LTA trials new app for commuters with special needs

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min testing the Mobility Assistance for the Visually Impaired and Special Users app on his smartphone.
Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min testing the Mobility Assistance for the Visually Impaired and Special Users app on his smartphone.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

SINGAPORE - A new mobile app that aims to make it easier for commuters with special needs to take public buses is on trial till end June.

The app rolled out by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will provide audio alerts for visually impaired commuters, while those in wheelchairs can use it to check whether there is room for them to board the bus.

The trial, which began on Monday (Jan 28), involves three buses from service 139 which serves the Enabling Village in Redhill.

From May to end June, these three buses will be redeployed to service 141, which goes past the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped in Toa Payoh.

Thereafter, the LTA will assess whether the app, named Mobility Assistance for the Visually Impaired and Special Users (Mavis), can be used on more public bus services.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced the trial in an event at the Enabling Village on Wednesday (Jan 30), where he also shared findings of a six-month public engagement exercise for the next Land Transport Master Plan.

A common feedback from participants was the need to make public transport more inclusive, said Dr Lam. The Mavis app does so by providing personalised journey guidance for commuters with special needs, he added.

To participate in the trial, commuters with special needs can register with SG Enable via e-mail at mavis@sgenable.sg.

App users will have to select their boarding and alighting stops when submitting a request through Mavis, and bus drivers will be notified so that they can provide assistance.

Visually impaired commuters can use the app to trigger an announcement from a speaker near the boarding door of the bus when it arrives. An audio announcement will also be made in the bus whenever it is approaching a stop.

Passengers with hearing aids that has the T-Loop feature - a special type of sound system - will be alerted of the upcoming bus stop through the system.

IT program executive Chong Kwek Bin, 37, said the external speaker on the bus would be very helpful for visually-impaired commuters like himself.

And if the app is rolled out across the entire bus network, people with visual impairments "can even explore bus routes and pick one that they never really knew about", he added.

A survey conducted to gather feedback for the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 found that 85 per cent of commuters are willing to accept delays of up to five minutes to allow commuters with special needs to safely board or alight trains and buses.

The public consultation, which started in August last year, received more than 7,000 responses from members of the public, academics, unions, industry players and transport workers.

 
 

Feedback also showed that Singaporeans valued a convenient, connected and fast land transport system. By 2040, about 95 percent of respondents expect to take less than 45 minutes to travel between their homes and workplaces, and less than 20 minutes between their homes and neighbourhood centres.

In addition, respondents said they wanted a land transport system that improves their quality of life.

This would mean a safer transport system that promotes personal health and well-being, more appealing walking and cycling options, as well as cleaner and quieter roads.

The respondents gave various suggestions to improve the transport system, including widening existing park connector networks and cycling paths as an alternative to building dedicated pathways.

Respondents also generally agreed to prioritise need of commuters, such as those riding buses or bicycles, over private car users when designing roads and paths. In LTA's online survey, the number of people who support reducing roads from three lanes to two lanes to create dedicated cycling paths more than doubled those who opposed such measures.

Cyclists and personal mobility device users asked for such paths so as to enable faster and safer journeys.

The Land Transport Master Plan Advisory Panel will consider the views gathered from the public engagement and finalise recommendations to the Government by mid-February.