Not long after I started working about 15 years ago, I started driving. Over the years, I observed the increasingly crowded condition of our roads and I complained about it. Driving was beginning to be stressful.
One day, not too long ago, I decided to take the MRT train and give my car a break and do some good for the environment by reducing my carbon footprint etc. Actually, it was more to give myself a break as I thought that taking the train would be less stressful than driving. I told myself that Tiong Bahru is just a few stations to Bugis, which is true, and I wouldn't have to worry about terrible drivers, red lights and parking.
The waiting time for the train was about 3 minutes. I must have missed the earlier train just. That was fine. When the train came, it was packed! Wow! I am now a bit thicker around the middle than I was back in school but I managed to squeeze myself into the train. I felt like a sardine in a can. The discomfort was made worse by the coming in and going out of passengers at the next few stations.
When the train got to Bugis, I got out in relief only to be greeted by an absolute nightmare. The station was packed! Wow, wow! There were two escalators where I was standing: one up and one down. Both escalators were packed to capacity and people were trying to get onto them. When I managed to get on the upgoing escalator, I truly empathised with salmons swimming upstream! In less than an hour, I felt like a sardine and a salmon! A truly Singaporean experience?
The problem? The platform was very narrow (I am referring to the air conditioned space in between the two train tracks) as in there was little space compared to the crowd at the station. It reminded me of a local train station in Kyoto. If you could imagine putting a small Kyoto train station in Tokyo or Osaka, you would be able to picture the chaos. There and then, I told myself that I would never take the MRT train to Bugis again. If there had been some sort of an emergency, many would be trampled to death in a stampede, I do not doubt.
It occurred to me that Bugis station was probably built without anticipating the recent burgeoning population in Singapore. It is also difficult to enlarge the platform since the train tracks would have to be moved outwards. The only way I think the situation could be improved without any major changes is to increase the number of escalators in the station. This, I believe would improve the current situation tremendously. This is one for the engineers.