SMRT Buses boosts staff training to better help commuters with special needs

SMRT has partnered Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and SPD to conduct training for its staff.
SMRT has partnered Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and SPD to conduct training for its staff.PHOTO: SMRT CORPORATION
Front-line staff of SMRT Buses undergoing training to better communicate with and help commuters with special needs.
Front-line staff of SMRT Buses undergoing training to better communicate with and help commuters with special needs.PHOTO: SMRT CORPORATION

SINGAPORE - Public transport operator SMRT Buses is enhancing training for its front-line staff to better assist commuters with special needs.

Front-line staff such as bus drivers and interchange managers will learn how to communicate with and help commuters with different physical and intellectual disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder.

SMRT has partnered the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) and SPD, a charity which serves people with disabilities, to conduct training for its staff, it said in a release on Friday (June 4).

It is also trialling an app to help visually handicapped commuters navigate the new Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub, which will be operational from June 13 and will be the largest integrated transport hub in Singapore.

The NaviLens app, which has been launched in Barcelona and New York, provides audio assistance to visually handicapped commuters when they point a mobile phone camera in the general direction of a coloured tag.

The tags are strategically placed at various locations in the transport hub and can be captured from a long distance without the need to focus the camera lens.

More than 700 members of its staff have been trained since SMRT Buses launched its inclusive service delivery training centre in 2019.

The training centre will be located at the new transport hub in Woodlands, which is listed as a dementia go-to point by the Agency for Integrated Care. Such go-to points serve as resource centres on dementia and "safe return" points where the public can take people with dementia who may appear lost, to help them reunite with their caregivers.

Minds chief executive Kelvin Koh said: "Not all disabilities are visible, especially for persons with intellectual disability, who may struggle with communications."

This training link-up is a clear demonstration of SMRT's leadership in advancing the inclusion movement in a concrete and meaningful way, he added.

Other features of the new transport hub include a bus boarding assistance panel, which has Braille plates to assist visually impaired commuters, as well as artificial intelligence-enabled closed-circuit television cameras which alert SMRT staff to wheelchair users or commuters with walking aids.