The Public Transport Council came up with recommendations to make bus and train journeys smoother and more accessible for commuters with special needs
PTC recommends more help for hearing or visually impaired commuters The council also suggested more education for the public and transport workers, on how to be more sensitive to the needs of commuters who may be hearing or visually impaired. PHOTO: ST FILE

Commuters with special needs may soon get more help when taking public transport, after the Public Transport Council (PTC) came up with recommendations to make bus and train journeys smoother and more accessible for them.

The council is, for example, proposing an app which provides updates on rail disruptions to hearing impaired commuters, in the form of a video of an avatar signing the information.

It has suggested that bus drivers make announcements to help visually impaired commuters know which bus has arrived. 

These were among the 21 recommendations announced by the council on Thursday (Jan 25), under its second advisory report to improve the public transport experience.

The report, which took in the views of more than 11,000 commuters through focus group sessions, surveys and in-depth interviews, has been submitted to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

PTC chairman Richard Magnus said: "Commuters have shared with us their wish for the public transport system to be inclusive of the vulnerable or special needs commuters."

The PTC also announced on Thursday that it will expand its Heart Zone trial, currently at Outram Park MRT station, in which designated areas are created for the elderly and visually impaired, so that they can get assistance to their destinations from other commuters.

The council said that Ng Teng Fong Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital will take on the same initiative, through a partnership with SMRT at Jurong East and Novena MRT stations by the second quarter of this year (2018).

Besides giving suggestions for a more inclusive transport network, PTC also gave recommendations to improve rail commutes - such as for station staff to get more training to ease crowding at train doors, and for individual MRT stations to work with community stakeholders to inform commuters of disruptions.

The inaugural advisory report was publicly released in August 2016 and contained 17 recommendations, several of which were taken up by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

These include allowing open prams on buses, implementing dual speeds for escalators at rail stations so they run slower during off-peak hours, and reviewing the design of buses and bus stops.

Since January 2016, the role of the PTC has expanded, and besides regulating transport fares, it is also an advisor to the Transport Minister.