Sunday, October 25, 2009

Electronic display on MRT trains

I noticed that the MRT train now has an electric display near the train doors. It displays the names of the next station and also the door that will be opening. I find this sign to be the most practical approach. It is probably the most economical and useful of all the display systems.

I hope that all the MRT trains will be equipped with this electronic display soon. I suggest that the messages should include Chinese to reach to a large proportion of the population. The Malays and Indians will probably find the English messages to be sufficient.


  1. Dear Mr Tan KL,
    Our SMRT trains are behind time because such electronic information system is available in subway trains(to quote) in Japan and Hongkong many many years ago.

  2. anon411, you have to give SMRT and SBS some time. Our lines are still developing and it won't make much sense to equip all trains with the electric display when new stations are coming up in the next 2-3 years. There are some trains already equipped though, it shows that they are experimenting with it.

  3. Many times I have witnessed in the MRT trains that this useful display is not turned on and thus defeating it's usefullness.

    And I always think to myself,"Why is it always like that? It's good when you have something useful, but then other factors cause it to be useless, like not being turned on."

  4. I am a bit at a loss on this matter. There are several aspects here.

    Firstly, I would welcome electronic information systems to be installed on all trains. I have been to both Tokyo and Hong Kong and found them useful. Actually, I think Tokyo trains have better electronic information system than our SMRT trains, but it's still a good start for our own system.

    However, as wjsim mentioned, our MRT system is still being expanded. It would not be cost-effective to install such displays on all trains when the Tuas extension and the Marina South extension will be built in a few years' time.

    Also, a display system must be useful. In some cases the usefulness of the system is greatly reduced when self-advertising messages or other irrelevant messages gets displayed for an extended period of time. My pet peeve for north east line displays at the station entrances is that they always show messages like "Welcome to North East Line station" for a very long time when I am more interested in knowing whether the next train leaves in 1 minute or 5 minutes.

    Lastly, it is very important not just to install the system but also to have it well-maintained so that it is working months and years after it is installed. Too many times I find such useful systems installed to score brownie points, but the system gets degraded over time due to lack of maintenance, leading to an unreliable system or a system that is partially turned off. For example, on the north east line, I frequently board southbound trains with a display stuck at the message "Punggol" instead of telling me what the next station is. The LTA SMS system for the academic belt currently misses certain buses altogether, making it difficult for people to trust it for traveling decisions. If this is the trend, then I rather not have any such systems installed at all because they are not useful in the long run. The LTA and public transport operators must not have the attitude that such systems are merely cost centers and neglect them in the long run. It is very wasteful to deploy such a system, not maintain them, and then decide to replace it with a new system every few years down the road, but I fear that this is increasingly the kind of attitude that is adopted.


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