Commuters welcome moves to improve accessibility

Thumbs up for initiatives such as slower escalators, priority queues and enabling open prams on buses

LTA announced yesterday that it would roll out several initiatives that will make travelling by buses and trains less of a hassle for those who are less than able-bodied.
LTA announced yesterday that it would roll out several initiatives that will make travelling by buses and trains less of a hassle for those who are less than able-bodied.PHOTO: ST FILE

Commuters are looking forward to a slew of measures which will make travelling by buses and trains less of a hassle for those who are less than able-bodied.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced yesterday that it would roll out several initiatives in this vein, from having priority queues at new train stations and bus interchanges to slowing down the speed of escalators during off-peak periods.

Retiree Anthony Oei, 82, said having slower escalators is a good idea. "Some of them are very fast. For people like us, it can be very hard."

He also gave the priority queues idea the thumbs up. "We will like it, but I wonder what the public and the young people will think?"

He noted that public transport operators overseas were considerate towards the needs of the elderly. Citing the example of Taiwan, he said: "When I took the high-speed train from Kaohsiung to Taipei, I was directed to carriage No. 5, which was the nearest to the escalator."


Another retiree, Mr Lee Chiu San, 70, said he has no problem with the current escalator speed but "younger friends who have health problems might appreciate this".

  • Key measures


    Restraint systems being designed to allow open prams or strollers to be secured on buses. 


    Thomson-East Coast Line and future lines to have escalators and travelators which move slower during off-peak hours. Eventually, all existing lines will have these. There will be trials at selected stations soon. 


    The elderly, pregnant, disabled and parents travelling with prams will have dedicated queues at train stations by the end of next year. 


    Study to improve design of 800 bus stops across the island to start next year and be completed by 2019. 


    The Land Transport Authority is looking at rolling out buses with three doors and two staircases to aid commuter flow and encourage commuters to move to the rear of the bus. 


    New bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs will have nursing rooms. Thomson-East Coast Line and future lines to have family-friendly washrooms, comprising a diaper changing station, child-size toilet seat and barrier-free facilities.

He was also for priority queues, saying "various people deserve priority".

In another new measure, buses will eventually be able to accommodate open baby prams.

The LTA said it will collaborate with the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science and Nanyang Polytechnic to look into designing a restraint system for these prams.

"Once the prototype of the proposed restraint system is available, LTA will work with the public transport operators as well as pram users to trial it on our buses," it said.

The authority added that nursing room and diaper-changing facilities will also be part and parcel of new rail lines and bus interchanges.

Mother-of-two Michell Tan, 35, said: "Having nursing facilities is a step in the right direction."

The executive producer at a creative production company, who is part of a breastfeeding community, said many people are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding.

She said: "There are a lot of working mums out there who still express their milk for their babies and having a government entity recognising that will be a great push and support for awareness."

Allowing open prams on buses "is great too", she said. "No one has the time to close prams with the babies in arms to board a bus," she noted.

While measures such as slower escalators during off-peak hours may draw some murmurs about compromised efficiency, stockbroker Cole Cheong, 49, said he does not think people will protest.

"We are always rushing from here to there, and I think it is good to have something to hold us back and make us slow down a little."

Retiree Jeff Chew, 78, concurred: "The population is greying. People don't naturally give way that much.

"I take the MRT a few times a week, and I certainly think these new measures will be helpful."

Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Sitoh Yih Pin said: "While it is important that we strive towards a public transport system that is run smoothly and efficiently, we must also ensure that the system is accessible to all Singaporeans."

Inclusiveness and efficiency, he said, are not mutually exclusive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Commuters welcome moves to improve accessibility'. Print Edition | Subscribe