Charge cellphone for free at 4 MRT stations

Charge cellphone for free at 4 MRT stations
CONVENIENT SERVICE: The new charging point at City Hall MRT station lets commuters charge their smartphones and laptops.

Commuters will be able to charge their electronic devices at four MRT stations in the coming weeks, as part of a trial by SMRT.

The transport operator installed a charging point at City Hall station last week, and will outfit Orchard, Tanjong Pagar and Kent Ridge stations with similar power points over the next few weeks.

SMRT vice-president for corporate information and communication Patrick Nathan said it will gather feedback and suggestions through a survey before deciding whether to extend the service to more MRT stations on its rail network.

He said the new service is one of several initiatives that SMRT is rolling out to "enhance travel experience, at no additional cost to our commuters".

Each charging point has three low-voltage charging outlets. Of these, two have USB ports. The Taipei Metro offers similar charging points at its stations.

Charging points became a point of controversy early this year after a student was fined $400 for using an electrical socket at an MRT station to charge her mobile phone.

Commuters such as relationship manager Wilfred Lim welcomed the move to provide power points for free. "It's a good idea, especially when you are expecting an urgent call and your handphone battery is low," he said.

The 29-year-old added that the charging points should be installed at more locations, including major interchange stations such as Paya Lebar and Jurong East.

Mr Zack Kua, however, thinks the charging points might turn out to be "white elephants".

The 29-year-old bank executive said he doubts that commuters will stay at the charging point and wait for their devices to be charged, especially since power banks are becoming increasingly common and affordable.

It is more important for SMRT to tackle the issue of overcrowding on trains, he added.

SMRT was earlier this week hit with a $1.6 million fine over four train service disruptions.

Mr Nathan yesterday gave the reassurance that SMRT remains focused on providing reliable service even as it rolls out such initiatives.

This article was first published on July 24, 2014.
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