Photographer Shows How it Feels to Ride in Singapore's Crowded Trains

transit photosSince 2011, photographer Edwin Koo has been taking photos of passengers on Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) to “paint a collective portrait of society”

In particular, he “captures the everyday theatre that happens in front of train doors” where people are “forced to the edge” because of overcrowded train coaches. There are about 2.8 million MRT passengers and many of them have been demanding the government improve the efficiency of the train service.

I photographed people who were forced to the edge of the train doors to show how dire the situation was. These photographs were born from a sense of frustration and alienation.

The crowded trains presented an ever-changing theatre each time the doors opened and closed, revealing interesting protagonists, diverse lives and a myriad of emotions. The camera gave me a chance to see what my eye would have missed – a collective portrait of Singapore, always in transit.

Edwin explains why he took photos of strangers and asks his fellow commuters for understanding:

This is the nature of the project: candid, transient, no encore, no recourse – until now. All the photographs made are, in one way or another, you and me. We are all commuters, all 2.8 million of us.

…the photos of Transit are not acts of self-gratification, not weapons of malice, and definitely not tools of instantaneous incrimination. They are a collective portrait of the society that we live in today.

Below are some photos which Edwin uploaded on Facebook:

singapore train

transit singapore


transit photo

commuter train

Edwin’s photos will be compiled in a book called Transit which will be launched this week. He assures his readers that he will not be making a profit from the book.

All photos from Transit, used with permission. Some photos may be removed if requested by an MRT commuter.


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