This is a guest post contributed by Ling.
Train breakdowns are so common in Singapore these days that they are no longer something new to commuters. In fact, commuters are starting to get used to it.
Yes. We’re used to the breakdowns.
They are never pleasant. Downright frustrating, actually.
But if you know what to do, you can manage the situation and not allow it to overwhelm you.
Here are 6 useful tips on how to survive a train breakdown in Singapore.
1. Don’t join the queue for fare refund
Singaporeans generally like to join snaking queues even though they may not be sure what they’re queuing for.
However, this is one circumstance where you do not want to be queuing to get your fare refund. Why?
During prolonged train disruptions, train operators will usually allow you to collect your fare refund within the next 14 days from passenger service counters at any train station. So save your frustration and collect your refund another day!
2. Listen to the announcements over the PA system
If you’ve been waiting for the train for some time and it’s starting to get crowded, try not to rush out of the MRT exit just yet. The trick is to stay calm and wait for the announcements over the PA system.
Based on past experiences, the station staff will usually make a few rounds of service announcements in case some commuters miss it.
Instead of running around like a headless chicken and adding to the already possibly chaotic situation, keep cool like a cucumber and wait for the station staff to confirm that trains are disrupted.
3. Buses can lead you home too
You can catch a free ride on SMRT and SBS shuttle buses at the bus stop outside the affected train station. It will take you to the MRT stations that are affected by the disruption.
If you can’t board the shuttle bus because of the crowd, you can either wait or check out other bus services that lead you home.
Google map app is pretty useful in recommending suitable bus routes that can get you home safely – you may need to walk for a few minutes to another bus stop but hey, that’s better than being stuck in the crowd!
4. Subscribe to “SG MRT” bot on Telegram
This telegram bot is seriously quite useful and accurate in informing users of breakdowns, signal faults and train faults.
All you have to do is download the Telegram app, search for “@sgmrt_bot” and click join. Once you’re in the chat, type “/start” and “/subscribe” after the bot sends you a few introductory messages.
It’s created by 22-year-old NSF Marcus Koh who wanted to know if the train services are working when he books out from camp.
Right now, the bot only provides information for SMRT lines. With this bot, you can proactively plan your journey and avoid being stuck in a train disruption!
5. Keep a “survival kit” in your bag
Always make sure your phone is fully charged before you hop on the train. It can keep you company if a train disruption does happen.
If you have a power bank, bring it along with you too in case your phone battery goes flat from listening to songs and playing games.
Xiaomi has a super slim 5000mAh power bank that allows you to have one to two full charges!
Don’t forget your earphones, some sweets (in case you feel faint from hunger or heat) and medicated oil as it may get quite stuffy!
6. Don’t travel with a full bladder
You may have a strong bladder but don’t overestimate yourself and hold it in, thinking that you’ll be able to visit the restroom after you alight from the train.
Even if you’re running a little late for your appointment, it’s better to be prudent by visiting the restroom before hopping on the train!
Picture yourself trying to get some fresh air in a sardine-can MRT carriage and your bladder is on the verge of bursting. You wouldn’t want to go there.
Commuters have to deal with lots of inconveniences during train breakdowns but sometimes the frontline station staff have it worse.
According to a Facebook post published by National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) Executive-Secretary Melvin Yong, rail workers drop out of their family activities when disruptions happen on weekends. They are also often at risk of verbal abuse.
So let’s try to keep our frustrations to ourselves and appreciate those who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep our trains and buses moving!