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Friday, 23 April 2010

ST Forum letter: "Make MRT system more user-friendly"

In anticipation of the opening of the Circle Line to our MRT system and (somewhat) fresh from my trip to Japan, I banged out the following letter and sent it off to the Straits Times Forum. I hadn't really put in much effort to writing it, and felt that its standard was below what the Straits Times would accept.

So it was a pleasant surprise when I saw it in the papers! As I had mused over Twitter, it might have been a slow letter day.

Here's a comparison of what I had emailed to the Straits Times and how it was finally published.

As a modern, world-class subway system, the MRT provides a fast and efficient mode of transport for Singaporeans and visitors. With more Circle Line stations opening in mid-April, this is a good opportunity to take another look at the usability of our MRT system With the increasing sophistication and complexity of the MRT system, it may be timely for the authorities to review its user-friendly aspects to cater to first-time users and our aging the ageing population.

1. Circle Line station numbers: (removed paragraph break) The Circle Line uses yellow as its line colour. However, the station numbers are in white text, similar to what is used in other MRT stations.

(new paragraph) Unfortunately, the white-text-on-yellow does not provide a sufficient contrast. As a result Consequently, it is difficult to make out the Circle Line station numbers from afar. This The problem can be remedied easily solved by outlining the text in black, which would then to make the station numbers stand out.

2. Train colours for all MRT lines: (removed paragraph break) When we only had two MRT lines, it It was easy to distinguish the train lines between the when there were only two, even when making transfers. Adding a third line, the Circle Line, could potentially introduce confusion to confuse visitors. In a few years, we will have a fourth line, the Downtown Line.

(new paragraph) To easily make it easy to identify the trains that serve the various lines train we want, I suggest taking a leaf from what we should copy other subway systems which use a better colour scheme for easy identification.

(new paragraph) There, not Not only do the train lines have unique colours, but the trains themselves are also are coloured similarly.

In our context then Singapore, a North-South train would could be coloured red, an East-West train coloured green, a North-East train coloured purple, and a Circle Line train coloured yellow.

(new paragraph) I realise that this This would clash with the respective train operators' brand colours. However, I think , but it is even more important that our trains are easily identifiable to commuters, which will then make subway MRT travel more convenient and efficient.

I hope that the Land Transport Authority and train operators will seriously consider the above suggestions to improve our outstanding MRT system.
Moral of the story:
  • Keep it brief, stupid!
  • Use short paragraphs. Two sentences per paragraph at most. Silly me for forgetting this from my university journalism class!
  • Even though its public transport, the public doesn't own the buses or trains.
  • Don't suggest next steps for the government. I guess then that they have to read between the lines to know what to do next.
With regards to that last point, I have a feeling that no action will be taken. My letter was published nearly two weeks ago, and I've yet to see a single response from any agency, be it the Land Transport Authority, SMRT or SBS Transit.

So my joy at seeing my letter in the papers is bittersweet. My effort has probably ended up in some bureaucratic black hole. Ah well. "You can't always get what you want."