The MRT door scrum

Just thought I’ll do another Singapore-related (commuting) post before leaving for Japan tonight.

Following the earlier post on being a seat samaritan, the natural follow-up was to comment on people rushing in when the train doors open, without allowing passengers to first alight. This was inspired particularly upon reading a fellow NIEer’s post, which I’d found rather amusing.

A “clear your table” campaign won’t do no nothing in making us a more gracious society…sometimes a more hard-handed approach is needed, and here are some helpful suggestions:

1. Create MRT doors that swing outwards. This will clear the way for outgoing train commuters.

Oh, so true! In a rational world, those waiting at the platforms would wait for the alighting passengers to get off the train first, so that there would be less obstruction when they themselves enter the train, and overall efficiency is improved. The time saving per stop might be minuscule, but it kinda adds up on long journeys, plus it’s only the polite thing to do!

In the real world, though, everybody is a selfish b@%!@#d who’s primarily concerned with securing a seat for themselves. So instead of patiently waiting for people to get out, people tend to rush onto the train as soon as physically possible, often camping in front of the doors and blocking the exit route before the train arrives. The typical view from the eyes of an alighting passenger might look something like this.

I was getting really annoyed with all this recently, since I actually like to stand at the side of the doors and attempt to be a rational human being who waits for people to get off before getting on. The problem with this strategy is that you lose out when nobody else plays by these rules (I’m sure there’s an economics lesson hiding in all this), because the only reward for stupidly waiting outside the train is the joy of witnessing your ruder fellow passengers secure a rest spot for their fannies.

So one fine day I decided to punish these evil-doers with my very own brand of vigilante justice. When I alighted at Boon Lay MRT station (a hotspot for MRT door scrums), I would do my utmost to make life difficult for these door-scrummers. I would claim my God-given (hyperbole intended) right to exit the train unobstructed, and callously push aside all who opposed me.

In other words, I would walk out those doors forcefully. Hey, I never promised a particularly awe-inspiring brand of vigilante justice.

All plans were brought to a halt, however, when the train doors opened the fateful day to reveal, right in my path, a frail-looking but decidedly sprightly elderly lady aggressively pushing her way onto the train. I was all prepared to get a little roughed up while alighting the train, but somehow that was something I was totally not prepared for. Needless to say, my scheme for vengeance never did quite take off.

I think I’ve given up on Singaporeans ever waiting to get onto the train in an orderly manner. So I’ve decided – if you can’t beat them, join them!

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Posted on November 28, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Is this a chinese thing or asian thing? I could never reach the cash counter in china when no one actually stands behind the line…

  2. haha. like the photoshop work. i think this mrt game is a lose-lose situation. i do find that people let those on the train alight first. but the problem is that those people alighting take their own sweet time to do so (less sense of urgency because their path is unobstructed maybe? dunno) such that all of us graciously waiting outside really have to rush to cram in before the doors close after them!

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