We thank readers for their feedback dated 26 November 2008 on modifications to SMRT trains to allow more standing room by having some seats removed.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT jointly developed the initiative to remove some seats on some trains based on feedback from commuters about increased crowding during peak periods. We agree whole-heartedly with suggestions to explore adding more carriages or increase train frequencies. We wish to assure readers that this has been fully exploited. Currently the number of cars per train is already at the maximum of 6. Since Feb 2008, SMRT has added nearly 900 additional train trips a week.
To put the initiative in context, of the more than 100 trains in service on the North-South and East-West lines, only 10 trains will have 84 out of their 300 seats each or about 30% removed. These modified trains are deployed mostly during peak periods. The objective is to create more standing room in train cabins, so that doorways will be less congested, and commuters will find it easier to board and alight.
LTA and SMRT have been monitoring the situation and gathering feedback. In a survey of more than 700 commuters conducted after deployment of the modified trains on 31 October 2008, 9 in 10 commuters on platforms and 7 in 10 commuters in trains preferred being able to board a train quickly to having a seat. A majority of commuters also felt that it was important to have more standing space in the cabins. And 6 in 10 commuters felt that LTA and SMRT have modified the correct proportion of trains.
We fully understand that the removal of seats may be an issue for commuters with special needs, such as the elderly, parents with young children, pregnant mothers and the mobility-impaired. Hence, LTA and SMRT have ensured that all train cabins will continue to have seats; even modified train cabins will still have 36 seats each. As far as possible, these modified trains will not run consecutively at any station platform, so commuters with special needs who prefer the unmodified trains can still have adequate access to seats.
Aside from seats, other initiatives to better manage crowding have been put in place. SMRT has deployed service ambassadors to encourage commuters to move to the ends of the platform and the centre of trains, an initiative which 7 in 10 commuters found effective.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, MEDIA RELATIONS
LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY
MANAGER, CORPORATE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS