This morning, MRT-taking Singaporeans were once again greeted with the news that 2 lines – North-South and East-West – were hit with power and track circuit faults.
First reported at 7.26am, SMRT announced 4 hours later that it had to shut services between Queenstown and Bugis stations to “remove the loose panel causing power trips on the network”.
A few hours ago, Queenstown station was also seen to be packed with commuters.
Of course, track and power circuit faults are something out of our control, but what if there was a way that we could avoid about them even before official reports?
22-year-old Marcus Koh, known as chihao711 on Reddit decided that it was time to use his bot-building skills for the greater good, and has created a Telegram bot so that commuters can know, first-hand, whenever an MRT breakdown happens.
Initially Created For Personal Use
3 days ago, Marcus took to Reddit to publicise his Telegram bot, the very functionally-named SG MRT, which would inform users whenever there was a breakdown/disruption, and also the arrival timing of trains at various stations.
Holding a Computer Engineering diploma and set to go to NUS to study Computer Science soon, Marcus created the bot a few months ago, initially just for personal use “because [he] wasn’t sure that the general public wanted it”.
Then, it was also only built to tell when the next train was arriving.
However, it was after he realised the increasing frequency of train disruptions that he decided to bring his little project even further – by having it notify him whenever there was a disruption.
“[With it], I could totally avoid taking train that day and just Uber home. I wanted a bot that was proactive, and it should always tell you if there is a MRT disruption.”
Currently an NSF, Marcus knows very well the importance of time, and this further spurred him on to create a solution for those like himself.
“Can you imagine if I book out on a Friday and just to find out that the train broke down. It would waste my time traveling.”
“Time is precious when you are an NSF!”
With his weekdays burnt with his NSF-ly duties, Marcus only had the weekends to embark on his side project – eventually emerging with the bot after a few weeks.
He Learnt How To Built A Bot From Youtube
Pretty impressive for someone who learnt how to build a bot by watching video tutorials.
“I’ve learnt creating bots from YouTube, and YouTube alone. Initially, I was just fascinated that you could write a short script and let the bot do the job for you.”
For now, the bot is only able to pull information for SMRT lines (North-South, East-West, Circle Line), but Marcus is hoping that he can eventually include the Downtown Line and North-East Line to the bot if he manages to get his hands on the data.
When I asked if there were any other that bots that we could look forward to, Marcus reveals that for now, he wants to focus on his MRT bot “so that it becomes great and easy to use”.
“But I will definitely have more bots to come in the future.”
Check out the SG MRT bot here!