Train delay? Commuter support groups relay details and contingencies online
Commuters hit by train failures have united on a Facebook group formed specially for their time of distress.
But this support group, which calls itself a "safety net against MRT train breakdown", is not a place for ranting about train services.
The group, called TATA SMRT (The Alternate Transport Advisory & Spore Magnificent Rescue Team), aims to help commuters make alternative plans during train disruptions with "real time" details of the situation crowdsourced from members of the group.
Members are also encouraged to ask questions, provide suggestions of alternative routes or even carpool in the case of a disruption.
The one-month-old group saw a surge in new members after a delay on the East-West Line last Tuesday morning, which saw large crowds of commuters stuck at train stations in Tampines and Bedok.
On Tuesday, announcements were made at train stations on the East-West Line indicating a 10-minute delay, but this information was not broadcasted on SMRT's social media feeds or the Land Transport Authority's My Transport app.
More than 680 people joined the group over the past week, which now has more than 960 members.
Over the past few days, members have posted photos of crowds at MRT stations as well as possible delays.
Mr Jason Cai, 35, an IT engineer who founded the Facebook group, said there could be possible false alarms, but he thinks that inaccurate information will be corrected by the community.
KEEP IT POSITIVE
He also encourages members of the group to be positive instead of "letting their emotions get the better of them".
One of the group's most active members is tax senior Paul Lee, 38, who regularly replies to posts about public bus options.
Besides TATA, there are at least two online crowdsourcing efforts to deal with train disruptions.
Another Facebook group, MRT Disruption Feed, has more than 8,500 members and collates tweets that mention train disruptions.
Website www.mrtok.com - created by web developer Samuel Liew, 30, in July - collates real-time updates from official sources and social media.
To ensure that the "unofficial" updates are accurate, Mr Liew has been modifying the search query and filter algorithms to select posts that are train delay reports instead of general complaints.
He is also planning to add a profanity filter and blacklist certain social media accounts from displaying on the website.
The Australia-based Singaporean added: "I created mrtok in July when there was a lot of train delays and thought that it would be nice to have timely updates.
"As I am overseas, I wasn't able to know if the MRT was delayed. Therefore I built this site to get updates because I have the expertise to do so... and to allow my friends and family back in Singapore to be notified of train delays."