Nearly all public buses here now wheelchair-accessible
Boarding a bus in a wheelchair has become easier. The unveiling of a new electric minibus yesterday has brought the last bus service in Singapore that is not wheelchair-friendly in line with the country's move to provide a fully inclusive public transport system.
The new green electric minibus on SMRT's service 825, which replaces its white, non-electric, non-wheelchair-accessible predecessor, is fitted with an automated wheelchair-lifting mechanism that takes around three minutes to accomplish its task.
The minibus is 8m long, unlike the typical 12m-long bus. Operating between Yio Chu Kang bus interchange and Lentor estate, service 825 was previously unable to ferry wheelchair users.
With the change, Singapore's public bus fleet of about 5,800 buses is now 99 per cent wheelchair-accessible, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
It also means that the country is just a notch away from fulfilling its goal to have all public buses accessible to wheelchair users by next year, a major milestone in its Land Transport Master Plan 2040.
Wheelchair user Wendy Tan gave the new bus the thumbs up yesterday when she boarded it using its automated wheelchair-lifting mechanism.
The 64-year-old retiree said: "The whole process is very safe, and I feel very comfortable. I am very happy that Singapore is taking these steps to help people like me."
LTA said four electric minibuses fitted to lift wheelchairs will be progressively introduced from today.
Bus captain Ramli Khamis, 57, who helped Ms Tan board the minibus, said it took him between one and two weeks to master the lifting mechanism.
But compared to other buses he had driven in his 19 years with SMRT, the minibus is impressive, he said.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng said: "While the commuters will enjoy better facilities and more spacious grounds, what is unique about this interchange is that there are more inclusive facilities to take care of the needy.
"The new bus also allows everyone access to the public buses. This is something very significant for us."