Commuters with long-term medical conditions can claim card, lanyard to help get a seat on public transport
SINGAPORE: Commuters with long-term medical conditions that prevent them from standing for prolonged periods will soon be able to use an identifier to help them get a seat on buses and trains here.
"From April, commuters with long-term, invisible medical conditions or disabilities can request for a specially-designed card and lanyard at Passenger Service Centres and Offices," said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng, announcing the move on Friday (Mar 5).
The initiative by the Caring SG Commuters Committee is aimed at making it easier for commuters to ask for help, he said.
The committee, formed last year and chaired by Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus, aims to make Singapore's public transport system more caring and inclusive.
In a joint media release by the Public Transport Council (PTC) and Land Transport Authority (LTA), the two agencies said the lanyards will progressively be made available at all MRT stations, bus interchanges and TransitLink ticket offices to those with long-term medical conditions.
"Commuters who require the sticker temporarily may also request for them," they said, adding the lanyards were designed by commuters with disabilities or special needs through an art competition.
Mr Baey noted this comes after a trial by the LTA in October last year, where commuters who needed a seat could alert others with a "May I have a seat please?” sticker.
Separately, Go-Ahead Singapore launched a “Helping Hand” trial, where commuters with mobility needs were provided a card with instructions for bus drivers. Mr Baey said both initiatives received positive feedback.
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Through focus group discussions and surveys, the Caring SG Commuters Committee found people want to help fellow commuters, but were often unsure of how to do so.
"Only about one in four commuters know how to assist commuters with conditions such as hearing and developmental difficulties. I can understand why, because these conditions may not be immediately noticeable," he said.
"We will therefore try to help the public better understand other commuters’ needs. One key initiative is the recruitment of Caring Commuter Champions, trained by SG Enable to support commuters with special needs," he said, adding he hoped more would volunteer for this effort.
Mr Baey also pointed to other efforts to make the transport system safer and more inclusive, such as through the provision of about 1,300 signalised pedestrian crossings with audio-tactile signals to help visually-impaired pedestrians.
READ: Transport Masterplan 2040: 9 recommendations for faster, safer, more inclusive transport system
"We will work with MSF (Ministry of Social and Family Development) to enhance these, such as extending their operating hours," he said.
Enhancements found at stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line - such as bigger signages with better contrast and larger font sizes- will be rolled out to all new stations, he added.
These efforts must however be prioritised, given the high cost of infrastructure improvements, he said, adding that the focus would be on areas near transport nodes for the sake of financial prudence.
Meanwhile the Caring SG Commuters Committee will submit recommendations by the middle of this year on how commuters can help others, said Mr Baey.
Daily commutes are not just about moving people from one point to another, he stressed.
"They are also about sharing and navigating a common space, on public paths or public transport. All of us can make a difference. We will continue to partner the community to achieve our vision of a safe and inclusive transport system for all."