THE nearest MRT station for housewife Malika Khatri's Serangoon Avenue 3 home is just three bus stops away.
The trouble is, only one bus service plies the route to Serangoon MRT station.
'I go out during non-peak hours, and the bus can take up to 25 minutes to arrive while you sit baking in the sun,' said Ms Khatri, 29.
When Circle Line Stage 3 begins operations on May 30, she can kiss her long bus wait goodbye.
One of the line's five stations to open - Lorong Chuan - is just a five-minute walk away from her home.
Other stations that will open are Marymount, Bishan, Serangoon and Bartley. Bishan and Serangoon are existing stations but they currently serve only the North-South and North-East lines respectively.
Like Ms Khatri, residents in Lorong Chuan, Marymount and Bartley do not have an MRT station close to their homes. They have to take a bus to either Bishan station or Serangoon station, and largely rely on buses to get around.
But there are not many bus services to choose from. Fewer than 10 serve the areas where the Circle Line's new stations are situated. Waiting times can also be unpredictable, said the area's Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC).
'While the physical distance is short, the waiting time can be quite long,' said Mr Seah. Some bus services can take up to 20 to 25 minutes to arrive.
For the residents of Marymount, the new station will be a boon. It will help them bypass the traffic jams of Thomson Road during peak hours, said the area's MP, Mr Hri Kumar Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).
Madam Doris Chan, 62, who lives near Marymount station, is considering giving up driving to work when the station opens. 'The jam along Thomson Road is such a nuisance to deal with,' said the businesswoman, who works near Lavender MRT station.
Madam Chan and those who live around the five new stations will not be the only ones to benefit. Bishan and Serangoon residents will also be able to use the Circle Line to switch between it and the North-South and North-East lines when the stations become interchanges.
One expectant commuter is Mr Varatharaja Nadarajan, 50, who needs to make two bus trips from his home in Serangoon to his workplace in Yishun. During the evening peak hour, the journey home can take up to an hour.
When Circle Line Stage 3 opens, he can get from Serangoon to Yishun in 25 minutes.
'It will help me save a lot of time,' said Mr Nadarajan, an army regular.
Like many commuters, local businesses are also waiting with bated breath for the new stations to open. Some are hoping that the new stations will bring in a bigger crowd.
'We might have new customers who haven't been here before,' said Madam Suzanna Toh, 40, a hawker at Shunfu market, near Marymount station.
Source: Straits Times, 26 Feb 2009