Letter on Catering to the Transport Needs of Different Disability Groups | SPD - Singapore

Letter on Catering to the Transport Needs of Different Disability Groups

The Public Transport Council (PTC) released on 1 August 2016 a raft of recommendations on how buses and trains can be made friendlier for families, seniors and wheelchair users. Some of the biggest concerns from commuters included crowding on public transport and stations, and issues of reliability and accessibility. SPD executive director Mr Abhimanyau Pal shares his views in this letter published in The Straits Times Forum on 6 August 2016, on how transport accessibility is essential in creating a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities.
We welcome the recommendations to improve public transport for commuters, including persons with disabilities (Public Transport Council makes raft of recommendations to improve public transport; August 1), and are encouraged to see the PTC and transport operators making improvements to the accessibility of our transport system.

Various initiatives have been implemented over time, like the introduction of service ambassadors to assist persons with special needs, and demarcation of priority queues and care zones at lifts and train platforms. Such efforts are laudable.

Public transport is an essential service for all. Holistically, we urge the authorities to broaden considerations to include public transport provisions for persons with all disabilities, including those with hearing and visual impairment, and to endeavor to gather and consider their feedback on what could make transport more accessible for them.

There are good practices overseas that we could learn from. Incorporating audio and visual announcements on buses and trains are helpful to persons with hearing and visual impairment. Talking bus-stops alert those with visual impairment to approaching buses, thereby encouraging independent travel. Visual announcements are also important to those with hearing impairment, particularly in times of emergencies or in the event of service disruptions, so that they are kept informed of what is happening and what to do.

In addition, to supplement the ‘hardware’ of transport accessibility measures, more public education to create greater awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities is needed to reinforce the ‘software’ of an inclusive mindset. Disability inclusiveness talks and training workshops for the public and transport providers are important to make transport truly accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities. Transport providers could work with SPD in this regard. SPD is currently working with Tower Transit on consultation, focus group and training sessions.

As public transport is made more accessible and more efforts are put in to ensure easy travel, we hope that more persons with disabilities would be encouraged to step out more often and participate in the community.