Bukit Panjang LRT an essential service that deserves upgrades
As a Bukit Panjang resident of 26 years, I have relied heavily on the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (BPLRT) network since it was built in 1999. I welcome Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s suggestion to provide replacement buses while suspending BPLRT services during off-peak hours.
I refer to the report, “SMRT studying option to suspend Bukit Panjang LRT during off-peak hours: Khaw” (Aug 30).
As a Bukit Panjang resident of 26 years, I have relied heavily on the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (BPLRT) network since it was built in 1999.
I welcome Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s suggestion to provide replacement buses while suspending BPLRT services during off-peak hours. This allows commuters to simply board buses at BPLRT stations — far more comfortable than making the ascent to the LRT platforms.
Today, commuters reach the LRT platforms either through climbing long flights of stairs, or taking a slow, warm and unpleasant lift. This applies to all BPLRT stations except Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang.
Imagine if an MRT station had only stairs and a single, old lift.
Where possible, escalators can be built to replace sections of staircases, just as new escalators are being constructed for the Sengkang LRT Station.
The BPLRT network is an absolutely essential service, despite the report’s portrayal of it as being highly irrelevant.
The report quoted a Bukit Panjang resident, who chose buses over the BPLRT while commuting to Bukit Panjang MRT Station. She found buses superior in terms of travel time.
This is only true from a few departure points. From most places along the BPLRT network, the BPLRT is by far the quickest way to Chua Chu Kang or Bukit Panjang.
From Bangkit LRT Station, for example, the BPLRT takes three minutes to reach Bukit Panjang LRT Station. Taking the bus requires 11 minutes of walking plus five minutes of commuting. During peak hours, the bus takes even longer because of traffic jams.
LRT breakdowns are highly infrequent. The report’s conclusion quoting the resident saying that “sometimes, it may even be faster to go on foot instead” is true only from very few departure points.
If the BPLRT is as irrelevant as the report suggests, why is daily demand for it so heavy, and why is the Government investing in renewing it?
Such comments may mislead non-BPLRT users into thinking that it was a mistake to build it. It was not, although its routes could have included fewer sharp turns.
Non-BPLRT users may also be misled into supporting romantic but unfeasible suggestions, such as discontinuing the BPLRT and converting its tracks into a “sky bridge” for pedestrians.
To ensure the longevity of the BPLRT service until after most of the upgrading works are completed in 2022, offering replacement buses during off-peak hours is the best solution.
The alternative would be increased risks of LRT breakdowns.
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