By Verena Lim
Several transport experts are calling for the authorities to step in to ensure the safety of commuters, after yet another person became trapped in the gap between an MRT platform and a train on Wednesday.
Mr Gan Thiam Poh, a committee member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport, said that transport operators should find ways to narrow the gap, which varies between stations, from 7cm to 10cm.
"There are hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. And even if one incident like this happens, the operator should look into how it can fix the problem," Mr Gan told my paper.
The latest incident involved a male passenger who slipped knee-deep into the platform gap while alighting from an east-bound train at Raffles Place MRT station at about 4pm. An SMRT staff member freed the man's leg with the help of another passenger.
An SMRT spokesman said that the man declined medical assistance and continued on his journey after a short rest.
The incident comes two weeks after a young woman, believed to be a Vietnamese national, was trapped in the gap at Bugis Station. She was eventually released unhurt. The latest is the third such incident since October last year.
An SMRT spokesman said that the gap in underground stations is about 10cm, and "is one of the narrowest possible without comprising safety".
These platform gaps are to accommodate the train's movement as it "sways slightly when in motion".
If the width is decreased, the train will "infringe on the the platform edge", added the spokesman.
SMRT said that it makes announcements, and has notices pasted on train doors and platform screen doors to remind passengers to be mindful of the platform gaps.
Another committee member of the GPC for Transport, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, said: "SMRT should investigate whether it was a problem of the commuter not paying attention or a technical problem."
A short-term solution may be to "deploy SMRT staff around the platform to constantly tell people to be careful". But this, he added, may be a costly and labour-intensive measure.
Undergraduate Terence Tan, 24, said: "Perhaps transport operators could try to bridge the gap with safety barriers that will not interfere with the train."
Secretary Caryn See, 43, who commutes on the East-West Line to work every day, said: "One or two accidents do not justify changing the whole MRT system. It is the passenger's personal responsibility to ensure his own safety."
SMRT urges passengers who witness similar incidents to activate the emergency-communications button within the train or the emergency-stop plunger at station platforms so that help can be rendered quickly.
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