The MRT network's newest station will open for service on its oldest line today, with new features that are friendlier to commuters and the environment.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday afternoon that Canberra station on the 30-year-old North-South Line (NSL) is the network's 139th station.
He said more than 17,000 households are within a 10-minute walk of the new station. From there, they can reach Marina Bay in 30 minutes.
The minister said the elevated station is the first where residents connect directly to the ticketing platform from an overhead bridge. The bridge is lined with shops and connected to Canberra Plaza at the other end.
"I hope there will be childcare facilities at Canberra Plaza as many residents are working couples with young children," he added.
Mr Khaw noted that Canberra station - which is between Sembawang and Yishun stations - is the first MRT station to be awarded the highest Platinum rating for the Building and Construction Authority's Green Mark for Transit Stations.
"It has many green features, including energy-efficient air-conditioning and lighting systems," he said. "They help reduce the cost of station operations and keep train fares affordable."
With the new station, Mr Khaw quipped, schoolchildren living in the vicinity can now "get out of bed much later".
Canberra is the second new station built on a "live" line. The first was Dover station, which opened in 2001 on the East-West Line, in front of Singapore Polytechnic.
Mr Khaw congratulated the Land Transport Authority for completing the "complex project" with "zero casualty".
New MRT lines and stations are built only when there is sufficient commuter demand.
"As each MRT line is a multibillion-dollar investment, we take a conservative and prudent approach. It is evidence-based and very much numbers-driven," Mr Khaw said. "Each new project must clear objective benefit and financial hurdles."
Projections of commuter traffic, capital and running cost, and travel time saving are done.
"It is a laborious but interesting piece of operations research routinely done by our transport planners and engineers," he said, adding that such research is necessary to "minimise the burden on both taxpayers and commuters".
"We certainly do not welcome white-elephant MRT stations," he said.
In 2006, the North East Line's Buangkok station opened - three years after the line started running. It was dubbed by residents as a "white elephant".
Several stations along the Seng-kang-Punggol LRT line remained shuttered a decade after the light rail line started operating, with one still yet to open.
Residents cheered the opening of the Canberra station. Retiree Foo Fang Boon, 65, said he visits his son who lives in The Brownstone executive condominium in Canberra Drive, and the train is more convenient than the bus.
"I help take care of my grandson," he said. "With the bus, I have to walk quite far."
Ms La Kim Loan, 26, who lives in Block 115C Canberra Walk, said the new station is about a 10-minute walk away. She said it is now more convenient to visit her in-laws in Woodlands, as well as travel to town.