The Convert, A Public Story On The Move

Singapore’s public transportation – a system that I used to associate with unreliability and inaccessibility.

Before my accident, I had traveled often on my ever-reliable motorcycle for 6 years whilst occasionally revisiting the Singapore public transportation system. Riding the motorcycle and traveling on the public transportation has it’s pros and cons.

Whilst riding the motorcycle ensured that I’d be able to travel and arrive at my destinations punctually at much shorter times with minimal hassle, I’m at the mercy of the ever-changing weather and at times, find myself turning around looking for a parking lot. In such space constraint Singapore, parking lots for motorcycles may be plenty but it’s certainly not enough with the government’s policy to increase population through migration and work and also the rising affluence and affordability of bikes. The ever-changing erratic weather conditions also mean that you may be dry when you leave home but wet in the next 5 minutes.

No rider should ever complaint about the weather but the need to change into the full rain gear takes time and also poses a fatal risk to the rider, especially when changing under flyovers in torrential rain because there has been a time when a van decided to follow me blindly into the flyover and braked just in time to realise that it wasn’t what he/she thought it was.

Besides the obvious risk of fatality on the roads through accidents, maintaining the motorcycle is also cumbersome for someone like me who’s only interested to ride. I have no interest whatsover to send it for repairs or maintenance unless absolutely necessary and therefore increases my risk of an accident. I have though, religiously sent my motorcycle for regular maintenance.

And the last issue with owning a motorcycle is the fact that you’re faced with monthly parking fees, summons when you least expect it, yearly road tax and insurance as well as the unexpected repairs of fixtures incurred through accidents or the need to improve the aesthetics of your daily ride – all to be paid and incurred regardless whether you ride everyday or not.

That’s life for me as rider and owner of a motorcycle.

What’s life like then as a public transport commuter?

Some of the best things I’ve liked since getting into an accident and turning into a public transport commuter is how convenient my journeys can be in mostly well-maintained air-conditioned facilities. I no longer have to worry about changing into rain gear. I only worry about the perspiration from the lack of air-conditioning and whether or not I brought a brolly in case it rains at my destination. I also enjoy how I get to people watch and observe the quirks of the human body and be amazed at it. This of course tremendously helps me recreate situations in my drama classes because it’s real and I can recreate it from memory, not imagination. There are also occasions that I do get to see more than what I bargained for too!

The timing intervals for public transport and accessibility to more than just one service has also made traveling more convenient and planning my journeys are a lot smoother with assurance that I would require at most a buffer of 20 minutes for minor and unexpected hiccups. I only need to ensure that I have sufficient value in my EZ-link card at all times so that my journey is smooth.

However, this is speaking from the experience of traveling during non-peak hours. Traveling during peak hours is a totally different affair. Other than the expected crowded trains and buses with commuters rushing to work, the stench of commuters who have utterly or little personal hygiene is extremely disconcerting. To add to that, quite a number of commuters are also highly impatient and despite the relentless campaigns to educate commuters to allow passengers to alight first before entering, I still see individuals pushing their way through the alighting passengers the moment the doors open in an attempt to locate a seat. This attitude abhors me. It speaks a lot about the type of society we live in.

Thankfully, it’s only a minority that has this attitude but this could snowball as others who may have converted their ways may reconvert because it’s a race and those who win, secures a seat for their journey.

Now, on a totally different note, even with the efficiency of Singapore’s much internationally admired public transportation system, I’m still appalled at how some Singaporeans can still be habitually an hour late for appointments.

It’s no longer the brunt of public transportation to bear but the individual’s inability to manage time efficiently. And I really wonder what kind of planning systems run inside their heads that they still can’t make it on time, EVER.

If you’re one of them, hey man, here’s a tip!

Use Google Map to search for directions on the different options available to reach your destination! They may not be that accurate but they surely do give you a good gauge based on the time you’re expecting to travel and please, make that search the night before so that you can plan your entire day ahead.

It worked for me!

I’m pretty sure it could work for you as well!

Or maybe I’m just not accustomed to the Singapore’s fashionably late culture having immersed myself in the Japanese and Chinese punctual or early culture. Regardless, I’m just thankful we’re not in the Arabian penisular!

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