Grassroots volunteers to help crowds at large-scale MRT breakdowns
Grassroots volunteers will be roped in to manage crowds during unexpected large-scale MRT breakdowns in future.
In a first here, the People's Association (PA) is tapping on volunteers from its 1,800strong Community Emergency Response Team (Cert) to help transport operators during unexpected major rail disruptions and station closures.
About 100 volunteers helped out on each of the two days of planned closures of some East-West Line stations on Jan 21 and 28, The Straits Times has learnt.
Currently, when a breakdown occurs, rail operators and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) follow a rail incident management plan, with staff from both sides deployed.
Officers wearing the security uniforms of Certis Cisco and Horus Security Consultancy were also seen helping out.
"However, there cannot be enough 'paid staff' to manage large crowds affected by an unplanned major disruption, especially in the initial period," said a PA spokesman.
"We believe that instead of bemoaning the situation, it would be more positive and constructive for us to do what we can to help people. We do not intend to, nor can we, replace SMRT's mitigation measures."
The PA spokesman said volunteers had expressed concern that their friends and neighbours might not have heard about the planned closures on the East-West Line and felt they could do their part to help guide affected commuters.
Cert volunteers were previously deployed to help manage crowds at National Day parades, Formula One races and Chingay parades.
On Sunday, they were seen directing crowds to shuttle buses and alternative modes of transport at the MRT stations from Pasir Ris to Aljunied, alongside LTA officers and SMRT staff.
The move follows a 2015 blog post by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who wrote about the need to inculcate a "kampung spirit" to respond to rail breakdowns.
The Straits Times understands that some grassroots leaders have questioned if the use of Cert volunteers is the best use of resources.
But transport analysts hailed the move as a positive one.
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