austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The passengers for Allentown are gone

Good news everyone, it's time for another infrastructure post. The Buangkok MRT station on the North-East line has finally opened, to official ceremonies and high-ranking visitors and festoonery and balloons and prizes to the first 168 riders. I can't imagine why they wouldn't have given it to the first 178 riders instead, as that would be twice 88, a very auspicious number. With the Lunar New Year coming up we're seeing the peak of ``auspicious'' as a word. SBS Transit, the line's managing company, delayed the opening when the rest of the line started service in mid-2003, because they projected low ridership due to the lack of development in the area. Residents are delighted to have the station open, particularly since it gives a direct connection to Chinatown just in time for the Lunar New Year.

I was surprised by how close the station is to other stations -- it's not a far walk to the Renjong station on the Sengkang Light Rail Transit line. And if you don't feel like taking the light rail and catching a connection to the North-East Line, you could just walk a tiny bit farther and get to the Sengkang Interchange, where bus lines, MRT line, and LRT line converge. Densely spaced transit stations are common downtown, but this is building in advance of development; they expect this area to be the next big suburb.

The station's overall architecture, as with much of the North-East Line, has as its theme ``pieces left over from 1980s Star Trek movies and shows,'' with this particular exterior a series of gentle and airy curves even for the side adjacent to housing construction. Even the concourse level faintly looks like it's supposed to fit in the engineering hull of the Refit Enterprise. The rim of the opening to the platform level is decorated with pictures, meant -- according to the artist's plaque -- to represent ``the vitality of Buangkok New Town and the optimism of its residents,'' with works ``echoing Buangkok's past and celebrating its present.''

There's not so much celebration on the platform level, but it is nice and bright. I don't know if it's simply that they turned up the lights for opening day or if it's a particular design feature but the standard shot of the station name above platform doors needed a much shorter exposure here than for other stations. The one detail I don't get is a series of pillars with triangular frames of metal that look like they'd be telephone stations, if there weren't the metal cylinders there. This ellipses-and-exclamation motif has to be a deliberate design, not simply filling in for telephones not installed, since it's repeated on the concourse and the platform levels. I just don't get it.

Trivia: Dr John Gorrie opened in 1853 a commercial ice-producing factory in Cleveland, Ohio. It was not commercially successful, due largely to competition from the natural ice. Source: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, Tom Shachtman.

Currently Reading: The Panic Broadcast: The Whole Story of Orson Welles' Legendary Radio Show Invasion From Mars, Howard Koch.


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