SINGAPORE - Be it waiting for a bus or crossing the road, seniors and people with mobility needs will soon receive more help getting around.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be rolling out priority queues at all new bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs. This will allow the elderly, pregnant women and those with disabilities to wait in designated areas near the boarding berths, known as priority queue zones.
The Joo Koon hub, which starts operating on Saturday, will be the first integrated transport hub to get the zones. Such hubs are fully air-conditioned bus interchanges linked to MRT stations with adjoining commercial developments .
The Joo Koon hub will have three priority queue zones with seats and tactile paving to help the visually-impaired locate them.
Signs have also been put up to encourage commuters to give way to those waiting in the priority zone when boarding the bus.
Priority queues were first piloted at a temporary bus interchange in Yishun in March. The LTA, responding to feedback from the pilot, made signage more prominent at the Joo Koon hub through better placement and brighter colours.
Madam Chew Sok Choo, 63, a part-time waitress, welcomed the new initiàtive, saying: "At our age, we sometimes get leg cramps if we stand for too long. It'll be good to sit down while we wait."
The LTA said the priority queue is part of "a series of senior-friendly initiatives that ensure that seniors and those with mobility needs can enjoy safe and pleasant journeys".
There are also plans to improve way-finding signs at public transport nodes - through simplifying information on them and exploring the use of more pictograms or icons, the LTA said.
It is also evaluating feedback from a public consultation in August with a group of seniors, and has plans to start carrying out improvements by the fourth quarter of next year .
Meanwhile, more elderly people will benefit from the Green Man Plus scheme which was launched in 2009. By tapping concession cards on readers on traffic light poles, seniors and people with mobility needs can extend the green-man time at crossings by three to 13 seconds, depending on the size of the crossing.
The LTA said it has awarded a contract worth $6.9 million to expand the scheme to another 500 crossings islandwide, doubling the more than 500 existing ones. Work will start this month and the project will be completed in 2018.
One new location to get the extended green-man feature is the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Ang Mo Kio Avenues 3 and 6.
As the area has many elderly residents, Mr Koh Ann Keong, a centre manager at the nearby AWWA Community Home for Senior Citizens, wrote to the authorities in June requesting the scheme. He said: "The road is six lanes wide. Giving the elderly more time to cross will definitely reduce their anxiety."