WhyItMatters

Family matters in transport

A new panel will be convened to recommend measures to make the transport system in Singapore more family-friendly, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min announced last Thursday.

The announcement came on the back of initiatives introduced over the past few years to make the public transport system here more accessible and inclusive.

In 2006, barrier-free facilities were introduced at MRT stations. That same year, it was also announced that all new buses would have to be wheelchair accessible.

Last year, the Land Transport Authority announced other initiatives aimed at making the transport system more friendly to seniors and children, following recommendations by the Public Transport Council.

These included reduced escalator speeds at MRT stations frequented by children and the elderly, as well as priority queues at MRT stations and bus interchanges for pregnant women, the elderly, those with disabilities and parents with strollers.

Stations on the future Thomson-East Coast Line will also feature facilities such as nursing rooms and diaper-changing stations.

 

Even ride-hailing firms are getting in on the act, with Grab and Uber both offering child-seat services for the safety of passengers with young children.

As Singapore moves towards its car-lite goals, it is important that the ongoing upgrading of the public transport system is not focused solely on building more cycling tracks, or ensuring that the MRT network meets the reliability benchmarks set by standard-bearer metro systems such as those of Hong Kong or Taipei.

It is just as essential to ensure that buses and trains are made as attractive an option as owning a vehicle for those travelling with elderly parents, and parents of young children.

Only then can the Republic's transport system be considered to be truly world-class.

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Family matters in transport'. Print Edition | Subscribe