Better not to talk when using public transport to contain the transmission of COVID-19, says Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan

Better not to talk when using public transport to contain the transmission of COVID-19, says Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan

As a precaution to contain the transmission of COIVD-19, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan urged commuters that it is better not to talk when using public transport as it will increase the transmission of the disease with droplets being spread by talking.

Mr Khaw recommended several precautionary measures for commuters during a visit to the Bright Hill MRT station on Monday (23 March).

He urged people who are not feeling well to not use public transport to reduce the risk of endangering other commuters, reducing the unnecessary travels amid the outbreak of COVID-19 and “talk softly” if necessary.

He said, “Best, don’t talk. Let fellow commuters have a quiet journey.”

As an alternative to avoid travelling during peak hours, Mr Khaw also called for employers to support staggered and flexible working hours and tele-commuting for staff.

Noting that two-thirds of his ministry is working from home, he said that productivity is not affected but in fact, employees have more time for work when the time for commuting is reduced.

Although many were working from home, he noted that more could do so as there is minimal necessity for people to gather at an office when there is telecommunications connectivity.

“I hope post-pandemic, office life for most will no longer be the same,” said Mr Khaw, adding, “This will reduce peak hour demand and the pressure on us to add more trains and more lines at great cost to taxpayers and commuters.”

Stage 2 of TEL to benefit over 60,000 households

Meanwhile, Mr Khaw also announced that Stage 2 of the Thomson-East Coast line (TEL), which is expected to open after July, will benefit over 60,000 households located near the six new stations.

He said that the testing of the six-station stretch will be conducted from April to July while the services on Stage 1 will make some adjustments to facilitate the testing of Stage 2.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT, the train services on Stage 1 of TEL from Woodlands North to Woodlands South will close earlier at 10.00pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and start later at 6.30am every Saturday and Sunday, starting from 3 April to 26 July 2020.

Mr Khaw said the action is required, explaining, “This will allow us to run trains through the entire stretch of nine stations, from Woodlands North to Caldecott for thorough integrated testing.”

He added, “We did the same for the Downtown Line which also opened in stages.”

Earlier, it was reported that government has allocated $100 million on simulation facilities for all rail lines across Singapore to increase the robustness of testing and minimise the potential disruption to passenger service.

Of all the building simulation facilities, TEL was among the first ones to be set up jointly with Singapore’s rail operators and manufacturers Siemens and Alstom.

“2020 will be better” – Mr Khaw

On 2 January, the Transport Minister also had remarked that 2019 was “a very good year” for the MRT, with the network recording more than one million train-kilometres between delays in the first nine months. That is 18 times better than 2011’s figure and comparable to only a few other rail systems around the world.

Cautioning transport workers from being too complacent, he had said, “Remember: this is a continuous commitment.”

“Today’s reliability does not guarantee tomorrow’s. We have to stay vigilant and diligent all the time,” he added.

Mr Khaw had then concluded by saying that 2019 was good for public transport and that “2020 will be better”.

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