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Heads-up on train service: Look for Smiley

QUICK CHECK: iDisplay panels - which use emoticons to show the status of train lines - will be rolled out at 17 stations soon. Commuters will see a smiley face when services are running smoothly and a sad face when there are disruptions.


    Mar 03, 2014

    Heads-up on train service: Look for Smiley

    WANT to know at a glance which train lines are running smoothly?

    New information boards - using emoticons to show the status of train lines - have already started making an appearance at some MRT stations here.

    Commuters will be greeted with a yellow smiley-face emoticon when services are running smoothly, a neutral expression for delays and a sad face for disruptions.

    In the event of a train disruption, a flashing red light will appear at the top of the panel, along with a service-disruption message.

    An estimated time before normal service resumes, as well as the availability of free bus-bridging services at affected stations, will also be shown.

    Such "iDisplay" panels are already in operation at 13 stations on the North-South and East-West lines, including Raffles Place, Outram Park, Jurong East and Buona Vista.

    They will be rolled out by SMRT at a total of 17 stations - including Tanah Merah, Marina Bay, Tampines and Boon Lay stations - by the end of this month.

    Trials started at Bedok Station two years ago, said SMRT's director for media marketing and communication, Ms Alina Boey.

    The displays will be linked to SMRT's main command centre.

    The installation of the panels comes after a spate of train delays and disruptions on SMRT's network since the start of the year.

    A major delay occurred as recently as last Monday, when a "track circuit failure" on the North-South Line caused commuters to be late by up to 50 minutes.

    Mr Kelvin Foo, director of transport consultancy TTS Group, said iDisplay will give commuters advance information to make alternative travel plans if needed.

    "The public transport network is quite extensive now, and there's more than one (way) to get to a destination should there be a disruption," Mr Foo said, adding that the effectiveness of the panels hinges on the reliability of the information provided and whether commuters take notice of them.

    Corporate communications officer Raymond Poon, 33, said the panels are a "good idea", but he was unsure about the emoticons.

    He said: "It may be better to have only the smiley face and ditch the rest. Putting up an angry face when people are already feeling irritated during a seems frivolous and people may get the impression that the situation is being trivialised."