Have you ever wondered how long it takes to travel the entire Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rapid Transit (LRT) network?
American national and Singapore Permanent Resident, Dom LaVigne, tackled the entire rail system recently (all nine lines and 174 stations) and documented it in a Facebook post.
LaVigne told Mothership that he spent 11 hours and 50 minutes in total on this endeavour on Sunday, November 7.
However, this timing was inclusive of two short breaks for lunch and dinner and one additional stop to use the loo. Without these, his travelling time was slightly over nine hours.
He spent S$15.49 in total although S$6 went into admin fees.
Here's a fun fact for you if you don't already know: If you remain in the MRT system for more than 120 minutes, your EZ Link card will be locked and you will incur a S$2 admin fee (to unlock your card) on top of your train fare.
Here is the route that LaVigne took:
11:54 - 11:58: Circle Line (CCL): Bishan to Caldecott, two stations, four mins
12:08 - 12:31: Entire Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL): Caldecott to Woodlands North, nine stations, 23 mins
12:32 - 12:53: TEL/NSL (North South Line): Woodlands North to Choa Chu Kang, five stations, 21 mins
12:58 - 13:19: Entire Bukit Panjang LRT: 13 stations, 21 mins
13:31 - 14:39: Entire Downtown Line (DTL): Bukit Panjang to Expo, 34 stations, 68 mins
14:44 - 14:48: East-West Line (EWL): Expo to Changi Airport, one station, four mins
14:55 - 15:50: Lunch (Jewel Changi Airport)
15:55 - 16:17: EWL: Changi Airport to Pasir Ris, five stations, 22 mins
16:18 - 17:44: EWL: Entire East-West Line: Pasir Ris to Tuas Link, 35 stations, 86 mins
17:44 - 18:07: EWL: Tuas Link to Jurong East, nine stations, 23 mins
18:14 - 19:26: NSL: Entire North-South Line: Jurong East to Marina South Pier, 27 stations, 72 mins
19:28 - 19:30: NSL: Marina South Pier to Marina Bay, one station, two mins
19:39 - 19:52: CCL Part 1: Marina Bay to Dhoby Ghaut, five stations, 13 mins
19:56 - 21:01: CCL Part 2: Dhoby Ghaut to HarbourFront, 26 stations, 65 mins
21:05-21:23: Dinner at Kopitiam, VivoCity
21:27 - 22:02: Entire Northeast Line (NEL), HarbourFront to Punggol, 17 stations, 35 mins
22:06 - 22:52: Entire Punggol LRT: 15 stations, 46 mins
22:58 - 23:00: NEL: Punggol to Sengkang, one station, two mins
23:03 - 23:44: Entire Sengkang LRT, 14 stations, 41 mins
LaVigne, who has been living and working in Singapore for 16 years, told Mothership that he enjoys train rides, including those on the subway and high speed trains.
"I find train travel very relaxing, and again you get to see and experience the reality of a country or cities in which you live...Of course, train travel also helps significantly on the environment, mitigating NOx, SOx, and other pollutants emitted by cars on the roads."
This was actually the first time he attempted something like this, and it was borne out of a curiosity to "understand and compare across the different lines, types of trains being used, station architecture, etc".
Putting together his plan was fairly quick. LaVigne took just one hour on Saturday night to plan an efficient route with minimal overlaps. His schedule was so tight that he was supposed to catch the last train on the North East Line to Serangoon before transferring to the Circle Line back to Bishan where he lives.
However, his unfamiliarity with the Punggol LRT system led to him taking the Eastern loop twice. It took up precious travelling time, resulting in Lavigne missing the last North East Line train after he was done with the Sengkang LRT.
LaVigne is indeed a rail fan (pun intended, of course) having ridden the MTR in Hong Kong, the KTX and SRT bullet trains in South Korea and the subway in Pyongyang. In fact, the Thomson-East Coast Line stations, which are very deep underground, reminded him of the Pyongyang Metro which he visited in 2005.
"Pyongyang’s subway system is dug at a depth of 110 metres and is intended for use as a bomb shelter (presumably also in case of a nuclear attack)."
His favourite MRT line is the Circle Line because of its architecture, bright colours, and artwork. "I have to stop and spend a few minutes just admiring the architecture and artistic design when I am in some of those stations."
In particular, LaVigne enjoys “Dreams in Social Cosmic Odyssey” at Promenade station and “The Amazing Neverending Underwater Adventures!” at Bras Basah station.
"They remind me very much of the spectacular décor and displays I have seen in metro/subway stations in places like Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan)," he said.
LaVigne opined that in today's highly-stressed society, incorporating art and aesthetic quality in station designs can brighten people's days and give commuters a new perspective.
To LaVigne, Singapore has made "amazing strides" over the years to create a "robust and comprehensive" rail network.
"I have seen some of the projected maps online of what the MRT/LRT network will look like by 2030, and it is really amazing. For a small country like Singapore where it would be problematic for everyone to have his/her own car (i.e., total gridlock on the roads), having a well-planned and extensive public transport network (MRT, LRT, buses) is critical."
He also has praises for the train frequency and the well-maintained system ("I have lived in places where the off-peak train intervals were 15 to 20 minutes!")
One suggestion that LaVigne has for Singapore's public transport system is this: Make the LRT experience more user-friendly for people who don't live in those towns.
This would include having more clear and instructive signage at the stations, helping new users understand how the LRTs work, and displaying LRT routes more prominently in the LRT trains.
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Top images: LTA, Dom LaVigne.