Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Happy Journey

Everyone and their mother rides the MRT in Singapore. You'll probably see everyone and their mother if you ride it everyday like I do too. It's the cheapest way to get around on this island. Each ride costs only like $1.50 US and that's if you travel a ways. Yet, it's definitely not the quickest mode of transport. For example, it takes me an hour and a half to travel twenty miles to work every morning (and then again in the afternoon).

So many ask us, why don't you just get a car? Well, there are many expensive reasons. Owning a car is very much a luxury that two twenty something newlyweds cannot easily afford. An inexpensive car in the States (such as a Kia Picanto is about S$32,000 used and that's before you pay very expensive taxes, registration-esque fees, ERP tolls and for parking (which costs EVERYWHERE you go). I know a Singaporean who bought a car that has a smaller engine than the Smart car. He paid an insane S$50,000.

So that's why many many many Singaporeans and foreigners (like me!) take the MRT everyday to get to work, the store and anywhere else we need to go.

Because of this, it can get crowded. During "rush hour", you will be so packed in that train you'll feel like a sardine. If your nose itches, tough. You aren't going to be able to raise your arm without feeling up someone's butt.

With that nice mental image, can you also imagine the issues there are with getting off a train when the crowds are roaring?

It's ugly.

It seems that the people who ride these things do not understand the concept of waiting until people get off the friggin' thing before they barrel into it. I've been shoved so many times as I try to get off at my stop that I used to close my eyes and pray I make it out.

That lasted about two weeks. Then I got pissed.

Now, I body check anyone that tries to push me out of the way. It's like I'm a line backer and these "shovers" are the other team at my line of scrimmage. I don't even feel bad about it either. You shove me, I shove you back. But harder. And I'm bigger. Ha.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the MRT people (I'm sorry, but I don't know the official name) have launched a much better way to educate my fellow countrymen on MRT etiquette.

They've posted these signs on all of the MRT stations, MRT trains and I think the buses too.

The images were borrowed from madaboutasia's Flikr page since I cannot carry a camera with me to work.

They also made a "rap" video that plays on the TV screens in the station. It features Gurmit Singh, a popular Singaporean TV actor. (He's actually the only SG actor I like, but definitely not because of the rap video.)

So today I only saw one teenage girl pretending to sleep as a poor 70-year-old woman stood and held on to the poles for dear life. But they still tried to shove me.

I think we need t-shirts. That should drive the point home.


Hil said...

hahaha! i feel your pain. i was going to post something myself about the new etiquette signs in the paris metro. apparently we have the exact same problems here with people not letting others off the train before crowding on. i wonder if a rap video would help... ;)

Nekronot said...

Those ads contribute, in their own small way, towards making me ashamed to be a Singaporean. The very fact that the "MRT People" think we need it... Ahem.

Since you're going to be on the island of little social graces for a while, let me advise that those "sleeping" people are part of the common fauna that you will encounter on public transport.

That being said, I hope your encounters with the rude here, both past and future, will not take away too much of your ability to enjoy yourself during your stay on the island. :)

Ken said...

Yeah, people in Singapore are rude and crude. But when you tell this to a Singaporean, they'll say it's only the foreign workers.

I can't wait for another 2 years before I'm outta here.