Inaugural Caring Commuter Week launched to make public transport journeys more inclusive

An exhibition at Jurong East Bus Interchange to mark the inaugural Caring Commuter Week. PHOTO: TOWER TRANSIT SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Some visually impaired people prefer to commute independently and may not always require help, and young commuters here may hold back from offering help to other commuters even though the youth view themselves as being caring.

These findings of a survey of more than 2,000 commuters in Singapore were presented at the launch of the inaugural Caring Commuter Week on Saturday (Nov 27).

The Caring Commuter Week, launched by President Halimah Yacob, aims to promote a gracious and caring commuter culture.

It is organised by the Caring SG Commuters Steering Committee, which conducted the survey between April and November last year. The committee, which was formed in 2020, carried out the survey on multiple platforms, including online and face-to-face focus group discussions.

The key findings from its report include:

- The youth surveyed said they may hold back from offering help due to their own concerns or challenges. However, some young people said they do perform "indirect" acts of care, such as quietly vacating their seats for vulnerable commuters or pressing the button for the bus to stop if they see a commuter running for the bus.

- Some visually impaired commuters prefer commuting independently. However, they appreciate it when commuters look out for them and give them time and space to navigate. They said they hope commuters do not feel disheartened when a visually impaired person declines their offer to help.

- The act of care goes both ways: Both the person helping and the one being helped should show care and appreciation.

As part of the Caring Commuter Week, there will be a host of activities from Saturday to Dec 5 to generate awareness of how everyone in the community can help make public transport journeys more inclusive.

For example, on Tuesday, some students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) will learn how to help vulnerable commuters, such as wheelchair users and the visually impaired, on public buses. The Public Bus Inclusivity Course will equip the students with soft skills such as how to approach a commuter to offer help and raise awareness on the needs of vulnerable commuters.

The course participants are from the NUS Enablers - a student group passionate about helping those with special needs.

On Wednesday, the Transport Gold and Caring Commuter Awards 2021 will recognise service staff in the transport industry who have displayed gracious behaviour and given exemplary service, as well as public transport commuters who have acted caringly towards those in need.

Tower Transit Singapore said in a statement on Saturday that an exhibition to promote inclusion of commuters with disability on public buses has opened at the Jurong East Bus Interchange.

This exhibition is part of a series of activities by Tower Transit to mark the Caring Commuter Week and is on from Saturday to Dec 31. It gives visitors insights into what people with physical disabilities experience on public buses, and features tips on how people with disabilities can commute safely and more comfortably on buses and how the public can offer assistance.

Other activities include the launch of a wall mural drawn by members of the Down Syndrome Association at Bukit Batok Bus Interchange and the setting up of a motorised wheelchair charging station at Yishun Bus Interchange. Commuters can make use of the charging station from Sunday.

(Front row, from left) Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng, President Halimah Yacob, Transport Minister S. Iswaran and Caring SG Commuters Steering Committee chair Richard Magnus at the launch of the Caring Commuter Week 2021 on Nov 27, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Transport Minister S. Iswaran said in his opening address at the launch of the Caring Commuter Week at the Land Transport Authority auditorium in Hampshire Road: "Our daily commute is not only about moving from point A to point B, but also how we navigate shared spaces as a community."

Creating a caring commuter environment started as early as 2009, when the Land Transport Authority began campaigns to promote graciousness on public transport through acts of thoughtful behaviour such as queueing and giving up one's seat to those who need it more.

"While the efforts of the Committee and the public transport stakeholders are important, and a foundation, it is only by collaborating closely with the community that we can build a culture where showing care for fellow commuters becomes a way of life," Mr Iswaran said.

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