Thursday, 4 July 2013

Mixed Reactions To Announcement Of Free MRT Rides

Free MRT rides scheme sees mild take-up on first day

Train passengers during rush hour also said they did not notice significant difference in the size of the crowds

Few commuters changed their routines Monday on the first day of a one-year trial providing free train rides to early birds.

Meant to help reduce the peak-hour crowding that has partly fueled Singaporeans’ dissatisfaction with the government, the scheme lets commuters ride for free if they arrive at 16 designated MRT stations in the city before 7:45 am on weekdays. Those arriving between 7:45 and 8am get a 50-cent rebate.

Yahoo! Singapore was at Tanjong Pagar station Monday morning to check the take-up. Most of the commuters arriving before the cut-off said they usually went to work at that time, and many were not even aware that the trial for the free rides had started that day but were pleasantly surprised when they tapped out of the gantry to find out their ride was free.

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Train commuters see little improvement on first day of free MRT travel
The trial for free MRT rides for early birds started on Monday morning

The trial for free MRT rides for early birds started on Monday morning but most commuters Channel NewsAsia spoke with said they did not see much of an improvement in peak hour traffic just yet.

Some commuters said they only noticed a slight difference in the number of people taking trains before 7.45am while others said they are unable to benefit from the scheme as they do not have the option to start work earlier.

The free pre-peak travel scheme, which is on trial for a year, is aimed at enticing about 10 to 15 per cent of commuters to travel earlier so that it would ease congestion on trains during the morning rush hour.

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Free MRT rides: Few jump on bandwagon

On the first day of its one-year trial for free weekday MRT travel before 7.45am, LTA reports only a 9 per cent drop of commuter traffic exiting the designated 16 city area stations between 8am and 9am. Only three out of the 12 passengers My Paper spoke to adjusted their travel schedules for the free rides

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday kicked off its one-year trial of free travel on the rail network for commuters who end their journey before 7.45am on weekdays at 16 MRT stations in the city area. Commuters who exit these stations between 7.45am and 8am will receive a discount of up to 50 cents.

However, just three of the 12 passengers that My Paper spoke to at Raffles Place Station from 6.45am to 7.45am said they adjusted their travel schedule to take advantage of the free rides.

According to the LTA, there was a 9 per cent drop in the number of commuters exiting the 16 designated stations during the peak period between 8am and 9am yesterday, compared to the average daily figures for the first three weeks of this month.

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TRAVEL EARLY, TRAVEL FREE ON THE MRT

One-year trial to provide free travel on rail into the city area before 7.45am
to spread out morning peak hour crowds


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will embark on a one-year trial from 24 June 2013 to provide free travel on the rail network for commuters who end their journey before 7.45am on weekdays at 16 designated MRT stations in the city area. In addition, commuters who exit at these stations between 7.45am and 8am will be given a discount of up to 50 cents off their train fare. The Government will be funding this one-year trial.

The objective of the trial is to encourage commuters who are able and willing to make changes to their travel schedule, to travel earlier into the city area before the peak hour. This would help spread out the morning peak hour crowds to the pre-peak period, and ease the crowding situation on city-bound stretches of the MRT network1. It is part of the Government’s effort to try to alleviate the morning peak hour crowding situation on trains in the short term, even as rail capacity is aggressively being increased through new lines, additional trains, as well as higher train frequencies in the longer term.

The free travel trial will be a significant enhancement to the existing SMRT Early Travel Discount scheme, which offers up to 50 cents discount for travel on SMRT lines into 14 SMRT stations in the city area before 7.45am. It will also entail a wider coverage compared to the current scheme as it will include SBST’s North East Line (NEL) and Sengkang and Punggol LRTs (SPLRT) i.e. commuters who enter at stations on NEL and SPLRT and exit at the designated city area stations will be eligible for the discount. In addition, the two NEL stations in the city area – Clarke Quay and Chinatown – will be included in the scheme, bringing the total number of designated city stations from 14 to 16, or essentially every MRT station in the city area.

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Free SMRT Rides? Good Heart, Shitty Idea

Is the government populist or what in trying to solve people's problems! Mixed reactions to the free SMRT ride at super early morning hours, pre-peak it is called. Free ride people complain. Not free ride, people also complain. Don't want to go to get up early to get free ride also complain.

Anyway, so taxpayers are paying for freeloaders (which include taxpayers)! Making SMRT and its shareholders smile again! Lui is doing all he can, if you think that subsidising public transport is all he can and should do for public transport. Even Singapore Mind thinks Lui's idea is kinda good. Bah.

As long as SMRT and SBS are the big players and they know taxpayers will always pick up the bill coz of Lui's subsidise our public transport thinking, SBS and SMRT won't give a shit about actually carrying commuters safely, quickly, regularly, everywhere. Don't need more trains or buses they think as the government would give cash incentives to regulate commuter traffic

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Free MRT rides is on





Good to have some numbers to how commuters are responding to free travel.

