Making public transport easier for kids, elderly

The Family-Friendly Transport Advisory Panel will allow for closer attention to be paid to the needs of commuters, especially children and the elderly, said Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus.
The Family-Friendly Transport Advisory Panel will allow for closer attention to be paid to the needs of commuters, especially children and the elderly, said Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

New panel with members from 'diverse backgrounds' to study how such travel can be made more family-friendly

Singapore is stepping up a gear towards a car-lite future, with the formation of a new panel to study how public transport can be easier on children and the elderly.

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min revealed the new panel in a Facebook post yesterday.

"My aspiration is that families who now own cars because they need to ferry their children or their elderly parents will not need to do so any more in the future," he said.

Family-friendly public transport "lies at the heart of a family-friendly nation", he said.

The new Family-Friendly Transport Advisory Panel will be co-chaired by Public Transport Council chairman Richard Magnus and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.

The panel will be made up of representatives from "diverse backgrounds" who will consult widely, said Dr Lam.

NO NEED TO OWN CARS

My aspiration is that families who now own cars because they need to ferry their children or their elderly parents will not need to do so any more in the future.

SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT AND HEALTH LAM PIN MIN

Mr Magnus said the panel will allow for closer attention to be paid to the needs of commuters, especially children and the elderly. However, no date was given on when the new panel will be convened or when the study will be completed.

Public transport facilities should be "user-friendly and accessible for commuters with various needs" as Singapore moves towards its car-lite vision, the Land Transport Authority said last year when it announced a slew of inclusive and family-friendly initiatives.

These included allowing open strollers on public buses here, a move which was introduced in April. A restraint system to secure strollers is also expected to be tested on one bus service this year.

New bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs will feature nursing rooms, and in three years, all buses will be wheelchair-accessible.

Ms Hennilia Hani, 30, feels that buses could include features such as more space for wheelchairs and strollers, as well as automated ramps. The executive assistant occasionally accompanies her father, a 70-year-old wheelchair user, to his doctor's appointments on public transport. She said that beyond such initiatives, commuters could be more gracious. "Passengers should be more aware and helpful. They shouldn't have to wait for someone in a wheelchair to say 'excuse me' before they move," she said.

Handicaps Welfare Association president Edmund Wan agrees.

While such initiatives can make public transport more inclusive, what is really needed is the "heartware of our commuters", he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Making public transport easier for kids, elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe