Some commuters boarding trains today on the first day of reduced operations complained that it was difficult to spread out due to the large crowds.
Fewer trains meant more passengers crowding platforms and carriages as operators reduced frequency to save costs due to a fall in ridership. Photos and videos posted online today showed commuters standing and sitting much closer than the recommended 1 to 2 meters of recommended social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Where is social distancing for the essential workers like us… please do not reduce the frequency of trains and buses … it’s very tiring for essential workers and healthcare workers when they travel home before and after work,” commuter Amylia Koh wrote to the SMRT public transport operator’s Facebook page.
Many Singaporeans have been staying home since most workplaces closed earlier this month. Essential services, including medical, continue to operate.
I really don’t understand what Singapore is up to. They decrease the frequency of the train in the morning, leading to over crowded cause everyone doesn’t want to be late to work. And now no one cares about the damn sticker lol. pic.twitter.com/igEXomjoox
— ♏️Vanessa Kiara♏️ (@_VanessaKiara_) April 16, 2020
“I really don’t understand what Singapore is up to. They decrease the frequency of the train in the morning, leading to over crowded cause everyone doesn’t want to be late to work. And now no one cares about the damn sticker lol,” Twitter user Vanessa Kiara wrote today. Safe distancing markers were pasted on the seats and floors of trains and buses last week.
Reduced operations were announced Monday by the Land Transport Authority. The authority said major train lines such as the North-South and Circle lines would see waits of no more than five minutes during peak periods and 10 minutes during off-peak periods. They would also halt operations 30 minutes earlier each day.
Bus operations were adjusted Wednesday to reflect lower demand. Some services to the Central Business District and attractions were suspended.
“There has been a significant drop in public bus and train ridership, especially in the past week as Singaporeans are staying home and avoiding discretionary travel during the ongoing COVID-19 circuit breaker period. Compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, daily bus and rail ridership has fallen by more than 71% and 75% respectively,” the authority said in its announcement.
The authority added that it would ensure “sufficient space” on public transport to allow safe distancing, but online complaints today indicated it wasn’t possible to do so. Some commuters also noted that they were waiting longer than promised.
Commuter Sana Devtra posted a photo of train timings this morning to the SMRT page, showing that the next train was due to arrive in eight minutes, longer than the five minutes indicated for peak periods.
“There are still people who are on the essential side that need to travel to work. Despite being the rush hour(usually till 9am), such long intervals are set between the train arrivals,” she wrote.
She added: “[Can’t] even maintain 1m safety distance. [There] are some commuters who are still sneezing and coughing. Are you going to compensate if anything is to happen? We hope you will look through. [On] [b]ehalf of all essential workers!!”
Other commuters including a man named Christopher Wong also took his grievances online about the train crowds around 8am at Lorong Chuan.
“SMRT. Your reduced train frequencies are causing the trains to be full now! This goes against government advice for social distancing. Please adjust your morning train schedules. Thank you,” his post read.
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