Sunday, February 3, 2008

Why we should not squeeze 1800 people in the MRT!

I read with interest in the recent comments by the transport operators. In particular that the train can squeeze in 1,800 people.

My questions are as follows:
  1. Where did you get the 1,800 people from? Have bags, strollers been taken into account? How is it being calculated?
  2. You're talking about average capacity of 1,400 people. How do you average the capacity? Do you average taking into account the empty trains that I see on the other line?
  3. Have you done an experiment where you squeeze 1,800 people in the train, and see if those 1,800 passengers can remain on their feet throughout the journey where the train driver might do a sudden and emergency brake? Furthermore, have you tried asking a person standing in the middle carriage to get to the door and leave the train with 1,800 people?

Frankly, its easy to dish out statistics. However, there are several reasons why we cannot squeeze in any more passengers, based on my personal experience on the peak hour trains.
  1. Strollers and bulky bags take up space in the train.
  2. We're generally more passive. I've seen several people who refused to say Excuse Me when they wish to leave the train. They just stand passively behind, hoping their nudges can somehow hint to the person in front that they wish to exit the train.
  3. Singaporeans are kiasu. Even though they are near the train doors, sometimes they refused to step out, and make way for alighting passengers, even when you asked to be excuse.

The design, and operation of the trains are not optimised for such conditions too.
  1. The handles for standing passengers are not designed optimally for squeezing in 1,800 people, unless you think every single passenger is trained in martial arts, and have a very good sense of balance on a moving train.
  2. There is absolutely no way of knowing which station you are at when you're in the train. That's the main reason why everyone crowds around the door, and that is to figure out which station we are at. We're a multi-lingual country. Not everyone understands English. What happened to our 4 languages?? Degenerated into 1? Even in Shanghai, the station announcement is in 2 languages.
  3. In Japan or even in Shanghai, there are rail officers where they will check if anyone is leaving the train, and stop the train from leaving if they see someone trying to get out. In Singapore, its more of a get out of the train by this timing, or else!

If they wish to compare with Japan or any other countries, compare apple to apple. Why the MRT operators, or even the regulators do not know of these problems? That's because they never take their own trains!!

You want people to take public transport?? The first thing the government should do is to lead by example! That's the mark of first world management.

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