'Face time' barrier to free rides

'Face time' barrier to free rides
Since a scheme offering free train rides was introduced in June, only about 7 per cent of commuters have opted to travel between 7am and 8am, instead of between 8am and 9am. This fell short of the target of 10 to 20 per cent.

SINGAPORE - First in, but very rarely, first out of the office.

Many workers have reasoned that if they have to slog at the office till late in the evening anyway, then why bother showing up early?

This stops them from taking up flexi-work options to enjoy free or cheaper train rides to avoid the morning rush hour.

Many said that, even as the Government extends an experiment to get commuters to shift their travel patterns to the pre-peak period, there still remains a culture of office "face time" which frowns on leaving the workplace early.

Long days, often the norm in certain industries, do not help either.

Since the pilot scheme was introduced in June, only about 7 per cent of commuters have opted to travel between 7am and 8am, instead of the peak hour between 8am and 9am. This fell short of the target of 10 to 20 per cent that the Land Transport Authority was hoping for.

Under the scheme, commuters who exit any of the 18 designated MRT stations in the city area before 7.45am ride for free. Between 7.45am and 8am, they stand to enjoy a discount of up to 50 cents.

Professionals whom My Paper spoke to said that while their firms offered a flexible-work option, taking it up was another issue.

Said one public relations executive, 26, who works near Orchard Road: "Walking out at 5pm when everyone else is still working... People may think I'm not much of a team player. It's about being visible."

Mark Hall, vice-president and country manager of Kelly Services, said many employees are concerned about how senior management may perceive their time out of the office.

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