austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Everybody wants to smile

After spending most of the current century in Singapore and pretty much all my trips on it taken by public transportation I've gotten to taking a lot of the details of it for granted, particularly once announcements start being made. After getting up on a thousand trips on the MRT system, how much can I not have heard, apart from announcements of stations being closed for an emergency or emergency drill or something like that?

But as it happens as I entered the City Hall Interchange right about 6 pm, pretty near rush hour even for the weekends when people don't need to get home from their jobs, and worked my way past slightly thicker than normal crowds, they had a fresh announcement that so far as I know I've never heard before: Your attention please. The station is crowded. If you are not taking the train, please leave the station. If you are not taking the train, please leave the station. Thank you for your cooperation. And then after just a few seconds -- barely enough to let the message get fully out of your head -- they repeated the announcement. This was urgent enough they didn't even duplicate the message in Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. However, by repeating the message so quickly and so often, they made getting out of the station very attractive. Just before I got on the train they also had an announcement asking for a particular person to approach the station attendants.

I'm curious whether this is a side-effect of the current airport panic and transit security guys coming to the conclusion they'd have a much easier time making mass transit secure if only these masses didn't keep getting on and riding around and getting off of it, or whether this is part of Singapore's ongoing efforts to transcend mere service excellence and enter an ISO 9000-certified customer-oriented paradise. Last weekend there was a bonfire going on in two trash cans and some surrounding spots outside the Clementi MRT station, without creating any trouble so far as I could tell except for adding some woody smoke to the open-air platform, but Clementi is way off to the west, not in the center of the city. I'd have to check during rush hour again sometime, although I prefer to not get on the big interchanges that time of day because the stations are crowded.

Trivia: The first public railway near London was built in 1803. It used horse-drawn wagons. London: A History, Francis Sheppard.

Currently Reading: South: The Endurance Expedition, Ernest Shackleton.


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