Ways to help seniors enjoy a smoother ride

Officer manager Phyllis Chng, 62, gave her feedback on the passenger information display (above her) on trial in buses.
Officer manager Phyllis Chng, 62, gave her feedback on the passenger information display (above her) on trial in buses.PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

LTA testing coloured markings, larger and better-placed signs, bigger fonts, electronic screens with audio prompts

Around 30 elderly commuters who travelled from Marymount MRT station to Bishan bus interchange yesterday were busy looking at signs pointing them to toilets, lifts or trains.

They were not lost but participants on a mission to help the Land Transport Authority (LTA) try out new signs which the agency hopes will make it easier for the elderly to navigate public transport.

In yesterday's trial, stickers featuring mascots pointing to the various train lines were put up by the LTA, while signs for lifts and toilets were made bigger and placed in areas where they are easier to spot.

A bus was also fitted with a new display which showed the next three stops, along with audio announcements.

After an hour spent testing the signs, the 30 participants returned to LTA's headquarters on Hampshire Road to share their thoughts.

"I like that the toilet sign was placed outside the control room and you can see it once you exit the gantry," said officer manager Phyllis Chng, 62. "Previously at Bishan MRT Station, you just go to the shopping centre for the toilet."

Many of the seniors welcomed the bigger fonts, larger signs and how the various train lines were marked out by colours - red for the North-South Line and orange for the Circle Line.

Mr Linus Manuel, a 67-year-old semi-retired interior designer, said the display system on the bus made travelling less stressful.

"Normally, when you don't know the area well, you're stressed, you're standing and looking for landmarks," he said. "But maybe the audio can use a local voice instead of a robotic one."

The trial was a result of feedback gathered from 47 focus group discussions organised by the Ministerial Committee for Ageing since June last year. Participants shared that they sometimes felt disoriented travelling between train stations and bus interchanges.

Mr Manuel said he was travelling from Stadium MRT station home to Hougang once and could not find the North-East Line at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station.

"It was getting late and I could have missed the train," he said.

These enhancements to make the public transport more elderly-friendly come under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing and will likely be rolled out in new train stations first, said Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport.

"We know that our seniors are living longer and we want them to be able to enjoy this longevity as much as possible, and a very important part of it is to be able to move around easily without a high degree of stress," she added.

" As much as possible, I would like to reduce the stress points so our seniors will find it easy and enjoyable to use public transport."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Ways to help seniors enjoy a smoother ride'. Print Edition | Subscribe