More help for elderly and disabled public transport commuters

New scheme to set aside designated areas for elderly and disabled commuters

Elderly and disabled commuters are likely to get more help getting around when they use the public transport system.

One new scheme aims to set aside designated areas for the elderly and visually impaired commuters at MRT stations to allow them to get help from the public.

Called Heart Zone, the trial for the initiative - which will take place between 7.30am and 9.30am on weekdays - was launched yesterday at Outram Park MRT station by the Public Transport Council (PTC), in a tie-up with Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and rail operators SBS Transit and SMRT.

At the station, fellow commuters and SGH staff members will guide disabled and elderly commuters from the designated areas, and help them to shuttle bus boarding points or other buildings on the SGH premises.

One waiting area is located near Exit F for the North East Line, while the other is near Exit A for the East West Line.

Mr Francis Tay, 57, an operations manager at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, said the initiative was "very helpful", as he relies on the public for help in getting around.

He said: "I don't have to keep asking people. I'm assured of where I'm able to find help."

He added that Singaporeans are "gracious" in helping those with disabilities.

PTC also started trials yesterday for another new scheme called Heart Wheels, which provides wheelchairs for elderly commuters and those with physical difficulties.

For now, there will be four wheelchairs at Outram Park station for commuters to use when crossing the 210m walkway between the East-West and North-East lines.

Able-bodied commuters will be encouraged to help disabled commuters who need to use the wheelchairs.

Mr Nay Lynn Hlaing, 39, the head of technical services at an engineering firm who used one of the wheelchairs to take his 70-year-old mother from one end of the station to the other, said: "She has a heart condition, so she feels very tired after walking, so this is useful."

Both trials are expected to end on Sept 15.

The trials are part of a wider initiative called Caring SG Commuters, which is aimed at providing commuters with "neutral platforms" to assist other commuters, said PTC chairman Richard Magnus.

Mr Magnus also said future trials for similar initiatives could be conducted, for instance, at the Novena MRT station, which is near Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

OutramSingapore General Hospitaldisability