Quite balanced between the welcoming 37% vs the disapproving 26%. The latter group is most important. They are the ones who demand high standards from the government.

Today's solution of free travel is just band aid in a situation where any pain relief is welcomed. It is an unbecoming approach to problem that is not in the Singaporean spirit of yesterday.

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Free MRT rides could mean longer work hours


The Government's latest move to ease congestion during peak hours by rolling out free train travel to the city before 7.45am has been applauded by some commuters.

But others were sceptical about whether the dangled carrot of monetary savings would be enough to make people leave for work earlier. This is because some employers may not be flexible enough to allow their staff to start - and end - work earlier. Early birds could end up working longer hours.

Business analyst Yvette Kan, 28, who lives in Sengkang, said she would have to wake up at 6am in order to reach her workplace in Tanjong Pagar by 7.45am. She said: "The money saved is not worth it. This will work only if my company supports the move and allows me to go off early, or it would mean working much longer."

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Is the free pre-peak travel trial a well thought-out scheme?

How many more ‘ten millions’ of taxpayers’ money will the government need?  How much of this money actually go to foreigners, intended or otherwise?  Will bus commuters switch to ‘free travel’ on trains since the scheme is not applicable to buses, transferring congestion to trains?

Just like the White Paper on Population, questions abound in such a trial and ‘proper’ feedback prior to implementation appears to be absent.

The PAP needs to have guys on the ground and interact with the man in the street to have a better understanding before implementing million-dollar schemes.

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No free transport, comprain. Got free transport, also comprain. Buay sian ah?

I read the ST Forum letters from time to time and I’ve found them to be insightful, mature, thought-provoking, and honest. Then there are the bad ones too. And this one was simply too repulsive for me to stomach it. It’s a classic case of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” for the Government. What I simply cannot take is the incessant whining about what is largely a positive move.

The announcement of free train rides trial programme came as welcome news early this week. It is a bold move, and pretty unconventional too. Let’s first deal with the criticism that free train rides will only ensure more overcrowding.

It is absolutely wrong to say that commuters who work in the heartlands and industrial areas “would be inconvenienced by the larger crowds during the early part of the morning”.

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Do not forget the NSFs

The recent measures implemented to allow commuters to travel free should they exit an MRT station within the CBD before 7.45am has illicited a good mix of responses across the island, though probably more positive than negative.

This trial comes as a surprise to me, as it uses the carrot approach to entice commuters to leave their homes earlier and regulate crowds. And I definitely welcome it because the savings are ultimately passed on to us – the commuters, that is those who choose to leave their homes early enough to enjoy the benefits. This is the opposite of the situation on the roads, and ERP as most of you may know charges motorists for using certain roads during peak hours, the stick approach. However, it is arguable that the authorities may be trying to promote public transport as opposed to private cars, which ownership is highly discouraged here by their exorbitant prices.

I trust that the relevant authorities have done their calculations and found such spending justifiable. Which if that’s the case brings me to my next point. Full-time national servicemen (NSFs) sacrifice 2 years of their lives contributing to national defence, enduring much hardship along the way. I believe that one way the authorities can show some form of recognition to this group of people is by working out a possible scheme to offer them free or subsidised public transport.

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Public and private sector organisations have welcomed the Land Transport Authority's one-year trial to provide free rail travel

The Land Transport Authority said it aims to reach out to more employers under its Travel Smart programme to implement measures that allow employees to take advantage of such a scheme.

More than 40 public agencies are located near the 16 designated MRT stations and their 14,000 officers stand to benefit from the trial, under a staggered work hours policy.

The Public Service Division (PSD) said for it to work, there need to be more acceptance of flexible work practices.

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Now, this is really a free ride

MP Janil Puthucheary should be pleased with himself – his proposal for free train rides have come true. And it’s going to cost us $10million. Sigh.

Now the question is: how do we measure the outcome? Transport Minister Lui projected that free rides could move another 10 to 20 per cent of commuters away from the peak period. This translates to between 10,000 and 20,000 train users. One assumes then that if this is achieved in a year’s time, then the free rides programme will be terminated? And commuters will have to start paying again? Or will it be continued because it is successful?

SIM University transport expert Park Byung Joon was reported in TODAY saying: “Since it is spending taxpayers’ money, the Government must have an option to stop (it) if the scheme is not achieving intended objectives.”

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Besides free travel on MRT, let’s look at car clubs

What’s not to like about free travel on the MRT?

I must admit that when I first read the suggestion from MP Janil Puthucheary made in Parliament, I thought it is a nice sounding idea that will unfortunately have limited success. The cynic in me thinks that if an opposition MP had mooted the same idea, it would have been met with some derision from our ministers. So I’m a little surprised at how quickly the suggestion has gained acceptance, considering how the government tends to drag its feet when it comes to accepting ideas that go against its no-free-lunch ideology.

