Sunday 27 December 2015

Downtown Line 2 starts 27 Dec 2015

MRT's Downtown Line 2 a step towards 'car-lite' Singapore, says PM Lee
Republic has invested heavily to make public transport world class and people's choice
By Janice Tai, The Sunday Times, 27 Dec 2015

The 12-station Downtown Line 2 (DTL2), which comes online today, has been described by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as a step towards a "car-lite" Singapore.

Two million people already take the bus or train twice or more each day, according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA). That works out to about two out of every five people in Singapore.

"Public transport is the most efficient way for our people to get around in a compact city like ours," said PM Lee, as he opened the new line yesterday during a ceremony at Botanic Gardens Station, one of the stops on DTL2.

"Ultimately we aim to make Singapore a safe, green, car-lite city."

The country has been investing heavily to make public transport accessible and convenient in the last decade, said Mr Lee, so that it will become people's mode of choice for transport. With a new MRT line and extension to be opened almost annually from next year onwards, the rail network will double to 360km by 2030. It will be comparable to those in London, New York and Tokyo, he added. This means that eight in 10 homes will be within a 10-minute walk of a train station.

"From now till 2019, we are also adding 99 new trains. The Sengkang-Punggol LRT system is also currently being upgraded," said the Prime Minister. "And equally important, we are investing heavily in infrastructure and maintenance improvements to reduce train disruptions to make for a more reliable public transport system.

"We are good, notwithstanding the incidents we have from time to time, but we are far from as good as we want to be, as we can be and as some others are. We want to be world class and we are working hard to get there."

There will be free rides on the Downtown Line from Dec 27 to Jan 1, and to help with overcrowding, extra staff will be deployed to the stations, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan. Kenneth Lim)
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, December 25, 2015

Close to 30 schools are within a 10-minute walk of stations along DTL2's route, which starts in Bukit Panjang and passes through the Bukit Timah corridor towards Rochor before connecting to Downtown Line 1 at Bugis Station.

With the new line, PM Lee expressed his hope that morning jams along Bukit Timah Road will become a thing of the past.

PM Lee, together with other ministers, MPs, grassroots leaders and LTA and SBS Transit staff took a ride on the new line from Botanic Gardens to Beauty World Station and back. He also sealed a time capsule which included ez-link cards, bus models and a copy of the letter from Unesco recognising Botanic Gardens as a World Heritage Site. It was buried outside the Botanic Gardens Station and is to be opened in 15 years.

PM Lee, flanked by LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong and Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng, takes a train ride towards Botanic Gardens station during a tour of Downtown Line 2. VIDEO: KEVIN LIM
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, December 25, 2015

Until Jan 1, commuters who start and end their journeys on DTL will enjoy free travel. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, in a blog post, advised residents looking to try the new line not to rush, or they may experience "severe overcrowding".

"It is a Sunday, during a holiday season, there is novelty value, and travelling is free. If too many rush in to be among the first wave of commuters, there will be overcrowding and long waiting time," he wrote.

He added that commuters will be kept informed of how crowded the DTL stations are, and asked them to check the updates on the MyTransport.SG app. Extra staff will also be deployed to man the stations over the free travel days.

The new line comes into operation on the same day that adjustments to transport fares kick in. Bus and train fares will drop by up to four cents for each journey. The adjustment, which takes into account last year's fall in energy prices, comes four months earlier than usual as it has been timed to coincide with the opening of DTL2.

Thousands check out Downtown Line 2 on opening day
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 28 Dec 2015

The second phase of the Downtown Line opened yesterday, providing fresh commuting options to residents in Bukit Panjang and along the Bukit Timah corridor.

The 16.6km Downtown Line 2 (DTL2), comprising 12 stations, includes stops at attractions such as the Botanic Gardens, Little India and food haven Beauty World.

Some stations, such as Tan Kah Kee and Stevens, also provide links to schools, including Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and National Junior College.

Thousands of curious commuters showed up on the first day to explore the new line and test out alternative routes to work and school.

Some said the new line reduces their travel time significantly. The journey from Bukit Panjang to Rochor, for example, is expected to take 20 minutes less compared with previous routes. Bukit Panjang resident Helen Tan, 65, who goes to church in Holland Village every week, said commuting on the new train line will save her about 20 minutes. "It used to take me about an hour by bus, and the waiting time could be quite unpredictable due to traffic," said the retiree.

MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Liang Eng Hwa described the new line as a "game changer" for Bukit Panjang residents, who were previously not served by MRT lines and relied on bus services that are often packed. Mr Liang said yesterday: "The line may change lifestyles. Residents now have new weekend destinations to explore."

Rides starting and ending on the Downtown Line, run by SBS Transit, will be free till Jan 1.

Yesterday, station staff were seen distributing Downtown Line tote bags to commuters, some of whom woke up early to check out the line.

Retiree Chau Kee Hong, 71, and his wife Tang Cheh Khoon, 68, left their Jurong West home at about 8am. Madam Tang, a cleaner, said: "We are getting out at every stop just to look around and familiarise ourselves with the stations and their surroundings."

By lunch time, there were long queues leading to the station gates. Crowds at Bukit Panjang station swelled but many took the time to admire the artwork in the stations.

Mr Chau said: "It really adds to the atmosphere."

Back to work today, to open the second phase of the Downtown Line (DTL2) with Khaw Boon Wan. The DTL is the fruit of...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, December 26, 2015

The big day has arrived: The Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) officially opens today!! Yippee!!Try out the new line for free for...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Saturday, December 26, 2015

As we eagerly anticipate the opening of the new Downtown Line 2 (#DTL2) this Sunday (27 Dec), here’s another few handy...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Wednesday, December 23, 2015

DTL2 a relief for Bukit Panjang residents
They have long complained of lack of public transport options to the city
By Jalelah Abu Baker, The Straits Times, 29 Dec 2015

There was a steady stream of people at Bukit Panjang MRT station yesterday morning - the first work day after the second phase (DTL2) of the Downtown Line opened officially on Sunday.

Many people familiarised themselves with the route, leaving their cars at home or skipping the bus.

The 16.6km DTL2, comprising 12 stations, connects the estate to places such as Little India, Bukit Timah and Bugis. Stops along the line include the Botanic Gardens and food haven Beauty World.

Many Bukit Panjang residents, who have long complained about the lack of public transport options, were glad to be able to take the train instead of the bus to the city.

Ms Cindy Loh, 42, for instance, took the train to Newton. The human resources executive said: "It usually takes me about 40 minutes if I take bus service 190. But today, it took me only 20 minutes."

She was especially happy that she no longer has to endure traffic jams.

Others, such as housewife Goh Siew Hing, 52, took the chance to venture to Chinatown, which is also along the line, to have breakfast with her mother and friends.

"Previously, we had breakfast only in Fajar, or somewhere in Bukit Panjang. Now we can eat in Chinatown," she said.

Some others who live near the line took the train to show their children how to get to their new schools.

One of them, Mr Ronnie Sim, 46, a sales manager, went from Hillview to Stevens station with his wife and daughter, who will soon be attending Singapore Chinese Girls' School, which is a short walk from the MRT station.

While there were no major hiccups, the train doors at the Botanic Gardens station did not open and some passengers had to go to the next station to return to Botanic Gardens. This happened just once, for a short while.

Ms Tammy Tan, SBS Transit's senior vice-president of corporate communications, said it was due to a momentary train signalling fault and the train continued on its journey without further issues, opening and closing its doors at all other stations.

Until Jan 1, rides will be free on DTL2 and Downtown Line 1, which opened two years ago and has six stations.

However, commuters transferring from Newton MRT station on the North-South Line or from the Bukit Panjang LRT system to the DTL2 will have to tap out before getting to the DTL2.

If they want to enjoy the free travel on DTL2 until Jan 1, they have to wait for 15 minutes before entering the line. Commuters who transfer lines within 15 minutes will be charged distance-based fares.

The Land Transport Authority said that over the next few days, there will be more than 320 volunteers, including residents and staff, helping commuters at the 12 new Downtown Line stations.

DTL2: so far so good. More than 360 SBST staff were at various stations to help guide passengers. Behind the scene,...
Posted by Khaw Boon Wan on Monday, December 28, 2015

* Grace period to swop platforms at Stevens station
No minimum fare if commuters exit and enter right fare gate within 10 minutes
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 1 Jan 2016

Commuters will be given a grace period of 10 minutes if they enter the wrong platform at the Downtown Line 2's Stevens station.

This grace period, starting from tomorrow when paid fares start, will give them sufficient time to exit the fare gantries and tap in at the correct platform without being charged the minimum fare.

