Restraint system on trial for strollers on buses

Demo on the use of the restraining device meant to help secure baby strollers in buses.ST VIDEO: FELINE LIM

System developed by Temasek Poly cuts risk to child if driver swerves or brakes suddenly

When the authorities in April allowed commuters to take strollers on board public buses without having to fold them, it did so with one caveat - that there is still a possible risk to the child if the driver swerves or brakes suddenly.

Today, a step is being taken to reduce the risk, with the trial of a stroller restraint system on just one bus under SBS Transit service 69, which serves housing estates and schools in Bedok and Tampines.

The stroller restraint - developed by Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and customised and made by ST Kinetics - will be placed in the designated wheelchair space, which can accommodate one stroller.

It has two slots to secure the stroller's handle, to cater for forward- and backward-facing strollers. This will ensure that the child will always face the back of the bus, for safety reasons.

A retractable belt will also secure the stroller to the handlebars in the wheelchair space.

Mr Jordan Ang, 20, who graduated with a diploma in product and industrial design from TP in April, designed the initial stroller system as part of his final-year project.

He and a classmate had researched the problem in the early stages. "We were most concerned with convenience, as well as the safety of the child," he said.

While it is not mandatory to take the extra safety measure, parents and caregivers are encouraged to do so, in addition to holding onto the strollers throughout the journey.

Service 69 was chosen as the test bed as it served mainly families going towards Tampines Bus Interchange and Tampines MRT station.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

We were most concerned with convenience, as well as the safety of the child.

MR JORDAN ANG, who designed the initial stroller system as part of his final-year project at Temasek Polytechnic. He and a classmate had researched the problem in the early stages.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), there is no specific timeline for the implementation of the restraint system.

It will gather feedback from parents and bus captains before deciding whether to roll out the system to more buses.

Extra safety measure welcomed

Since April 2, open strollers have been allowed on public buses.

The LTA had explained that despite some safety concerns, the authority and public bus operators had "on balance" decided to go ahead after feedback from parents.

It added that the move was part of efforts towards a more accessible and convenient public transport system, in line with the initiatives introduced over the last few years. However, strollers must be no larger than 120cm in length and 70cm in width.

While they should be placed in the designated wheelchair space, wheelchair users will be given priority. Strollers should also not be placed where they would obstruct the entry or exit of passengers, such as in the aisles or on the upper deck of double-decker buses.

An LTA spokesman said that "positive feedback" has been received from parents and caregivers on the initiative to allow open strollers on public buses, adding that it has helped to improve accessibility and convenience when travelling with young children.

Accounts executive Sara Wong, 32, called it a good move, especially for parents who travel during non-peak hours.

The mother of two also welcomed the additional safety feature.

"The new stroller-restraint system should be implemented on all buses," she urged.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Restraint system on trial for strollers on buses'. Print Edition | Subscribe