More help at MRT station for elderly, people with disabilities

Above: Under another new scheme called Heart Wheels, wheelchairs are available at Outram Park station for elderly commuters and those who are disabled to use on the 210m walkway between the East-West and North-East lines. Left: Mr Francis Tay at Outr
Above: Mr Francis Tay at Outram Park station's Heart Zone yesterday with SGH nurse Aslinah Aboobaker, 50, who is a volunteer for the scheme.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Above: Under another new scheme called Heart Wheels, wheelchairs are available at Outram Park station for elderly commuters and those who are disabled to use on the 210m walkway between the East-West and North-East lines. Left: Mr Francis Tay at Outr
Above: Under another new scheme called Heart Wheels, wheelchairs are available at Outram Park station for elderly commuters and those who are disabled to use on the 210m walkway between the East-West and North-East lines.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

Designated areas at Outram Park station where they can wait to get help from people to move around

Elderly and handicapped commuters are likely to get more help getting around when they use the public transport system.

One new scheme aims to set aside designated areas for the elderly and visually disabled commuters at MRT stations, to allow them to get help from members of the public.

Called Heart Zone, the trial for the initiative - which will take place between 7.30am and 9.30am on weekdays - was launched yesterday at Outram Park MRT station by the Public Transport Council (PTC), in a tie-up with the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and rail operators SBS Transit and SMRT.

At the station, fellow commuters and SGH staff will guide disabled and elderly commuters from the designated areas, and help them to shuttle-bus boarding points or other buildings on the SGH campus.

One waiting area is located near Exit F for the North-East Line, while the other is near Exit A for the East-West Line.

Mr Francis Tay, 57, an operations manager at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, said the initiative was "very helpful", as he relies on members of the public for help in getting around.

He said: "I don't have to keep asking people. I'm assured of where I'm able to find help." He added that Singaporeans are "rather gracious" in helping those with disabilities.

PTC also started trials yesterday for another new scheme called Heart Wheels, which provides wheelchairs for elderly commuters and those with physical difficulties.

HELP AT HAND

I don't have to keep asking people. I'm assured of where I'm able to find help.

MR FRANCIS TAY, an operations manager at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, saying the initiative was "very helpful", as he relies on help from people to get around. 

For now, there will be four wheelchairs at Outram Park station for commuters to use when crossing the 210m walkway between the East-West and North-East lines.

Able-bodied commuters will be encouraged to help commuters who are disabled and need to use the wheelchairs.

Mr Nay Lynn Hlaing, 39, who is the head of technical services at an engineering firm, used one of the wheelchairs to take his 70-year-old mother from one end of the station to the other. He found the initiative " very helpful".

He said: "She has a heart condition and feels very tired after walking, so this is useful."

Both the trials are expected to end on Sept 15.

The two trials are part of a wider initiative called Caring SG Commuters, which is aimed at providing commuters with "neutral platforms" to assist other commuters, said PTC chairman Richard Magnus.

He said: "We want to build a culture where commuters care for one another in simple ways which make a big positive difference."

Mr Magnus also said future trials for similar initiatives could be conducted, for instance, at the Novena MRT station, which is near Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

WATCH THE VIDEO

See the Heart Wheels wheelchair in action str.sg/4Ka9

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'More help at MRT station for elderly, people with disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe