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Meet #FOLT: Our Friends of Land Transport

Posted on | 31 Aug 2021

Image of Tactile Guiding System on MRT platform

In the quiet darkness just before dawn, Mandai Depot glows brightly – illuminating the surrounding swathes of secondary rainforest. The silhouette of a lone Assistant Station Manager comes into view, manually opening the sliding door of the shiny train on the platform.

After going through a battery of pre-movement checks and tests, the first train of the day is ready to make its maiden journey on the newly-opened Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 2 (TEL2) to Springleaf, Lentor, Mayflower, Bright Hill, Upper Thomson and Caldecott stations.

Capturing this rare behind-the-scenes footage were a few members of the Friends of Land Transport (FOLT) programme that brings together individuals who share a fondness for our land transport system, and regularly contribute ideas to improve it.

The video was a way to shine a spotlight on the work that goes into preparing for the opening of new MRT stations.

“It's not something that just anyone can see on a daily basis. We were very excited to document all the action that happens before first light for the public,” shared Matthew Ng, the director behind this video.

60 Seconds with Matthew and You Yuan from FOLT
Image of the FOLT members at depot
From left to right: Ong You Yuan, Bryan Wee and Matthew Ng

In the lead up to TEL2’s highly-anticipated opening on 28 August, the FOLT video crew was inspired to #TEL the public more about Singapore’s newest train network extension. Two members, Matthew Ng and Ong You Yuan, share their thoughts on the making of the First Moments video.

Q. What inspired you to film this special BTS video?

Matthew: We wanted to inspire a new-found appreciation for the hard work put in by LTA and our public transport workers in getting the new train line ready for its opening. Our team pitched this idea to LTA and were grateful that they could facilitate this special shoot. The video also showcases the dedication of Singapore's train enthusiasts in waking up early and clocking the hours to document the launch of the first trains of TEL2!

Q. What did you enjoy the most about producing this video?

You Yuan: The entire process was memorable, especially getting to speak with the staff and understanding the many steps before trains are ready for passenger service. Before this, I didn’t know that it took so much time and effort just to get the trains up and running each day.

Image of FOLT at TEL2 Upper Thomson station

Photo: Catching the first TEL2 train at 5:46am on 28 Aug 2021.

Q. What do you look forward to the most with the opening of TEL2?

Matthew: Definitely the quicker trips to Woodlands from the Circle Line at Caldecott. The travel time to the North will be cut by up to 15 minutes. I’m also excited to tell the public about the interesting places easily accessible by TEL2, from the famous Springleaf Prata to the improved convenience of travelling to the Zoo in Mandai and other nature spots.

You Yuan: Having more connectivity to the North and getting to my dinner and supper hot spots more easily!

Q: Which are your favourite TEL2 stations and why?

You Yuan: Upper Thomson! Even though I live in the East, I have been witnessing the progress of the station's construction since 2014. I’d recommend not missing out on the good and wallet-friendly food that are below $10! Alight at Upper Thomson station and use Exit 3 to indulge in mee goreng, fishball noodles, Thai wanton mee, mookata, ice cream, and more.

Matthew: Mayflower! With its creative Art-in-Transit feature, it’s like a mini game of bird watching and trying to spot the different birds hidden all around the station.

“It is very enriching to experience and understand the behind the scenes efforts that public transport workers do to keep public transport safe and reliable. As a commuter myself, I hope our collaborative efforts with LTA will contribute new ideas to improve public transport experiences.” Matthew Ng, Friend of Land Transport (FOLT)
"Through my time with FOLT, I’ve been inspired to embark on a career in public transport. I was also able to participate in various activities and give feedback that LTA has valued, which has gone on to improve the travelling and user experience for commuters." - Ong You Yuan, Friend of Land Transport (FOLT)
3 Things You Should Know About FOLT
#1 Advocate: Offering solutions

Since FOLT was set up as an interest group for land transport enthusiasts over a decade ago, it has done what friends do best – share honest feedback.

It helps that they understand the challenges LTA face, as members have exclusive access to chit chat sessions with engineers and LTA experts, and can join visits to new depots, stations, and tunnels.

FOLT has offered constructive suggestions on topics ranging from enhancing the wayfinding and user experience around transport hubs, to buses, trains, the MyTransport.SG app, and LTA’s website, to name just a few.

You Yuan hopes that more people will step forward to do the same: “If you want something to change, you should recommend viable solutions.” It’s also a good way to understand why certain choices were made as not all solutions will please everyone.

#2 Ambassador: Stewarding land transport 

FOLT members share their enthusiasm of public transport with everyone, including family and friends. Some also volunteer to facilitate LTA workshops and school engagement sessions.

Their passion is unstoppable. They have become more than friends, akin to ambassadors who enable everyone to gain a better appreciation of new public transport initiatives and dispel common misconceptions that others may have.

#3 All-encompassing: Engaging everyone

One is never too young or old to join FOLT. The group comprises a wide range of individuals including working professionals, public transport users, students, retirees, and even children.

Everyone has something to share or learn. Seniors offer invaluable feedback on ways to enhance accessibility to make commutes for the elderly more comfortable, while children can join the Junior Friends of Land Transport initiatives ranging from drone workshops to train sushi making. In the process, they learn more about our land transport system and the new technology used.

Here’s to nurturing the next generation of transport enthusiasts and land transport professionals who will reshape our future of land transport!

Join the FOLT Programme Today!

Has reading this article got your senses tingling? Well, if you’re keen to join other like-minded public transport enthusiasts, we’d love to hear from you! Click on this link to register and join the Friends of Land Transport programme today.

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