SINGAPORE: As one of the commuters enjoying the opening of the new Downtown Line 3 (DTL 3), student Muhammad Syahbudin Tajuddin and his parents were among the thousands of Singaporeans taking the new train service on the first morning of its official operations.
While Mr Syahbudin and his parents enjoyed the complimentary DTL 3 rides like all commuters this weekend, the 20-year-old was somewhat wary of potential breakdowns that could possibly occur. Despite a visit by religious leaders in September in view of the line’s official opening, last weekend’s DTL 3 open house saw temporary disruptions.
Fortunately for the Tajuddin family, they did not encounter such problems, as their leisurely trip to Fort Canning on Saturday (Oct 21) morning went without a hitch. Travel across the entire Downtown Line network is free on Saturday and Sunday to mark the official opening of DTL 3.
"The train ride was quite smooth and the time taken for us to travel was also much shortened with the DTL 3," said Mr Syahbudin.
"For us, we went to Fort Canning station for a morning walk and came back to Tampines West. It was a good experience, taking the line for the first time today."
Before the launch of DTL 3, weekend walks to Fort Canning often involved cumbersome commutes via public transport.
My Syahbudin said he previously had to take more than one bus and transfer to another mode of transportation to access Fort Canning.
"For now, it's much easier," he said.
“We’re glad there was no breakdown this morning. I’d say (DTL operators) SBS Transit are doing an okay job so far.”
Just like the thousands of Tampines residents affected by the five-year construction of DTL 3 in their neighbourhood, 40-year-old Mr Robin Chio is happy that his morning journey on the new line went smoothly.
The Tampines East resident can now make quicker trips to SAFRA Tampines for his weekend leisure activities.
"It is very convenient for us Tampines residents to travel around the (Tampines) town area itself and also further towards the central Singapore,” he said. "It definitely gives us added convenience."
"From my house in Tampines, there are actually a lot of buses to take me to the interchange. But with the DTL 3 stations it is much easier to get to the Tampines West area as well as to SAFRA Tampines," added Mr Chio.
“I had initially intended to take a bus to SAFRA Tampines, but I remembered that the DTL 3 is already open for operation today.”
Bedok Reservoir resident Mr Noor Muhammad noted the ease in which his family can now travel to Orchard for shopping during weekends, as they no longer have to take an extra feeder bus before transferring to the East-West and North-South Lines respectively.
“The new DTL 3 line benefits my family, since we can drop-off at stations where we can transfer to other lines,” said the 49-year-old father.
“It especially benefits my children who study at the National University of Singapore, which is located at the west side of the island. They can now transfer to the Circle Line easily via MacPherson and later drop-off at Kent Ridge station,” he added.
A MATTER OF PREFERENCE
Still, there were other commuters whose travel routes would not improve much even with the new line. One such commuter was Bedok Reservoir resident Ms Shermie, who laments the line’s lack of connectivity to Bedok interchange.
“From where I stay in Bedok Reservoir, the DTL 3 isn’t connected to the Bedok station where the East-West Line is,” said the 36-year-old student. “I still need to find a way to get to Bedok interchange where Bedok Mall is, unlike Tampines, which is very near Tampines interchange and Tampines Mall."
She added: “Let’s say I’m travelling to somewhere else and I need to go to Bedok interchange, I’d still need to take a feeder bus to get me to the DTL. I may not be taking DTL 3 to school, as it’s located some distance away from a DTL station.”
Then there are others like Ms Roseline Phang, who would still use the Downtown Line despite it being a longer commute for her travel needs.
“The new DTL 3 isn’t really convenient for work in my case, but it’s just that the new line allows me to escape the hot weather better,” she said.
“Plus in my case, by travelling underground, I get to avoid crossing the road to get where I need to be,” added the 49-year-old.
Ms Phang, who was travelling from Bencoolen station, was among the commuters affected by the train disruptions that hit the DTL 3 open house last weekend.
"I came out early as I wanted to transfer to the Circle Line and didn’t know how to do so,” she said. “I then did a bit of exploring and it was quite fun."
"I didn’t really get to experience the DTL 3 as there was a breakdown, but now I can explore the MacPherson area better where my sister lives."
DELAYS REPORTED IN AFTERNOON
However delays due to a train fault were subsequently reported in the afternoon. At around 2pm, commuters took to social media to complain, with Twitter user T.O.P_KING posting that the train he was on had stopped "at every station for a short while".
Delays were reported at various stations along the line including at Tan Kah Kee, Sixth Avenue, Tampines and Bedok North.
Netizens posted that the delays were due to a train fault, according to announcements made in the trains.
In a statement later on Saturday, SBS Transit said the delays were caused by a defective train as well as the activation of an emergency button by a passenger on a separate train.
The estimated ridership for Saturday's opening day was 400,000 throughout the entire Downtown Line.