SINGAPORE — SMRT’s perch seats in some of its trains are getting online users to debate on their usefulness.
Viral news aggregator “sgfollowsall” posted on Instagram a picture of the design on Wednesday (Dec 13), showing a perch “seat” installed at the hip level to support standing passengers.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said that the perch seats would be installed on newer trains that were introduced in June this year on the North-South Line and East-West Line of the MRT network.
In the picture captions, “sgfollowsall” shared the views of a disgruntled user who had called the design “useless” because only two passengers could use the seat and that having two regular seats would have been a more effective use of space.
“We have an ageing population and need more chairs for our old to sit, not stand,” the person wrote.
The Instagram post received close to 7,000 likes and more than 160 comments within two days.
One online users agreed, saying: “Everyone is a paying customer. Seats are always first-come-first-serve basis. Bring back the initial seats. Not standing seats.”
A third comment went: “It’s by a designer who wanted to change things but didn’t really think if it was worth fixing something that isn’t broken.”
However, the majority of comments supported the design, reasoning that it is to accommodate crowds during peak periods, as well as wheelchairs and prams.
An Instagram user said: “To the person who wrote this, less seats is better, especially (during) peak hours since it’s more standing space.”
Another remarked: “I don’t know whether you take the North-South Line and East-West Line during peak hours, every single train I get after 7am is super packed.”
Some others deduced that the perch seat is an addition to the space on trains usually reserved for wheelchair and pram users.
One wrote: “SMRT has made some bad design decisions over the years, especially on station seats. But this is not one of them… This panel helps improve the standing/leaning (angle) and it’s also useful for the wheelchair users to hold on (to it).”
Another pointed out: “This is useful to parents who are carrying a toddler.”
One online user also said: “Someone needs to tell this guy that SMRT doesn’t design the train itself, they’re all bought overseas from a supplier.”
The new six-carriage trains from French train maker Alstom were designed with more open spaces to accommodate wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers, LTA has said. Ergonomic perch seats are also designed to accommodate more commuters.
The ergonomic perch seats were first introduced when SMRT opened the Downtown Line in 2013.
The new trains have LCD display systems above every door for route and station information, as well as large panoramic windows for a better view when travelling above ground.
The 106 trains — designed in Germany and manufactured in Changchun, China — were purchased in a S$1.2 billion deal in 2018 and in another S$337.8 million deal in 2020.
This is not the first time that online users have griped about “bad” designs for MRT trains or stations.
Last year, foldable “tip-up” seats on MRT trains was a hot topic among users who deemed it as “bad design”. The two- or three-seater can be folded up during peak hours to provide more standing room.
A common concern was that the foldable seats might not be used as intended, with most passengers opting to sit rather than stand.