Brunei’s Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah (left) receiving a briefing from a Home Team officer standing next to Minister of State, Ministry of Communication and Information and Ministry of Education Dr Janil Puthucheary (centre) / photo: MHA - Aizil Bin A. Rahim

Puthucheary not in hurry to open Hume MRT station for residents

Following an announcement by Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary that Hume MRT station would be opened by 2025, TODAY polled 20 residents at bus stops along Upper Bukit Timah Road and Hume Avenue this week. 85% of them – or 17 residents – felt that the wait was too long.

The Senior Minister of State said that the new developments around the area would now justify “sufficient ridership” for the station to be opened by 2025. Some upcoming developments in the area include the transformation of the former Bukit Timah Fire Station into a “gateway node” for surrounding nature and heritage attractions.

The Hume station is meant to serve residents of a number of condominiums in the area, including Hume Park 1, Hume Park 2, Symphony Heights and Parc Palais.

Dr Puthucheary said that the Hume station was built during the second phase of the Downtown Line. During that time, the pace of developments and ridership growth in the area did not warrant an opening of that station.

Residents: Unhappy that the 6 year wait is too long

One resident at the Hume Park 1 condominium, a 65 year-old Alice Wong said that the time was “way too long” and that she “might not even live to enjoy the facility”.

She added that it was “troublesome to commute by bus” and felt that it was pointless to leave the station empty since it has already been completed.

Echoing this view was Shanaz Hassan, who stayed at the Hillington Green condominium. Although the expat felt that it was logical to open the station when it will be used by more commuters, six years is “still too long a wait”.

The Rail Mall, which consists of eateries and shops, is about a five-minute walk away.

PAP MP: Not opening Hume station “effectively leaves residents out” of the Land Transport Masterplan

MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC Ms Low Yen Ling was quoted as saying that most buses plying along Upper Bukit Timah Road were full by the time they reached Bukit Gombak. As a result, residents around the area were subjected to an extended wait.

She said that not opening Hume station “effectively leaves residents out” from the latest Land Transport Master Plan. By 2040, the plan aims to have an average savings of 15 minutes a day for peak hour projects.

An online search on the popular platform shows that it takes about 52 minutes by Bus (Service 75) to travel from that area to the CBD while the same MRT journey would take a mere 30 minutes.

Clearly, the opening of a readily available MRT station would enhance the transport infrastructure. Ms Low, understandably being an MP in the area, had to speak out for residents. But Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary continues to deny access to Hume residents in the area, at least for another 6 more years.

Another possible reason for government not to rush in the opening of Hume station could be because many of the condominium units in Hume area were rented out to foreigners. Actual Singaporean residents in the area may not be a lot. So, the Govt’s fear of voters’ backlash from this area may be minimal.