I emailed LTA the following on the 16th of November this year
I took the North South Line today and noticed the bilingual announcements made in English as well as Mandarin each time the train approached a station. I would like to question the rationale for this change.
Who are the targeted commuters of this new change? As far as I know, Singapore's main education and working medium is in English, and primary education is compulsory, therefore it is impossible that locals do not understand the simple English announcements that has been used since the day our trains start operating.
If the targeted commuters are the older generation of locals who may not understand English, why was this change not done earlier? It it impossible that they lose their grasp of English as they grow older. It is also impossible that this change was not technologically possible before this.
If the targeted commuters for this change are for the foreign workers and new citizens, are the figures that huge that it warrants this change? In that case, what are the figures like and are their understanding of English that bad that they do not understand simple English, like station names?
Also, why are only the Chinese foreigners and new citizens being accommodated? Why not Telugu or Hindustan to accommodate those from India as well as Vietnamese, Tagalog and Thai?
Appreciate a response.
And this is their reply, 11 days later.
Our Ref : LTA/VTL/PTR/TR/F20.000.000/4139
Date : 26-NOV-2012
Tel : 6553 5955
Fax : 6553 5279
FEEDBACK NUMBER: 20121116-0348
We refer to your email of 16 November 2012.
We will like to share that the move to have the names of stations announced in Mandarin is part of a trial by SMRT which was implemented recently. As they have regularly received public feedback and suggestions to announce station names in Mandarin, they decided to adopt commuters' recommendations as it is a service improvement that would benefit passengers who rely on announcements during their journey.
SMRT have taken into consideration the request for the announcement of station names to be in the four official languages of Singapore, namely, English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. During their review, they found that the pronunciation for most station names, with the exception of Mandarin, sound similar when pronounced in English, Malay or Tamil.
We acknowledge the concern for announcements to be made in multiple languages and we will keep this in mind during future review.
WONG HSIEN HAN
ASST MGR, MAINTENANCE