More help for elderly, disabled commuters at MRT station

Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport Lam Pin Min (centre), with Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of the Public Transport Council, looking at the Heart Zone on Aug 14, 2017.
Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport Lam Pin Min (centre), with Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of the Public Transport Council, looking at the Heart Zone on Aug 14, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Elderly and handicapped commuters will get more help getting around when they use the public transport system.

One new scheme in the pipeline will set aside two designated areas for the elderly and visually impaired commuters at MRT stations.

Called Heart Zone, the trial for the initiative was launched on Monday (Aug 14) at Outram Park MRT station by the Public Transport Council (PTC), in a tie-up with Singapore General Hospital and rail operators SBS Transit and SMRT. It will run between 7.30am and 9.30am on weekdays.

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

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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.

The PTC also started trials on Monday (Aug 14) for a second scheme called Heart Wheels, which provides wheelchairs for elderly commuters and those with physical difficulties.

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


Heart Wheels, which provides wheelchairs for elderly commuters and those with physical difficulties to navigate with greater ease along the linkway connecting East-West and North East Line, at Outram MRT on Aug 14, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


Mr Francis Tay, a 57-year-old visually impaired IT administrator, with SGH nurse Aslinah Aboobaker, who is also a volunteer for the initiative, at the Heart Zone on Aug 14, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Able-bodied commuters will be encouraged to help disabled commuters who need to use the wheelchairs, which each cost $300, and are sponsored by the two rail operators.

Both the trials are expected to last a month, from Aug 14 to Sep 15.

The PTC will gather feedback from the public on the effectiveness of the trials, and whether the schemes can be rolled out at other transport nodes.

PTC chairman Richard Magnus said: "Commuters told PTC they wished they knew how to help others. Our elderly, frail and blind commuters told us how they would like to receive assistance and support. We want to build a culture where commuters care for one another in simple ways, which make a big positive difference."

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

Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport Lam Pin Min, who attended the launch of the two initiatives, said it was "meaningful" for commuters to help others in need of assistance.