Stages 1 & 2 of Circle Line to open in first half of 2010

The next phase of the Circle Line – Stages 1 and 2 – will start operations in the first half of 2010. Transport Minister Raymond Lim revealed this at a dialogue session in Bukit Panjang on Sunday.

Its exact opening date, however, will only be finalised after engineers complete the necessary tests.

The first five stations on the Circle Line opened for service on May 28. Even though ridership has not been as high as initially projected on the 5.7-kilometre stretch, this could change with the opening of 11 new stations next year.

Stage 1 of the Circle Line starts from Dhoby Ghaut, through MRT stations like Esplanade and Nicoll Highway, and ends at Stadium, while Stage 2 starts from Mountbatten, through interchange station Paya Lebar, and ends at Tai Seng.

The other 13 stations from Marymount to Harbourfront will be ready by 2011. Daily ridership of this 33.3-kilometre line is estimated to be close to half a million when it is fully operational.

As for buses, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which is taking over the role of central bus network planner from year’s end, will consult grassroots leaders islandwide on how to improve the bus network from next month.

Mr Lim said: “Rather than do a major overhaul of the existing system which may actually lead to people being worse off, (we want to) get a feel of how residents want this because really, there is no right or wrong answer here. Different people have different needs and want it done differently.”

LTA hopes to complete this consultation exercise by end-March next year.

A Bukit Panjang resident, whose child has to endure long bus rides to school, said: “Because there are no direct buses, it takes three hours of travelling time, to and fro, from our constituency to Nanyang Technological University.”

Another resident has a grouse on the location of a new MRT station which is to be built in Bukit Panjang as part of the new Downtown Line.

“All of us are very happy about that, but the location isn’t very convenient because it’s not linked to the LRT and is far away from the interchange,” he said.

Responding to this, Mr Lim said there are technical constraints in the area, but the LTA is looking for a better solution.

What Bukit Panjang’s grassroots leaders hope to achieve in their talks with the LTA is to move the bus interchange from its current premises closer to the new MRT station of the Downtown Line.

This would then link all three transport nodes – MRT, LRT and buses – within a 70-metre radius. Currently, the proposed new MRT station is 120 metres away from the bus interchange.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 30 Aug 2009

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