Tuesday 27 August 2013

Go-ahead for third entrance at Bukit Panjang MRT station

Lobbying by MPs, residents pays off with better access for Senja estate
By Royston Sim, The Straits Times, 26 Aug 2013

BUKIT Panjang residents in the Senja estate will get an MRT entrance at their doorstep when the Downtown Line Stage 2 opens for service.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has called for a contractor to design and build an additional entrance for the future Bukit Panjang MRT station, on top of the two already planned.

The third entrance will be located near the bus stop in front of Block 605 on Bukit Panjang Road and allow commuters to enter the future station via an underpass.

An LTA spokesman said the entrance will also provide those alighting at the bus stop with a convenient transfer to the MRT.

The go-ahead for a new entrance came after about two years of persistent lobbying by Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MPs Liang Eng Hwa and Vivian Balakrishnan, as well as residents.

The spokesman said the LTA has received regular feedback about a third entrance and carefully studied the possibility of constructing one.

She added: "With many new developments coming up in Bukit Panjang and to enhance the planned pedestrian network and connectivity of transport nodes to nearby amenities and facilities, another entrance will be added to help distribute commuter flow and provide commuters with greater convenience."

There are three upcoming build-to-order developments in Senja - Senja Green, Senja Gateway and Senja Parc View.

MP Liang Eng Hwa said he was glad the LTA "was open-minded enough to re-study the case and thereafter work hard to overcome the various design and funding issues."

He added: "If you evaluate this entrance on a standalone basis, it doesn't make financial sense. But if you look at the whole Downtown Line, it does. It's such a big project, it doesn't make sense to not provide smooth connections."

Without the entrance, residents would have to cross the busy junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Woodlands Road to get to the future station and rain would make the journey very inconvenient, he said.

Compared to Hong Kong's MTR, which has 557 entrances over 84 stations, Singapore's MRT has fewer connections to surrounding developments, with 280 entrances for 99 stations here.

In recent years, the Government has put more focus on improving the "last mile" connection for commuters who walk to the MRT.

In January this year, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew announced a $330 million project to build a comprehensive network of covered linkways to give everyone walking within 400m of an MRT station shelter from the elements.

Programmer Sim Tze Jan, 34, has lived in Bukit Panjang for more than 20 years and was among the residents who pushed hard for an entrance near Senja.

He said: "I see the Downtown Line as something that can solve Bukit Panjang's transport problems. That's why I wanted to make it right.

"An MRT exit there would encourage more people to walk to the MRT station instead of taking the already stressed LRT system."

Work on the new station entrance is expected to start at the end of this year and be completed by December 2016.

It will be ready after the opening of the Downtown Line Stage 2, which was due in 2015 but has been delayed after one project contractor went bust.

The LTA is expected to announce a replacement contractor and new completion date for the line soon.

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