Priority MRT cabins and more sheltered walkways in the pipeline

A sheltered walkway under the MRT track near Simei station. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Infrastructure will be improved to make it easier for people with different mobility needs to use public transport.

The projects to be implemented include a pilot test of priority cabins for vulnerable commuters and 100km of sheltered walkways, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng on Thursday (March 7).

He was responding to Mr Yee Chia Hsing (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who asked what measures are being taken to ensure that the transport system remains accessible to all.

Mr Baey noted that the drive for a more inclusive system is in line with the Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP) Advisory Panel's recommendations, all of which were accepted by the Government on Thursday.

These propose that by 2040 all journeys to the nearest neighbourhood centre be completed in less than 20 minutes while nine in 10 peak-period trips should take less than 45 minutes.

It also recommended that the transport system be inclusive to all, safe and support active lifestyles while contributing to a cleaner environment.

Measures like priority cabins aim to make public transport more user-friendly for families, Mr Baey noted on Thursday, adding: "The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be conducting a pilot on one of the rail lines to designate priority cabins for vulnerable commuters such as seniors, persons with disabilities and families with young children.

"Other commuters are encouraged to give way to them in these cabins, which will be located near the station lifts where possible."

The rail line where the cabins will be tested is still being finalised.

Other forms of public transport will be enhanced as well with all buses installed with a stroller restraint system by 2020 while new taxi stands will be designed to be barrier-free, Mr Baey said.

More sheltered walkways will also be built. The LTA completed a five-year, $300 million programme last year to build 200km of walkways.

Mr Baey said that with more than 60 new MRT stations being built, a further 100km of walkways will be erected by 2029.

He added: "We must be careful in considering other locations to ensure limited resources are targeted at those who need the assistance more."

Mr Baey also announced that 20 more zones designed to enhance road safety for the elderly in residential areas will be built by 2020.

These areas, named Silver Zones, will be created in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Potong Pasir Avenue 1 and Tampines Street 81 among other sites.

There have been 15 Silver Zones built since 2014 with the aim of having 50 by 2023.

The LTMP Advisory Panel also recommended two other strategies to help meet the needs of transport users - to train workers to respond to different commuter needs and nurture a gracious and caring community culture.

Mr Baey noted that there has been progress in these areas and improvements will continue to be made, adding in Mandarin that the Government, workers and commuters need to work together to build a safe and inclusive transport system.

"While infrastructure and campaigns can facilitate gracious behaviour, it is not sufficient," he said.

"We need motorists and commuters to take care of one another by sparing a thought for others and putting others' needs before self."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.