SMRT ends trial on station announcements in Mandarin

This file photo shows commuters on an SMRT train arriving at Bishan train station interchange in Singapore, in April. Singapore's first strike in 26 years petered out with most of the Chinese bus drivers who had stopped working to demand higher pay reporting for duty

SMRT has scrapped a controversial three-month trial on MRT station announcements in Mandarin.

In a statement obtained by Yahoo! Singapore on Sunday, an SMRT spokesperson said it had started the trial after receiving considerable public feedback that the train operator should announce station names in Mandarin to assist passengers, especially older commuters, who rely on announcements during their journey.

It started the trial with in-train Mandarin announcements of the station names on some trains on North-South East-West lines from the first week of October.

But it said while some "have welcomed the move, others have provided various feedback and suggestions".

The spokesperson added that the trial has concluded and it will be "deliberating over its value and appropriateness".

The trial attracted widespread criticism online by those who felt SMRT should have made the announcements in Malay and Tamil as well.

Other that were more cynical said SMRT was doing it to cater to the growing number of arrivals from mainland China.

SMRT had earlier defended the move to include only Mandarin announcements by explaining that many of the station names in Malay or Tamil sounded similar to English.

Nuraisha Ramlan, 28, marketing executive, told Yahoo! Singapore, "Singapore is a multi-cultural country and I did not feel it was fair or necessary to do Chinese translations. All my Chinese friends know the stations by their standard English names - it's good that SMRT is scrapping this."

Retiree Sally Ong, 69, also applauded SMRT's efforts but said the announcements in Mandarin were not necessary.

"I think if the idea behind the Chinese translation is to help the Chinese elderly hear better when we reach our station, its okay. But after so many years of taking the train, we already know all the station names, so, no need," she said in Mandarin.
32-year-old accountant Yeo Ming Jie,  also said the trial was "pointless".

"SMRT says its trying to improve our travel experience by doing this - I think that's pointless. I hope they can focus their resources on preventing train delays and breakdowns instead - I'm pretty sure more Singaporeans would appreciate that better," he said.

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