The Straits Times
Published on Nov 19, 2012

More effective way of reserving seats on public transport


WHILE I agree that changing the mindsets of commuters is an ideal way of solving the problem of able-bodied people not giving up reserved seats on public transport, it is not effective as people's attitudes cannot be changed overnight ("Reserved red seats: Change mindsets instead" by Ms Tan Lin Neo; last Tuesday).

Although there are clear visual signs on reserved seats to remind commuters to offer the seats to those who need them more, these are not effective in prompting the able-bodied to give up their seats voluntarily.

Typically, such unyielding commuters pretend not to notice the presence of those who need the seats.

Thus, "silent reminders" (visual signs, including red seats) do not do the trick.

What may work is an effective auditory, or voice, reminder.

Reserved seats on trains and buses should be equipped with lights. When activated, these lights flash accompanied by a voice message: "This is a reserved seat. Please offer it to someone who needs it."

In this way, the person occupying the seat may have less of an excuse to avoid giving up the seat, on pain of personal embarrassment.

Xu Gan (Dr)