February 6, 2009 Friday

Western suburb gets a rail boost

Retail-transport hub for Boon Lay, two new MRT stations after that

By Maria Almenoar

TRANSPORT-WISE, things are looking up for residents in the western suburb of Boon Lay.

By the end of this month, the Boon Lay MRT station will no longer be the last one on the East-West line when two new stations farther west, Pioneer and Joo Koon, open.

And by the third quarter of the year, a retail and transport hub will open next to the Boon Lay station. The complex will house the bus interchange, along with shops - all cocooned in air-conditioned comfort.

The two new MRT stations in the west beyond Boon Lay will serve close to 35,000 people living in Jurong West or working in the Jurong Industrial Estate.

Without these two stations, residents and workers have been alighting at the Boon Lay station and then cycling, walking or taking one of the 10 feeder buses from the Boon Lay bus interchange to their final destinations.

The new stations will save them that second leg of their trip home or to work, shaving up to 15 minutes of travelling time.

Residents in the area have long complained about how long it takes them to go downtown, because they need to get to the Boon Lay station first.

Madam Maureen Ng, 50, who lives in Jurong West Street 61, takes almost an hour to get to the city to do her shopping.

With Pioneer station right next to her block, she now has a direct route downtown. This saves her the 10- to 15-minute hike to Boon Lay station.

Mr Cedric Foo, an MP for West Coast GRC, said the new stations will also reduce congestion at Boon Lay station, where those heading to Tuas usually alight to make transfers. These commuters can now choose to get off at Joo Koon station.

He noted that buses ferrying workers from Tuas to Boon Lay interchange have been stopping indiscriminately along the road, causing peak-hour traffic jams.

'I hope this will be a thing of the past,' he said.

At the upcoming integrated Boon Lay Hub, which will be like those in Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang, the new bus interchange will be part of the Jurong Point 2 shopping mall.

Its concourse will lead directly to the shops.

Madam Jamiah Maarof, 50, is glad that the currently 'hot and dirty' bus interchange will be gone.

'With air-con, it will be easier to wait for the bus,' said the housewife, who has lived in Boon Lay for 20 years.

Blueprints for integrated hubs have also been drawn up for Clementi, Bedok, Jurong East, Serangoon, Joo Koon and Marina South.

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