MSF tweaks taxi subsidies, carpark labels for disabled

Income cap raised for those eligible for taxi scheme, which will include private-hire cars

More people with disabilities will benefit from taxi subsidies, while those travelling by car will be helped by updates on the use of accessible spaces.

These changes are a result of the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) beefing up the taxi subsidy scheme and carpark label scheme, which cater to people with disabilities. These upgrades were announced yesterday.

Starting next Tuesday, households with a monthly per capita income of up to $2,600 can tap taxi subsidies of up to 80 per cent, depending on their income tier.

This is up from the current parameter of $1,800. With the higher income cap, the number of beneficiaries is expected to rise from 80 to more than 200 by 2021.

The subsidies are available to Singaporeans and permanent residents who are medically certified as unable to take public transport or completely dependent on cabs for travelling to school or work.

The taxi subsidy scheme was introduced in 2014 to provide subsidies of up to 50 per cent to people with disabilities.

Ms Ivy Seah, 53, an assistant transport executive at Handicaps Welfare Association, said: "It (the subsidies) helps to offset the cost, especially since many of our clients have incomes on the lower end of the scale."

With the change, Mr Lim Eng Whatt, 67, a leading customer service agent in the food and beverage sector, will save about $500 on taxi fares per quarter based on his income tier. Previously, he paid about $1,440 for cab fares per quarter after the subsidies. The new scheme will reduce this amount to $900.

  • 80%

    Starting next Tuesday, households with a monthly per capita income of up to $2,600 can tap taxi subsidies of up to 80 per cent, depending on their income tier.

"I'm very happy with this change. Almost half of my take-home salary went to taxi fares before subsidies, and even with the subsidies I have now, I still have little money after paying for basic necessities. This increased subsidy will help with my transport," Mr Lim said.

The taxi scheme will be extended to those attending employment-related training supported by disability services and support organisation SG Enable. It will also cover Land Transport Authority-registered private-hire cars under third-party private-hire car service providers such as Grab and Uber.

MSF is updating the carpark label scheme as well, which now lets disabled drivers park in accessible spaces by displaying a blue label. Caregivers of the disabled get an orange label for them to park for an hour.

With the changes, which will roll out from November, only people with wheelchairs, walking frames and lower-limb prosthesis will be eligible to apply for the blue label. Currently, people with crutches and quad-sticks are also eligible.

The labels will be larger with clearer and bigger fonts, and have a tamper-proof hologram. The orange label for caregivers will have a time disc to clearly display the length of time the car has been in the space.

These will help combat the problem of people misusing labels, an issue highlighted by Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, executive director at the Disabled People's Association.

"Sometimes caregivers use the accessible space even when they're not carrying a disabled passenger. Other times, drivers without the labels use the space for their own convenience," she said.

Over the past five years, the number of carpark label holders has increased by about 30 per cent.

Ms Ainon Abdul Rahman, 58, a receptionist with polio, feels more has to be done to enforce the rules.

"Sometimes I find someone parking in the space without the label and I need to drive around until the person drives away or I find another space," she said. "There is not enough room in a normal space for me to open up my wheelchair."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'MSF tweaks taxi subsidies, carpark labels for disabled'. Print Edition | Subscribe