Buangkok MRT station
Platform of Buangkok MRT station.
|Location||10 Sengkang Central
|Operated by||SBS Transit (ComfortDelGro)|
|Opened||15 January 2006|
Buangkok MRT station (NE15) is an underground Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station on the North East Line in Sengkang, Singapore. Located along Sengkang Central, Buangkok station is one of the two MRT stations located within Sengkang planning area and provides MRT access to the residential estates in the southern part of Sengkang New Town.
There are plans to build an "integrated development" next to Buangkok station, which will include residential units, commercial spaces and a future bus interchange.
When the North East Line opened, it was one of the 2 completed MRT stations in the entire system that was non-operational, the other being Woodleigh which opened in mid-2011. Buangkok was originally planned to be opened with 15 other stations on the North East Line. However, a few days before the opening, the operator SBS Transit decided not to open the station as the area around the station was relatively undeveloped and the company claimed that the number of passengers would be too low to cover operating costs. The opening date of the station was 15 January 2006. The station was well maintained like any other station throughout the time before it was opened. To prepare for the station's opening, the programming had to be updated to include Buangkok. Residents had said they would be willing to walk 400 metres to the station every day.
The station opened with much fanfare on 15 January 2006. SBS Transit had expected around 3,500 commuters using the station daily, which would be the lowest among all the stations along the line, resulting in the station making a loss.
Even so, ridership on this station was much lower than expected on its opening week. It had an average of only 1,386 passenger trips per day. As a comparison, Clarke Quay station, the next lowest in terms of ridership, had already more than 6,000 commuter trips per day. However, Clarke Quay was located in the Central Business District with considerable development in the area. This was because the station was located over 400 metres from most residents' homes.
Cash top ups are not accepted at the passenger service centres from 5 January 2018 at this station.
First white elephant incident
On 27 August 2005, during Minister Vivian Balakrishnan's visit to Punggol South, a resident, displeased with Buangkok's disuse, erected a series of white paper cut-outs of elephants, which were drawn in a cartoon-like style, symbolically calling the unopened Buangkok station a 'white elephant'. Soon after, police started an investigation on it as a case of a public display without permit, on the grounds that a complaint was received and that they may have been in violation of the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act, for which the maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $10,000. It raised controversy because many people saw it as a harmless, trivial case not worthy of investigation. It also highlighted the general displeasure over the non-operation of the MRT station after it was built with public funds. It also raised questions on how much freedom of expression the government is willing to tolerate. A month later, police closed the investigation without pressing charges but issued a stern warning to the offender. This led Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng to comment to the media, "We cannot apply the law to some and turn a blind eye to others. If we do, then the law becomes the real white elephant."
Second white elephant incident
On 13 January 2006, during a carnival celebrating the opening of the MRT Station, some 27 students from Raffles Girls' School were preparing to sell T-shirts bearing "Save the White Elephants" to raise funds for a charity Youth Guidance. This prompted a warning from the police that they needed a fund-raising permit and that "wearing of T-shirts en masse may be misconstrued by some as an offence under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public & Order & Nuisance) (Assemblies & Processions) Rules." 
The girls said that they had always taken a strong interest in current affairs and Buangkok incident inspired them to start what they called "Project White Elephant" aiming to "galvanise the youth of today to rise up from the apathy they are stereotyped with and take an active role in airing their views". Punggol South grassroots leaders were impressed by their "entrepreneurial spirit and derring-do", and invited them to set up a stall at the opening ceremony of the station to sell the T-shirts.
On 21 January 2006, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng apologised for the way the police had overreacted to the group of school girls' plan to sell and wear white elephant T-shirts at the opening of Buangkok station.
On the morning of July 29, 2016, there was a train fault at this station, delaying train services between Punggol and Potong Pasir stations in the middle of the morning rush hour.
- "Residents willing to walk over 400 metres to Buangkok station: survey". Channel NewsAsia. 2005-07-27.
- Min Zhang, Lim (31 August 2017). "11 train stations will no longer accept cash-top ups at counters from Sept 1". The Straits Times.
- "Residents bring up 'white elephant' Buangkok MRT during minister's visit". Channel NewsAsia. 2005-08-28.
- "Teens' white elephant T-shirt venture gets police attention". Today (Singapore newspaper). 2006-01-14. Archived from the original on 2006-01-16.
- "Police overreacted to white elephant T-shirt incident: DPM Wong". Channel NewsAsia. 2006-01-21.
- "Delay on North East Line on Friday morning due to train fault at Buangkok station". The Straits Times (Delay on North East Line). The Straits Times. SPH Websites. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
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