Photo of crowded shuttle bus taken by CNA Justin Ong

In a press release by SMRT yesterday (Jan 5), 20% more resources will be allocated for the closure of the 12 East-West Line stations -Pasir Ris to Paya Lebar, Tanah Merah to Changi Airport – this weekend. The move follow a flood of complaints from the public over the manpower shortage during last weekend’s closure.

1,200 staffs and bus drivers will be deployed to direct commuters to train-replacement shuttle bus services. Commuters will pay regular train fares for the shuttle buses. Severe overcrowding and chaos is expected as the country’s eastern region is the most populous.

During a 4 hour train breakdown on the airport-direction train service earlier this week, thousands of tourists carrying their luggages flooded the airport station. SMRT was underhanded resulting in commuters not knowing where to get shuttle bus services and having to queue more than half an hour to board a bus.

In last week’s weekend closure, SMRT hired part-timers at S$10/hr as guides without training them. Road marshals also complaines that they were swamped with queries and that they were not properly trained to handle the situations.

SMRT acknowledged the chaos last week saying this is why they are ramping up resources by 20%:

“We decided to send more workers to the ground following its experience handling the shortened operating hours along the western end of the EWL in December. Learning from the closures on the western half of the line, we need to give more ‘human’ information. A lot of people were still asking for information at the stations.”