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Transactions across MRT fare gates continue despite warning

SINGAPORE — Although the rule against transactions across train fare gates has been a long-standing one, it is business as usual for most people meeting up to close deals. Some, however, have made an effort to be more careful.

A security officer at Beauty World MRT Station yesterday informing two members of the public that transactions are not allowed in the premises. Under the Singapore Statutes, offenders may be removed from the stations or fined a maximum of S$2,000. Photo: Robin Choo

A security officer at Beauty World MRT Station yesterday informing two members of the public that transactions are not allowed in the premises. Under the Singapore Statutes, offenders may be removed from the stations or fined a maximum of S$2,000. Photo: Robin Choo

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SINGAPORE — Although the rule against transactions across train fare gates has been a long-standing one, it is business as usual for most people meeting up to close deals. Some, however, have made an effort to be more careful.

TODAY reported earlier that SBS Transit, which runs the North-East and Downtown lines, had put up signs at Beauty World station warning commuters against conducting over-the-barrier transactions between the paid and unpaid areas.

Under the statutes, doing so could lead to offenders being removed from the station or fined up to S$2,000.

But when TODAY visited the Beauty World, Raffles Place and City Hall stations over two days last week, 11 of the 19 transactions observed were conducted over the barrier.

When interviewed, the people who were closing deals at the stations questioned the basis for the rule and cited the inconvenience of tapping in and out for transactions that usually conclude within a minute.

“It’s a bit too stringent. I think there’s no harm letting people transact (across) the barriers,” said a buyer at Raffles Place who wanted to be known only as Mr Goh, 28.

“They’re rushing off to somewhere else, and it doesn’t make sense for people to tap out and pay whatever money they have to pay just to perform one transaction.”

A seller by the name of Mr Ng was stopped by SBS Transit staff from selling bicycle accessories over the barrier at Beauty World station, and his buyer had to exit the fare gates to complete the transaction.

“We’re trying to make some money (as a seller) and save some money (for the buyer) — have some flexibility. What’s the difference between over the gantry and here?” the 56-year-old retiree questioned.

He added that most transactions involve small packages and are usually conducted away from the human traffic at the gantries. He suggested a grace period with no extra charge for passengers who tap in and out within a short time.

On the other hand, a final-year business student at Nanyang Technological University who wanted to be known only as Ms Yeo said she was prepared to tap in if the seller did not want to tap out.

“Since they already said that it’s not allowed, I just don’t want to break the rule. I don’t mind tapping in; it’s just 70 cents,” said the 22-year-old, who bought a textbook through Carousell.

Enforcement standards also differed between stations. At Beauty World station on the Downtown Line, staff could be seen stopping over-the-barrier transactions or politely questioning individuals who had been waiting at the station for a long time.

Raffles Place and City Hall stations, run by SMRT, did not have signs warning commuters or station staff intervening.

Nevertheless, SMRT vice-president (corporation information and communications) Patrick Nathan said the organisation works with the authorities to enforce the public transport regulations put in place to safeguard the network and commuters.

“We do take steps to remind commuters and raise awareness of rules that, for example, disallow over-the-barrier transactions at MRT stations,” he said in response to TODAY’s queries.

SBS Transit did not provide additional comments when asked about other enforcement actions to prevent such transactions.

In an email response to TODAY, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the regulation against trade or business transfer of goods between paid and unpaid areas has been in place since 1987.

“The intention is to preserve the MRT network as one primarily for passenger movement rather than goods delivery,” said a spokesperson.

“It ensures that we have a means, when necessary, of preventing the use of the MRT system for the delivery of goods or articles, for example bulky or dangerous goods.”

The LTA added that people waiting at specific places for extended periods of time to carry out transactions, especially at fare gates, could obstruct commuter flow: “In this heightened security climate, they may also attract suspicion and concern.”

TODAY understands that the regulation does not cover transactions carried out in the unpaid areas, and the LTA has not issued any notice of offence for this.

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