LTA’s experiments to “encourage people to smile” while commuting


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) wants to make your journey on public transport “a little less harried.”

So it is introducing buskers performing at train platforms, and elaborately-decorated themed carriages.

Also, don’t be surprised to see “staff clutching stuffed toy flowers and giving out tissues to welcome commuters.”

All these will be part of its “social experiments” to help make the commute “more palatable and encourage people to smile.”

“We’re launching a series of trials to foster a positive commuter culture — be it behaviour, interaction or atmosphere,” said the LTA’s director of corporate transformation and futures, Agnes Kwek.

According to a TODAY report:

“The initiatives will be piloted at selected SMRT train stations on a small-scale basis, so the LTA can monitor commuters’ receptiveness before assessing whether to implement them at other stations.

“Kicking off the initiatives is a football-themed cabin on the North-South Line. It comes decked with 3-D turf grass and soccer ball toys, as well as stickers of a football pitch and prints of cleats directing commuters to the middle of the cabin.”

The LTA is also allowing buskers to perform at station platforms and concourses.

This, it said, “will not only add vibrancy to the stations and make the public transport experience more interesting, but will also provide an additional platform for local performers to showcase their talents.”

But this is just the start, apparently.

“We will monitor commuters’ response to our busking trial and consider allowing performances in trains going forward,” said an LTA spokesperson.

But not everyone welcomes the initiatives.

Hamish Brown, producer/presenter and owner of Journey Promotions Pte Ltd, slammed the “social experiments” as signs of a “disconnect.”

Posting on the TODAY Facebook page, Mr Brown said:

“[The] public’s idea of a better MRT experience and the operators’ idea, while quaint, are at complete odds,” he said.

He said that it is more important to ensure that there are “sufficient trains so there is enough place and there is no sardine packing – this means more trains, more frequently and absolutely minimal to no breakdowns in service.”

“This means massive overhaul of maintenance SOPs and simply a whole lot more of functioning trains and competent maintenance and operating staff. This absolutely must be done since 6.9 million is a forgone conclusion and currently at 5 million- we are nowhere close to efficient.”

Mr Brown was not the only one who are not supportive of the initiatives.

“Honestly? A waste of money. Seriously. Money would be better spent on improving efficiency of trains. All these fluff is not gonna hide the lousy service,” said Riley Leong.

Winz Cheng urged the LTA to “just get the basics right please.’

“Don’t try to be extra when basics are not even in place,” she said.

“Just make sure there is no train delay, everyone will be happy!” Mun Ira Bee said. “No need to waste money on all this. Just lower the fare and everyone is happy.”

Alva Chew, too, felt there was no need for these things.

“This is as idiotic as it gets. Dear LTA, you know what will make a good commuting experience? LESS CROWDED TRAINS ON TIME. STOP WASTING TIME ON BS.”

What do you think of the LTA’s “social experiments”?

Will you smile the next time you take the trains and encounter a busker, or MRT staff holding flowers?

Voice and vote here on Public Opinion: “LTA should get basics right first, and forget about the fluff”.