Publicity drive for new MRT Downtown line

LTA holds talks at schools and roadshows to get people to take the train instead of driving

A banner encouraging students to take the MRT to commute to school is on display outside Methodist Girls' School.
A banner encouraging students to take the MRT to commute to school is on display outside Methodist Girls' School.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Between 7am and 7.20am on schooldays, long lines of cars can be seen along Blackmore Drive, with the traffic extending out to Bukit Timah Road.

About 60 per cent of the primary and secondary students of Methodist Girls' School (MGS) go to school by car every morning, estimates vice-principal Diana Goh.

But with the Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) opening on Dec 27 - a week before the start of the new term - she hopes more students will take the train to school, which will be a short walk from the new King Albert Park station.

While the school had sent e-mail to parents telling them about the DTL2 last month, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is also helping to encourage them to use the train rather than drive.

It conducted two talks at MGS earlier this month and also went to other schools in the area, including Nanyang Girls' High School, Hwa Chong Institution and Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road).

The LTA is reaching out to the community ahead of the DTL's launch through, for example, roadshows in places such as shopping centres.

Posters and banners have also been put up along the DTL2 corridor for publicity.

Last month, grassroots leaders and staff from LTA and SBS Transit, the DTL2's operator, walked through the 12 stations to evaluate the signage systems and commuter infrastructure, including bicycle-parking facilities, linkways and drop-off points.

"This is one of the widest outreach efforts we have made prior to the launch of a new line to encourage residents to leave their cars at home and take the train," said Mr Mohamed Farook Abdul Wahab, the LTA's deputy director for community partnership (North West).

The 16.6km DTL2 starts in Bukit Panjang, traverses the affluent Bukit Timah corridor towards Rochor and connects to the six-station DTL1.

"Many residents in the Bukit Timah area drive, so they may not be familiar with the MRT system," Mr Farook added.

Teacher Joanne Khaw, 40, who lives near the Beauty World station, said: "My family goes to the Botanic Gardens quite often during the weekends. With the DTL2, we can now leave the car at home."

MGS Secondary 3 student Mannat Johal, 15, who lives in Kembangan and takes the public bus, said the DTL2 will reduce her commuting time, especially on the way home from tennis training in the evenings.

"In the morning, it takes about an hour. But on the way back in the afternoon, it's 11/2 hours. During rush hours, and if it's raining, it takes me up to two hours. With the train, I can get home much faster," she said.

Asked what she would do with the time saved, she quipped: "I'll probably have more time to study!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Publicity drive for new Downtown line'. Subscribe