Singapore Mass Rapid Transit
iPhoneOgraphy – 24 Jun 2016 (Day 176/366)
The Mass Rapid Transit, or MRT, is a rapid transit system forming the major component of the railway system in Singapore, spanning the entire city-state. The initial section of the MRT, between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh, opened on 7 November 1987, making it the second-oldest metro system in Southeast Asia, after Manila’s LRT System. The network has since grown rapidly in accordance with Singapore’s aim of developing a comprehensive rail network as the backbone of the public transport system in Singapore, with an average daily ridership of 3.031 million in 2015 (including the Light Rail Transit (LRT)), approximately 78% of the bus network’s 3.891 million in the same period.
The MRT network encompasses 170.7 kilometres (106.1 mi) of route, with 101 stations in operation, on standard gauge. The lines are built by the Land Transport Authority, a statutory board of the Government of Singapore, which allocates operating concessions to the profit-based corporations, SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit. These operators also run bus and taxi services, thus facilitating full integration of public transport devices. The MRT is complemented by a small number of local LRT networks in Bukit Panjang, Sengkang and Punggol that link MRT stations with HDB public housing estates.
The origins of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) are derived from a forecast by city planners in 1967 which stated the need for a rail-based urban transport system by 1992. Following a debate on whether a bus-only system would be more cost-effective, Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister of Singapore came to the conclusion that an all-bus system would be inadequate, as it would have to compete for road space in a land-scarce country. The initial S$5 billion construction of the Mass Rapid Transit network was Singapore’s largest public works project at the time, starting on 22 October 1983 at Shan Road. The network was built in stages, with the North South Line given priority because it passed through the Central Area that has a high demand for public transport. The Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRTC), later renamed as SMRT Corporation — was established on 14 October 1983; it took over the roles and responsibilities of the former provisional Mass Rapid Transit Authority. On 7 November 1987, the first section of the North South Line started operations, consisting of five stations over six kilometres. Fifteen more stations were opened later, and the MRT system was officially launched on 12 March 1988 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Another 21 stations were subsequently added to the system; the opening of Boon Lay on the East West Line on 6 July 1990 marked the completion of the system two years ahead of schedule.
The MRT has subsequently been expanded. The first expansion was in 1996. This was a S$1.2 billion expansion of the North South Line into Woodlands, merging the Branch Line into the North South Line and joining Yishun and Choa Chu Kang Stations. The concept of having rail lines that bring people almost directly to their homes led to the introduction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines connecting with the MRT network. On 6 November 1999, the first LRT trains on the Bukit Panjang LRT went into operation. In 2002, the Changi Airport and Expo stations were added to the MRT network. The North East Line, the first line operated by SBS Transit, opened on 20 June 2003, one of the first fully automated heavy rail lines in the world. On 15 January 2006, after intense lobbying by the public, Buangkok station was opened. The Boon Lay Extension of the East West Line, consisting of Pioneer and Joo Koon stations, began revenue service on 28 February 2009. The Circle Line opened in four stages from 28 May 2009 to 14 January 2012. Stage 1 of Downtown Line opened on 22 December 2013 with its official opening made on 21 December 2013 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Stage 2 opened on 27 December 2015, with its official opening on 26 December by Prime Minister Lee.