Commuters want more accessible, comfortable rides: PTC

ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN, MARCUS TAN
ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN, MARCUS TAN
ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN, MARCUS TAN

LTA will strive to implement transport council report's recommendations: Khaw

After taking on board the views of hundreds of commuters, the Public Transport Council (PTC) has released a raft of recommendations to make rides more comfortable and less daunting for everyone, including families, seniors and wheelchair users.

To address overcrowding in front sections of buses, the PTC has suggested designing the vehicles in a way that would encourage commuters to move to the back. It has also proposed reducing escalator speeds at train stations to make them safer for seniors.

The recommendations were distilled after a six-month public consultation which began in December last year. It involved seeking the views of over 2,500 commuters via in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and face-to-face surveys.

The results of the exercise, submitted last week to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, were made public yesterday.

Some of the biggest concerns of commuters include crowding on public transport and stations, issues of reliability, and ease of access for families and those with disabilities.

PTC chairman Richard Magnus said the inaugural report gives a baseline for the authorities to study how the public transport system can be improved.

  • KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

    1 ALLOW OPEN STROLLERS ON BUSES 

    The Land Transport Authority should review its policy and allow open strollers on buses. These have to be folded at the moment. But priority should still be given to wheelchair users.

    2 TRAIN TAXI DRIVERS TO SERVE WHEELCHAIR USERS

    Provide cab drivers with training to deal with those with disabilities, so they can help wheelchair users with tasks such as moving from wheelchair to taxi.

    3 REDUCE ESCALATOR SPEEDS

    Some senior citizens can be intimidated by fast-moving escalators at MRT stations. These can be slowed down to give seniors peace of mind. They can also be encouraged to use lifts.

    4 MORE COMMUTER-FRIENDLY BUS STOPS

    Bus stops can be designed with high overhanging ceilings, so commuters can board or alight from buses in the rain without getting wet. Seats can be designed to be wider and flatter to be more comfortable.

    5 BUSES THAT ENCOURAGE COMMUTERS TO MOVE BACK

    Buses should be designed with a third door, to serve as a second exit, to encourage commuters to move to the rear and allow others to board.

    6 RE-ENTRY GRACE PERIOD FOR URGENT TOILET USE

    Allow seniors, children and adults with medical problems to exit and re-enter MRT stations without paying fares if they need to use the toilet urgently.

"This is the first time after a face-to-face survey... that we are able to say quite factually that this is what commuters are actually looking at, and what they are concerned with," said Mr Magnus.

The report is the first since the PTC took on the role of adviser to the Transport Minister in January.

While the council maintains its primary role of regulating fares, it was also tasked then with making recommendations on how to improve public transport.

In its report, the council made several recommendations, such as allowing open strollers on buses which will make it easier for families with small children to travel. At the moment, parents have to fold up strollers when they board buses.

Other ideas include designing bus stops with more comfortable seats and more space so commuters find it easier to navigate during rush hour.

The full report is available online on the PTC website.

Responding to the report's recommendations, Mr Khaw said Singapore needed to make its transport system friendlier to seniors and young children, as the population ages and the Government tries to boost the birth rate.

"From a transport perspective, this means we will continue instilling a philosophy of making sure our seniors and disabled are able to use the transport network with confidence, while at the same time we embrace the needs of young families in their daily journeys," he said. He added that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) would study the report and "strive to put into practice the many useful recommendations".

The LTA said it would issue a response to the report in the next few months.

SIM University senior lecturer Park Byung Joon said that as public transport assets and facilities - such as buses and, soon, also trains - belong to the LTA, it would be easier for it to push through changes.

"Now it will be all up to the LTA, what they want to do with it," said Dr Park.

Mr Magnus also said yesterday that most of the consumer concerns in the report might appear small, but are significant if taken collectively and viewed in the context of the 7.9 million daily passenger trips.

"The recommendations can truly make a difference to commuters' journeys if the relevant stakeholders consider them for implementation," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline 'Commuters want more accessible, comfortable rides: PTC'. Print Edition | Subscribe