Saturday, April 24, 2010

Circle Line #Fail

In Singapore, the circle line is opened for public, but there seemed to be little information on it.

If you search Google, you can find --> this <-- Which does not tell you much. The stations my not be named properly as well as we know Bradell is actually Toa Payoh Lor 1 and many other stations are mis-named. I tried the circle line for the first time and the experience was pretty mixed. I liked the automated trains (without a driver), but felt that the trains are a bit short, and infrequent. It was fine as no one knew how to go about on the train. I've walked past Promenade (near Carrefour at Sintec City) several times and decided to try going to Suntec City, however with the opening of the Marina Sands Bridge, I decided to go to Esplanade first as I believed seeing a stop in the City Link. I took the MRT to Dhoby Ghaut with my mom and some of her friends as they were interested to ride, but were afraid to try as they think they will get lost. When we arrived at the Dhoby Ghaut Interchange, we found the entrance to circle line, but it said to Marymount! I was shocked as I thought going to Esplanade was the other way, and I could not find any signs that say Esplanade or Promenade. I asked several staff at the MRT station for help, but they just told me, "Circle line... That way." And when I asked if it goes to Esplanade, they simply told me "Train goes one way... the other side not open." I was not sure if the station to Esplanade or Promenade was opened with that reply as I was certain once, but not now. There was no signs on where the trains were heading and no one to help. The elderly ladies I was with asked other passengers and no one knew about Esplanade or Promenade. Their reply, "There go Bishan..." I asked the ladies to wait while I investigated further, and realized that Dhoby Ghaut was the last stop, and the train will pass through Promenade and Esplanade to go to Marymount. No thanks to the lack of signs or staff to help. I then got them into the new and short train to go to Esplanade. It was only 2 stops away, and when we got off, the Esplanade station seemed empty. One of them asked. "Is this station opened?" We moved towards the exit and saw signs to Raffles Hotel, and before I could ask anyone for directions, (which seemed like there was one exit) all of the elderly ladies have exited the train station. The train station was far underground, and there was only one way out, and it put us on a grassy patch of land between Raffles City and Suntec City. NOT ESPLANADE! Lots of cursing and swearing followed as they walked from the far away station towards the Esplanade, and we passed by an Entrance to the MRT station that says Esplanade on the way, an exit we previously thought did not exist.

I have a few questions:

1) Isn't the circle line newly opened?
2) Shouldn't there be staff and signs at all stations or at least at the interchanges about the route of the circle line?
3) Shouldn't there be maps or information when you exit the train to show you where the exits were on the surface relative to where you want to go? (And how to get to those exits?)

The Singapore train system is not complex compared to New York or other Metropolitan cities, however, just assuming people know where to go is simply bad form, especially when the stations are underground.

There is a lot of walking to do, and these stations does not seemed to be that elderly friendly as I timed the time it takes a 70 year old lady to exit the station to the surface, is about 8 minutes.

Is this world class transportation?

I guess not. I think I'm better off going by bus.

-- Iron Bowl

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