MRT delays are a way of life in Singapore. Over the last decade, we’ve come to terms with the fact that those days of near-100% reliability are never coming back.
But since it doesn’t look like cars will ever be affordable, that’s just something most of us have to learn to live with. Now that MRT breakdowns are the new normal, we need to be prepared for a delay every single time we step through those gantries.
Here are six survival tips to make the next delay less frustrating.
Always go to the toilet before leaving for the MRT station
Squeezing into a sardine-can MRT carriage is a million times worse when you have to go to the loo. And it becomes a trillion times worse if said MRT breaks down and you’re trapped indefinitely in the steamy little carriage.
Make life easier for yourself by always, always going to the toilet before setting out, and remember that you’re doing yourself no favours if you decide to drink one litre of water ten minutes before leaving.
Bring something enjoyable to do on the MRT
If you’re going to be stuck on the MRT for hours every week, you’d best bring something useful and/or interesting to do. There’s only so much time you can spend playing mindless games on your smartphone or complaining to your friends on WhatsApp.
Other than books, magazines and music/headphones, there are other things you can do on the train. For instance, if you are a knitter, you already know that knitting is the perfect way to while away 45 wasted minutes. Load up your MP3 player with podcasts. Write in your journal. Try to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Study Esperanto. There’s quite a bit you can do if you come prepared.
Make sure your phone is fully charged
There’s a reason Singaporeans stare so resolutely at their smartphones when they’re on the MRT. It’s the easiest way to numb themselves to the overcrowded surroundings.
Should an MRT breakdown occur, your phone running out of battery is the worst thing that could possibly happen, since it means you’re pretty much stuck glaring at the 5,000 people pressed up against you.
So always ensure your phone is fully charged before you leave the house, and if possible, bring along a power bank, too. It’s also a good idea to keep a charger at work so you can charge up your devices before making the commute home, since the MRT has this nasty habit of breaking down when you’re rushing home after a tiring day at work.
On a more practical note, having a working phone also means you’ll be able to receive updates on the breakdown, figure out transport alternatives and call a cab/Grab/friend/family member to come get you when you finally make it out of the MRT station.
Follow SMRT’s updates on Twitter and Facebook
When you’re stuck on the MRT and the doors haven’t opened in fifteen minutes, you want to know what the hell is going on. Follow SMRT’s updates on Twitter and Facebook so you stay updated on delays and alternative transport arrangements if any.
Download LTA’s MyTransport, Grab, Uber and Google Maps
Whether you are lucky enough to not have stepped onto the MRT before it broke down, or are waiting patiently for your release into the outside world, one thing’s for sure—you’ll want to figure out how you can get to your destination ASAP.
If you intend to use public transport, LTA’s MyTransport app and Google Maps are indispensable. You’ll be able to figure out how to take a bus to your destination and find the right bus stops using these two apps. The MyTransport app also sends you notifications when there is a breakdown or a delay, and those are indispensable.
You’ll also need apps like Grab and Uber so you can summon a car or taxi pronto for times when you just can’t be late.
Avoid travelling during peak hour
MRT breakdowns tend to happen during peak hour, when the transport system struggles to cope with the massive influx of people rushing to and from work.
If you have any sort of flexibility at work, avoid peak hour like the plague. That could mean coming to work 20 minutes earlier or later. And hey, if you’re going to be stuck in an MRT breakdown anyway, better to have it happen when the train is empty enough to give you a modicum of breathing room.
Do you have any tips for making life easier during the next MRT breakdown? Share them with us in the comments!