SINGAPORE: Crowds flocked to the Downtown Line as its second phase opened to the public.
The 12 stations on Downtown Line 2 – a 16.6km stretch spanning Bukit Panjang to Rochor – drew curious commuters from all over the island on its first day.
Many were excited that several stations, such as Beauty World and Tan Kah Kee, are near food places and schools.
Some said the new line significantly reduces their travel time. The journey from Bukit Panjang to Rochor, for example, is expected to take 20 minutes less compared to previous routes.
Bukit Panjang resident Helen Tan, 65, who goes to church in Holland Village every week, said commuting on the new train line saved her about 20 minutes.
“It’s very convenient now. It used to take me about an hour by bus, and the waiting time could be quite unpredictable due to traffic,” said the retiree.
Special education teacher Nasirdah Syed Mohd, 42, who also lives in Bukit Panjang, said the new line makes travelling to work less of a hassle.
“I work in Queenstown and it’s troublesome having to take the LRT to Choa Chu Kang and change trains at Jurong East,” said the mother of two.
“Now I can just take the Downtown Line to Botanic Gardens and transfer to a bus to Queenstown.”
Station staff were seen distributing free Downtown Line tote bags to commuters, some of whom woke up early yesterday just to explore the new line and its stations.
Retiree Chau Kee Hong, 71, and his wife Tang Cheh Khoon, 68, left their Jurong West home at 8am.
Said Tang, who works as a cleaner: “We are getting out at every stop just to look around and familiarise ourselves with the stations and their surroundings.”
Pointing to the mosaic murals at the Botanic Gardens station, Chau said: “The art work is very beautiful. It really adds to the atmosphere.”
The driverless trains also served as entertainment to many children, who were drawn to the front and rear of the carriages.
Nine-year-old Gerrett Soon, who was commuting with his mother and younger sister, said: “I like that the trains are automatic. It’s cool because I can see the tunnel.”
The Downtown Line 2 stations are Bukit Panjang, Cashew, Hillview, Beauty World, King Albert Park, Sixth Avenue, Tan Kah Kee, Botanic Gardens, Stevens, Newton, Little India and Rochor. They link with the six existing stations on Downtown Line 1 at Bugis station.
Rides starting and ending on the Downtown Line, run by SBS Transit, are free till Jan 1. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network