SINGAPORE: Security screening at MRT stations will lengthen travel time for commuters, but a balance has to be struck between public safety and efficiency, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said in a written answer to Parliament on Monday (Nov 19).
The minister was asked by Member of Parliament Desmond Choo how the Ministry of Transport would minimise delays and inconvenience to commuters during the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) enhanced security screening trial.
Mr Choo also asked how transport operators could be better prepared in the face of security threats.
For the six-month trial, which began earlier this month, commuters at selected MRT stations are randomly picked to undergo enhanced security screening measures including walking through metal detectors and placing their bags through X-ray scanners.
READ: MRT security screening trial starts: Commuters grumble but LTA says majority won't experience delays
In his written answer, Mr Khaw acknowledged that the screening would lengthen travel time.
"Security screening will lengthen travel time. This is the balance we have to strike between public safety and efficiency," he said. "As commuters become more familiar with the screening process, we expect additional time taken to be kept to a minimum."
He said that the trial was started over the year-end holiday period so commuters can "be sensitised to it" before the new year, and added that the ministry was also mindful of commuters with specific needs, such as students sitting for their A-Level exams.
Security screening is not new to commuters, said Mr Khaw, but added that it was timely to review security measures.
"It is timely to review and update our security measures given that our public transport system has expanded significantly and remains a soft target for perpetrators who wish to do us harm," he said.
"The six-month trial is necessary to allow LTA and PTOs (public transport operators) to fine-tune the security operations and develop the capability to step up our response against heightened security threats, when the situation warrants."
Deputy director of LTA's public transport security division Joseph Goh earlier this month assured commuters that they would not be stuck in long queues during the screenings, as officers select commuters randomly and the checks are done one at a time to ensure that there is no congestion.