Saturday, February 28, 2009

Boon for Boon Lay

Two new MRT stops to ease crowding at western station

THE twice-daily chaos that grips Boon Lay MRT station during the morning and evening peak hours on weekdays will soon quieten down.

The station, a popular pick-up and drop-off point, is where private buses wait bumper-to-bumper in public bus bays, taxi stands and along Boon Lay Way to pick up or drop off a crush of scurrying
commuters, mainly those working in Tuas and Jurong.

Relief has appeared in the form of two new MRT stations west of Boon Lay, which will also cut travelling time to other parts of the island by up to 15 minutes for the area's residents.

Boon Lay, which used to be the western-most station on the East-West Line, will, from 5.30am today, have a track extending further out west to the pair of new MRT stops, Pioneer and Joo Koon, which will now bear some of the commuter load and spread out the crowds.

Their opening means that the buses chartered by factories to ferry their workers to and from Boon Lay can now stop elsewhere, perhaps at Joo Koon station.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has paved the way for this by building a sheltered bus bay along Benoi Road, about 200m from Joo Koon station.

The bus bay can take up to seven 40-seater buses and is linked to Joo Koon station by a covered walkway.

Already, private bus operators have indicated that they are willing to pick up or drop off commuters there instead of at Boon Lay.

Mr Chitson Yap of Chitson Transport, for instance, said at least one of his clients has already approached him to discuss the matter.

The factories and companies in the area are also positive about the change, partly because having their workers picked up or dropped off at Joo Koon will cost less.

Ms Melissa Lau, the human resource manager at plastics factory Superpet Plastic in Tuas, said that if transport companies could 'give a better discount', moving the pick-up/drop-off point to Joo Koon would be good.

She added: 'Boon Lay is definitely messy in the mornings. Moving to Joo Koon will solve the problem.'

Pioneer and Joo Koon stations, declared open yesterday by Transport Minister Raymond Lim, are part of the 3.8km long Boon Lay Extension, which cost $436 million and took 31/2 years to build.

The extension is the first of $40 billion worth of new rail projects aimed at coaxing more people to use public transport.

The 35,000 people living or working west of Boon Lay station will be glad for the extension.

Instead of having to first make it to Boon Lay station by public or private bus, car, taxi, bicycle or on
foot for onward journeys elsewhere, they will now be linked to the rest of the rail network by the two new stations.

Mr Lim called the opening of Pioneer and Joo Koon stations a significant milestone, as they are the first new stops since the Government unveiled its ambitious plan last year to revamp the public transport system.

The extension of the East-West Line will 'help to improve the attractiveness of public transport as a choice mode of travel', he said at the extension's opening ceremony at Pioneer station.

Pioneer sits along Jurong West Street 63, while Joo Koon, the East-West Line's new terminal station, is at Joo Koon Circle, near the Tuas industrial area, the Singapore Discovery Centre and the Safti Military Institute.

At the official opening of the extension yesterday, Mr Lim led hundreds of LTA officials and guests in a countdown.

At the count of zero, a train pulled into the station, honking its horn loudly.

The new disabled-friendly stations each have four lifts and four escalators.

Commuters who use them can also expect to do a spot of shopping along the overhead bridges leading to them.

Source: Straits Times - 28 Feb 2009

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