LTA survey findings on MRT commuter graciousness greeted with scepticism

Surveyors interviewed commuters aged 15 and above at bus interchanges and MRT stations islandwide in June and last month. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING  
Surveyors interviewed commuters aged 15 and above at bus interchanges and MRT stations islandwide in June and last month. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING  

When it comes to graciousness in public transport, most would agree that there is plenty of room for improvement.

Hence, the results of a recent survey by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have raised some eyebrows.

In a poll of 1,000 commuters, 94 per cent said they give up their seats to those who need them more, while 98 per cent said they queue up and give way to alighting passengers.

In addition, 96 per cent said they move in for others to board the trains.

These three questions that required only a "yes" or "no" answer were part of a larger survey that the LTA conducted to gather feedback on its annual graciousness campaign.

Surveyors interviewed commuters aged 15 and above at bus interchanges and MRT stations islandwide in June and last month.

Are local commuters really that gracious?

Some say the real situation in trains and buses is less rosy, and question if there is a disconnect between what the respondents said and actually do.

Polytechnic student Chan Xiang Yi, 18, said he does see people giving up their seats, but noted that it is more prevalent for those sitting in the reserved seats.

"Those in the normal seats won't give up their seats that easily," he said.

Public Transport Council chairman Gerard Ee said there are improvements in gracious behaviour, but also a lot of examples of people not doing the right thing.

He noted that there are growing numbers of commuters who queue up, but the lines often disintegrate at the last moment when people lose patience or worry about missing the train, and thus rush in.

"Courtesy is a two-way traffic. It would go a long way if people alighting from buses and trains do so quickly and with a purpose," he said.

Online, several netizens expressed scepticism about the poll. Said netizen Steven Koh: "Please tell the 94 per cent action speaks louder than words!"

However, netizen Leonard Chew said he has seen gracious acts by some commuters, which he found heart-warming.

He noted that selection bias is hard to avoid in surveys - for instance, less gracious commuters might not bother participating.

Singapore Kindness Movement general secretary William Wan agreed that behaviour on public transport can be improved.

However, he feels the survey findings are "probably correct".

Ungracious behaviour tends to get a lot more exposure, especially on social media, said Dr Wan.

This forms an impression that commuters aren't as gracious as they are, he added.

"Out of the millions who travel every day, many people give up their seats and move to the centre but no one says anything."

From today, the LTA will put up a series of posters and stickers islandwide incorporating the survey results - such as the percentage of commuters who said they would give up their seats - to highlight and promote positive behaviour.

To foster graciousness, the LTA has also turned to social media, put up YouTube videos and launched a Facebook app for commuters to share positive public transport experiences.

roysim@sph.com.sg

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