|The Merlion of Singapore|
What was different? No food wrappers dropped on the floor, no graffiti inside or out, no vending machines selling snacks or drinks, no people snacking as they commuted.
Most surprising? There was no one (almost) was reading. Only once during a week’s worth of riding did I even see someone scanning a newspaper. No books, magazines, no Kindles. No ear buds peeking out suggesting an I-Pod in use. Looking around there were just lots of people sitting or standing going along to their destinations.
The quiet, orderly ride contrasted sharply with the rush to get into the car. The doors open and people charge ahead to get on as people are getting off. “Everyone in Singapore wants to be first all the time.” That was the comment of an American working there and, judging by the actions of the commuters, he may be right. The MRT thinks it’s enough of a problem that they regularly make announcements encouraging people to be more polite. To let people off the train before they enter, to give their seats to elderly riders or pregnant women.
Keeping the subways system clean isn’t a problem. Stopping the rush on and off, getting people to be polite – that’s still a challenge and one that isn’t unique to Singapore.