Wheelchair-friendly shuttles ply Gardens by the Bay

Wheelchair users such as Ms Lim can now see more of Gardens by the Bay with its eight new passenger shuttles, which are equipped with ramps and spaces for wheelchairs. Previously, only two of the Garden's 10 shuttles had wheelchair spaces.
Wheelchair users such as Ms Lim can now see more of Gardens by the Bay with its eight new passenger shuttles, which are equipped with ramps and spaces for wheelchairs. Previously, only two of the Garden's 10 shuttles had wheelchair spaces.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Gardens by the Bay launched a new fleet of wheelchair-friendly passenger shuttles yesterday.

Sponsored by public transport operator SMRT, each of the eight 22-seater electric minibuses comes with a wheelchair space and a foldable access ramp at its rear, enabling wheelchair users to board the shuttle directly.

The previous 14-seater shuttles required wheelchair users to disembark from their wheelchair in order to board the service.

Only two out of the 10 vehicles in the previous fleet were fitted with wheelchair spaces, but these had steeper ramps and lower carriage walls.

In addition, while wheelchair users were previously required to pay a fee of $3 for the shuttle service, rides are now complimentary.

Dr Kiat W Tan, CEO of Gardens by the Bay, said the idea for a wheelchair-friendly shuttle service had been in the works since the Garden's opening in 2012.

"When we were thinking of creating a people's garden, we knew it had to be inclusive," he said. "The programming of the garden has to be very sensitive towards the different groups in our community."

Mr Desmond Kuek, SMRT President and Group CEO, said: "Enhancing mobility is something that we aspire to achieve beyond our network, and this partnership with Gardens by the Bay allows us to give back to the community that we serve in a meaningful way."

AWWA Rehab and Day Care Centre beneficiary Peggy Lim, 63, was the first wheelchair user to board the new shuttle service.

She was joined by 30 other beneficiaries from AWWA Rehab and Day Care Centre and Geylang East Home for the Aged.

"I used to come to the Gardens but it was inconvenient because I had to be pushed from one place to another," she said in Mandarin. "Now, with this new service, I can see a lot more of the flowers and plants."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Wheelchair-friendly shuttles ply Gardens by the Bay'. Print Edition | Subscribe