Under the distance-based fare rules, tapping in and out of any station - even without any travel - will incur a minimum fare.

This amounts to 83 cents for underground stations and 78 cents for above-ground ones.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) made this announcement yesterday following a number of complaints from commuters last week, when the station's design was announced.

Some commuters had said it was "ridiculous" that they were being penalised for the "bad" design of the station, and that there should be an automatic refund, despite LTA saying commuters may approach the passenger service counter if they are on the wrong platform.

At Stevens station, the two platforms - one in the direction of Bukit Panjang and the other towards Chinatown - have separate sets of fare gates.

Once past the fare gates of either platform, commuters will not be able to make their way to the other one as there is no link between the two.

In all the other stations, commuters tap in at fare gates on the concourse level before going to the platforms.

The LTA explained that the station's construction was a challenging one because of site constraints.

Stevens station, located near the Wayang Satu Flyover and Bukit Timah Canal, is the smallest station on the Downtown Line.

LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said: "The flyover and canal posed exceptional challenges to building a station. To enable a station to be constructed at all within the site constraints, our engineers built what we call a 'stacked station'.

"Without this solution, it would be near impossible to provide a service to the residential, student and commercial population in this area."

Hi folks, if you enter the wrong platform at Downtown Line 2 (#DTL2) Stevens station by mistake, fret not. Starting 2...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

As the rail network grows increasingly dense, more stations may be located within tight corridors, the LTA said yesterday.

"LTA will continue to seek innovative ways of designing and building stations to make commuting as convenient and user-friendly as possible," it added.

Commuter Tan Kok Tim, a retiree in his 60s, said: "A grace period is a short-term solution. The station should be redesigned to be seamless, friendly and easy to use."

Eatery boom near Beauty World station with Downtown Line 2
Passengers flocking to restaurants near new Beauty World station, hawker centre at mall
By Kok Xing Hui and Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 20 Jan 2016

Hungry passengers on Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) are flocking to eateries near the new Beauty World station and breathing new life into the 32-year-old mall it is named after.

Hawkers are reporting that since the stop opened on Dec 27, there have been so many customers at the mall's fourth-floor hawker centre that, on occasion, cleaners have not had time to wipe the tables.

They estimate that on weekends, there are 40 per cent more customers than there were before the MRT line opened.

Restaurants in Cheong Chin Nam Road also said they are packed on those days.

"Business is a lot better than it was before Downtown Line 2 opened, although there are always more people during the Chinese New Year period," said Mr Lai Chong Lee, 70, who owns Beauty World Niang Re Gao, which sells snacks, cakes and CNY goodies.

Mr Lai, a trustee of the food centre, said it struggled to cope during the first six days of the MRT line's opening, when train services were running for free.

Since the stop opened on Dec 27, there have been so many customers at the mall's fourth-floor hawker centre that, on occasion, cleaners have not had time to wipe the tables.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao even ran pictures of dishes strewn across the floor.

Madam Chua Yow Ngoo, 62, who runs the Jia Jia Shu Shi stall selling fried Hokkien noodles, said in Mandarin: "There were just too many people. And look at the cleaners, many of them are old. They cannot cope with the crowd."

Hawkers said the weekday crowd has also improved, especially during lunchtime, when they see 20 per cent more customers than before the train line opened.

Some customers come from as far away as Aljunied, said Mr Lai.

Mr Kartick Saii, 23, a security officer at the mall, recounted how a man came in for the first time in a decade looking for the Indian barbershop he used to frequent. "The new train line is bringing back many old shoppers from when Beauty World used to be popular."

Across the road, business has also improved for the row of eateries in Cheong Chin Nam Road after taking a hit during the six years that the new line was being built. Two eateries were forced to close in that time.

"We definitely see more people now, even outside of the usual lunch and dinner crowds," said Mr Hafiq Khan, a 22-year-old cashier at Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant.

Mr Elwyn Chan, 34, owner of the 70-seat Stirling Bar and Grill, has also experienced large crowds on weekends. "It's not just us, all the restaurants have full houses on the weekends," he said, adding that long queues can be seen stretching out of the restaurants on weekend evenings.

Graphic designer Farhan Hassan, 33, a regular customer of Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant, said: "It's so convenient to get here now. There's no reason to drive there any more."

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