Commuters with mobility issues can learn to take buses at Jurong East interchange

The course is among a series of initiatives the company is rolling out to get the wider community involved in making public transport friendlier. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Commuters with mobility issues can practise boarding and alighting from buses at the relocated Jurong East interchange as part of bus operator Tower Transit Singapore's efforts to boost their confidence when taking public transport.

It is part of a free course, with trainers guiding such commuters through the layout of public buses and the interchange, which is located next to JCube along Jurong Gateway Road.

The two-session course is open to the public, as well as social service agencies and hospitals looking to equip their clients and patients.

Tower Transit launched the programme on Saturday (Jan 30), along with several other initiatives aimed at promoting inclusivity in the public transport sphere.

For the first run of the course, Tower Transit has partnered SPD, a charity which helps people with disabilities, to coach its clients.

Mr Kishon Chong, Tower Transit's customer experience and inclusivity officer who will facilitate the course, said it would help commuters with mobility issues to "regain some independence and confidence to travel on public buses".

Mr Chong, a wheelchair user, added: "It will teach participants to board, ride and alight from a moving bus safely, and help them manage very real anxieties like the thought of holding up other passengers."

The course is among a series of initiatives the company is rolling out to get the wider community involved in making public transport friendlier.

Tower Transit will also be enlisting the help of students from nearby schools to help commuters at the relocated interchange, which has been in operation since Dec 6 last year.

It will continue to operate there until the completion of the Jurong East integrated transport hub, which would encompass the MRT station, around 2027.

The public transport company said students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West's rapid transit engineering course will be trained in basic customer service and introduced to the different bus routes, so they can look out for those who need help with bags, directions or to move around.

Wheelchair user Taufik Sardon, 39, who is in the information technology line, said taking public transport can be daunting.

Mr Taufik, who plans to take the course for commuters with mobility issues, added: "In Singapore's fast-paced society, we never really think about the challenges that the disabled face. So such initiatives will help us greatly."

The relocated interchange, which is operated by Tower Transit, includes several features aimed at creating a more inclusive public transport scene.

Among other things, there is a nursing room for those travelling with infants and young children, and a voice intercom system that allows commuters to get help from staff without visiting the passenger service office.

There are also QR codes at all boarding berths for commuters to download service guides of Tower Transit buses.

In addition, one of the 21 retail spaces for rent at the interchange has been set aside to support community activities and social business.

SG Enable, an agency supporting people with disabilities, plans to use the space, called the Tower Community Store, to raise awareness of its programmes and for community outreach initiatives.

The interchange also includes a canteen operated by the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU).

Patrons can donate a meal there to needy families living in Yuhua for $3 under the Belanja-a-Meal @ South West initiative. For every meal donated, Tower Transit will match it one for one. The bus operator will also donate an additional 200 meals a month.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu toured the busy interchange on Saturday (Jan 30).

Ms Fu, who is MP for Yuhua SMC, shared that Jurong East has several medical institutions, such as Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital, and is a town with many elderly residents.

She said Tower Transit's initiatives can go a long way in helping others in the community.

"I hope that this kind of caring spirit can propagate to all our public interchanges," added Ms Fu.

Correction note: An earlier version of the article misstated the name of ITE College West's engineering course. We are sorry for the error.

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