Affordable and Accessible Transport Helps People with Disabilities Move Forward | SPD - Singapore
Affordable and Accessible Transport Helps People with Disabilities Move Forward
In a letter to The Straits Times, published on 7 July 2014, SPD’s executive director Mr Abhimanyau Pal shares his view on how recently announced public transport initiatives help to enhance the lives of people with disabilities in the long run.
WE are encouraged to hear that SBS Transit is adding more wheelchair-accessible buses to its fleet and that there are plans in place for all public buses to be wheelchair-accessible by 2020 ("SBS to complete fleet renewal by 2017"; 2 July).
Public transport is important to persons with disabilities, as it is to any other member of the community. Those with disabilities also need an affordable and accessible form of transport to get to school and work and for leisure.
Having more wheelchair-accessible buses, along with the transport subsidies announced by the Government this year, makes public transport a viable travel option for persons with disabilities, some of whom currently have little choice but to rely on taxis and private transport to get around.
This will help to reduce the financial burden for those with low income, while funds raised by voluntary welfare organisations to provide transport subsidies for those with disabilities could be channelled to help them in other areas.
Having the ability to move from one place to another plays a crucial role in the integration of persons with disabilities into society.
Greater accessibility gives these individuals more independence and encourages them to step out and engage in more community activities. Only when they are able to participate socially will they truly be a part of the community.
We laud the many efforts that have gone into making public transport more accessible, such as having in place at least one barrier-free entrance with lifts at train stations, tactile guidance systems and wheelchair-accessible toilets at bus interchanges.
Nevertheless, there are still difficulties that people with disabilities have to grapple with when taking public transport, for instance, inaccessible bus stops, inaccessible routes to bus stops and inability to get onto crowded buses.
We hope that these issues will progressively be resolved as the Government, city planners and transport providers better understand and work towards meeting the needs of our growing and ageing population.
While infrastructure takes time to be improved or modified, the public can play a part in building an inclusive community by being more accepting of persons with disabilities. A little more consideration and patience shown by giving way to them at lifts, trains and buses goes a long way in making them feel included, and enhances their travelling experience.