As many have pointed out, workers will be reluctant to head for the office early if the workplace culture doesn’t change to allow them to leave early. Once, I had a boss who believed that if his staff knocks off promptly at 6pm, it means they don’t have enough work on their plates. Given this face time culture, we may have better luck if there is free travel between 9.30am to 11am instead, albeit at the disapproval of bosses.

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Free MRT rides for early birds in Singapore
Free MRT rides for early birds in Singapore

Congestion on the rail system has fed resentment, with some citizens accusing the Government of not doing enough to control numbers of foreign workers who they accuse of competing with them for jobs, housing and space on public transport.

The discontent spilled into General Elections in 2011 when the ruling party garnered its lowest-ever vote count after more than 50 years in power, and in two by-elections after that won by the opposition.

The move to give free train rides also comes as operators of the city-state's MRT system work to repair public trust after a series of breakdowns since 2011.

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ABS welcomes free pre-peak rail travel trial
ABS welcomes free pre-peak rail travel trial

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said Tuesday that it welcomes the free pre-peak rail travel trial announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

ABS highlighted that a number of the 16 designated stations support much of the financial industry, which has offices sited along the Shenton Way belt and around the Marina Bay financial district.

ABS said many companies in the financial industry already offer staggered work timings to support different financial operations, including off-peak shift timings or earlier start-times.

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Free travel on MRT trains before 745am from June 24


The one-year trial was announced by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew on Tuesday morning at Raffles Place station. The trial is expected to cost S$10 million and will be funded by the government.

The objective of the trial is to encourage commuters who are able and willing to make changes to their travel schedule to travel earlier into the city area before the peak hour.

In a media statement, the LTA said this would help spread out the morning peak hour crowds to the pre-peak period, and ease the crowding situation on city-bound stretches of the MRT network.

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Free MRT travel before 7:45am, thanks to MP Puthucheary


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said this free trial will last for 1 year. It is hoped that this free pre-peak travel scheme will better spread passenger load on commuter trains in the mornings.

Minister Lui said the free trial will cost the government $10 million. He said, “I want to assure commuters that we do not intend to recover this $10 million. So, in future if there are any fare adjustments, it is not because we are trying to recover this $10 million or whatever amount that we have to pay to fund this programme because the government will take care of this for the trial period.” He hopes the trial will generate a 10 to 20 per cent shift in travel demand.

The 50-cent travel discount which originally was applicable for travel before 7.45am will now be offered from 7:45am to 8am. SMRT said it is currently in discussion with LTA to work out the operational requirements to support the free trial.

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Free travel on MRT on week days

A one year trial for free travel on the MRT will commence on 24 June. Everyone travelling early on the train will definitely love it. It is so unbelieveable that things can be had for free in this no free lunch City. I just hope that it will not cause more problems than solving problems. Keep the fingers crossed that the trains will not be jam packed by foreigner workers early in the morning just for the free ride.

Commuters must exit from 16 stations in town to enjoy the free ride. The stations are,

‘Bugis, Chinatown, City Hall, Clarke Quay, Dhoby Ghaut, Lavender, Orchard, Outram Park, Raffles Place, Somerset, Tanjong Pagar, Bayfront, Bras Basah, Esplanade, Marina Bay and Promenade…Commuters who exit at these stations between 7.45am and 8am will be given a discount of up to 50 cents off their train fare. The Government will be funding this one-year trial.

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Free MRT rides before morning peak


Starting from June 24, those who end their weekday journeys at any of 16 designated MRT stations before 7.45am will pay nothing. Those who exit these stations between 7.45am to 8am can enjoy a discount of up to 50 cents off their train fares.

This pilot programme is estimated to cost $10 million and will be fully funded by the government.

Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew said the LTA hopes to shift between 10 to 20 per cent of commuters from the morning peak period to the pre-peak period, thereby alleviating the morning peak hour crowding on trains in the short term

Free metro rides for early birds in Singapore


Commuters board a crowded train at a subway station in Singapore, on February 13, 2013. Singapore on Tuesday unveiled plans to offer free train rides during morning peak-hours to ease severe congestion on its metro rail network

Commuters who arrive at the stations between 7:45 am and 8:00 am will be given a discount of up to 50 cents from their train fare.

Full-price metro fares in Singapore are distance-based and range from 83 cents (67 US cents) to Sg$1.95 ($1.58).

"The objective of the trial is to encourage commuters who are able and willing to make changes to their travel schedule to travel earlier into the city area before the peak hour," LTA said in a statement.

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Daily SG: 17 Apr 2013

“People can board the train, it is whether they choose to” – former SMRT CEO
– The Void Decker: Besides free travel on MRT, let’s look at car clubs
– Under The Angsana Tree: Mixed Reactions To Announcement Of Free MRT Rides
– Breakfast Network: Now, this is really a free ride…


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Mixed Reactions To Announcement Of Free MRT Rides
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