Forum: MRT commuters need to be more considerate towards wheelchair users

I wish to commend SMRT staff member Abdul Razak Omar, who last Friday went out of his way to smooth the train journey home for me and my 84-year-old father.

My dad uses a wheelchair and often needs to travel to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for his medical appointments.

He boards at Lorong Chuan station, switches lines at Bishan station and alights at Novena.

While the journey itself is not far, the facilities that are meant to help the handicapped and elderly are limited.

Able-bodied commuters do not give way and take up precious space in the lifts, as well as space designated for wheelchairs in the train.

On the train platform, hardly any commuters queueing outside platform doors which lead to wheelchair-friendly carriages give way for wheelchair users to board first.

Teenage students and young adults simply use facilities reserved for those handicapped without any awareness of the effort and time that is required for wheelchair users to get from point A to point B.

Last Friday, the journey home was particularly frustrating as nobody gave way to my dad to get into the lift at Bishan station (most people using the lift were able-bodied).

We were also in a rush as I had to get my dad home before going out to pick up my six-year-old daughter from school.

Mr Abdul Razak Omar appeared out of the blue and accompanied us from Bishan station to Lorong Chuan station, walking ahead of us to clear the way, hold the lift doors open, and ask people to give way.

He accompanied us nearly all the way home to Chuan Park, and helped to ease the journey home for us greatly.

I am very grateful for what he did.

For wheelchair users and stressed-out caregivers alike, he is indeed a shining beacon of kindness who gave us some much-needed relief.

I appeal to commuters (especially teenagers and young adults) to be more considerate towards wheelchair users.

I suggest having a lift dedicated only to wheelchair users at Novena station for a start, where the lifts are used frequently by people in wheelchairs.

Given Singapore's ageing population, such dedicated lifts need to be considered for all train lines in the future.

In addition, we should allow only wheelchair users to queue for wheelchair-only train carriages, which should be allocated close to wheelchair-only lifts.

This needs to be in the blueprint for the next MRT upgrade.

Karen Khoo