SMRT staff goes the extra mile to help autistic boy get home

With April being World Autism Awareness Month, we share stories of how SMRT’s frontline staff put the company’s WeCare service ethos into action to help commuters with autism.

For Assistant Station Manager (ASM) Nor Heiadayah Binte Abdullah, this means being observant and going beyond the call of duty and paying extra attention to students from special education (Sped) schools such as ASPN Tanglin School located within the proximity of Redhill MRT station where she worked.

Her proactiveness paid off towards the end of her shift on 9 February last year, when she noticed a boy in an APSN Tanglin School uniform looking frustrated and lost. When she approached him at the platform, the boy cried uncontrollably. Undeterred, she kept assuring him she was there to help.

“I just wanted to help him, and I told him that no matter how he felt, I was there for him and he could sit down and talk to me,” said ASM Heiadayah. “I recognised his school uniform. Knowing that he had special needs, I was concerned about his safety and well-being as it can be difficult for students like him to express their feelings.”

When a train pulled into the station, the boy dashed to board it and ASM Heiadayah, 40, quickly followed him. While in the train, she noticed the mobile phone number of the boy’s mother, Madam Chin Chow Hong, was on his lanyard and contacted her.

Madam Chin, 44, revealed to ASM Heiadayah that her son, Mr Bryan Wong, 17, has autism and was supposed to head back home in Yishun as per his normal routine.

“I was very anxious and helpless when I received the call from Heiadayah, because I knew something must have happened to Bryan,” said Madam Chin, who is a training coordinator. “Prior to this incident, Bryan was lost on four separate occasions while taking the public transport. On that day, Bryan was disoriented because he had a meltdown.”

ASM Heiadayah told Madam Chin, who was busy at work, that she would accompany Bryan from Redhill to Yishun. To further reassure Madam Chin, she also provided regular updates on how Bryan was doing.

ASM Heiadayah Binte Abdullah (right) helped Mr Bryan Wong, who has autism, reunite with his mother, Mdm Chin Chow Hong. Photo: SMRT
SMRT Assistant Station Manager (ASM) Nor Heiadayah Binte Abdullah (right) helped Mr Bryan Wong, who has autism, find his way home. With them is his mother, Mdm Chin Chow Hong, at Yishun MRT station. Photo: SMRT

Recounting this incident, Madam Chin revealed this was the first time someone offered to accompany her son home.

She said: “Heiadayah is special to me and I am very grateful that she went the extra mile, even though she did not have to accompany him to Yishun MRT station. I will remember this incident forever.”

Frontline staff efforts part of SMRT’s WeCare service ethos

The story of ASM Heiadayah, and that of her colleagues SASM Alain, SM Norazhar and ASM Hafiz (see other post here) are examples of SMRT’s WeCare service ethos put into practice, where frontline staff go the extra mile to provide commuter-centric, safe, reliable and comfortable journeys.

The WeCare service ethos can be found in the suite of services by SMRT, such as dementia Go-To Points and Go-To SMRT. These are all part of SMRT’s efforts to build affinity and better serve commuters on our network.

This post was adapted from the article “SMRT’s WeCare service ethos is powered by its frontline staff”, the full version of which was published in The Sunday Times on 3 April 2022.

SMRT staff help wounded boy who has autism

As part of service excellence, SMRT’s frontline staff put themselves in the shoes of commuters in order to serve them as best as they can.

With April being World Autism Awareness Month, we share how one of SMRT’s frontline staff, Senior Assistant Station Manager (SASM) Alain Goon, 52, put the company’s WeCare service ethos into action to help a commuter who has autism.

On 9 February this year at Caldecott MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line, SASM Goon spotted a young boy, who looked like a primary school student, with bloodstains on his arms and bruises on his kneecap.

“Something was amiss because it seemed like he had an accident and I wanted to offer my assistance. He appeared lost as well,” said SASM Goon. “It was not easy to get the boy to the first aid room as he ran away when I approached him and proceeded to play the cat-and-mouse game with me.”

(From left): ASM Muhammad Hafiz Bin Latiff, SASM Alain Goon and SM Norazhar Bin Omar. Photo: SMRT
(From left): ASM Hafiz, SASM Alain and SM Norazhar from Caldecott MRT station showed teamwork and empathy to assist a boy with autism. Photo: SMRT

With the help of his colleagues, Station Manager (SM) Norazhar Bin Omar, 45, and ASM Muhammad Hafiz Bin Latiff, 29, SASM Goon managed to locate and coax the boy to the first aid room, where they cleaned and bandaged his wounds.

Upon realising the boy could not share his name and address, SASM Goon found a mobile phone number in the boy’s bag and spoke to his mother.

“She told me that her son has autism and thanked us for taking care of him,” said SASM Goon.

Frontline staff efforts part of SMRT’s WeCare service ethos

The story of SASM Alain, SM Norazhar and ASM Hafiz, as well as that of their colleague ASM Heiadayah (see other post here) are examples of SMRT’s WeCare service ethos put into practice, where frontline staff go the extra mile to provide commuter-centric, safe, reliable and comfortable journeys.

The WeCare service ethos can be found in the suite of services by SMRT, such as dementia Go-To Points and Go-To SMRT. These are all part of SMRT’s efforts to build affinity and better serve commuters on our network.

This post was adapted from the article “SMRT’s WeCare service ethos is powered by its frontline staff”, the full version of which was published in The Sunday Times on 3 April 2022.

SMRT wins UITP award for Go-To initiative

SMRT is honoured and humbled to share that its efforts to serve commuters better have now been internationally recognised.

The Singapore-based public transport operator was named winner of the Marketing Campaign category at the 6th International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Awards 2021 for its “Go-To SMRT” initiative whereby its commuter services and facilities were enhanced to better serve the community.

Under Go-To SMRT, members of the public are encouraged to embrace SMRT-operated transport nodes as the first place they turn to for their common needs such as wayfinding, first aid, dementia Go-To Points (GTP), locating missing children or the elderly that may help in their commutes in the public transport network.

Others nominated for the marketing campaign category were public transport firm Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (SITB) which operates metro, tram and bus lines in the Belgian capital Brussels, and Transports Publics Genevois which runs most of the public transport system in the Geneva district of Switzerland.

The ceremony for the prestigious UITP Awards was held during the MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition in Dubai on 6 Feb 2022.

A total of 320 projects from 28 finalists contested for awards in 8 categories, including for climate and health, diversity and inclusion, and operational & technological excellence.

Held biennially, the UITP Awards is a key date on the annual calendar of public transport industries. According to the UITP, the Awards showcase the most ambitious and innovative projects in cities and regions around the world. For the marketing campaign category, UITP said they look for “creative, original and result-oriented” projects which “make a positive impact on the perception of public transport while reinforcing customer trust in the services provided. It can be a stand-alone campaign, or as part of a wider one that is aligned with the overall strategy and objectives of the organisation.

Serving commuters within SMRT’s network

Launched in April 2021, Go-To SMRT features a unique “Scan & Go-To” QR code which is like a digital concierge service for commuters to easily access useful travel information. It includes Go-To Maps featuring frequently-asked-for amenities surrounding the stations, train and bus timings, and alternative travel information. Facilities such as first aid rooms and WeCare rooms have been refreshed to make them more welcoming and comfortable.

Posted by SMRT on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Scenario-based training has also been included to the training curriculum for SMRT’s frontline staff at MRT stations and bus interchanges so that they can confidently and competently handle a variety of situations more commonly encountered within the network.

The training is provided by partner organisations such as the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd (GDS) and the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA).

The Go-To initiative complements SMRT-run train stations and bus interchanges listed as Dementia Go-To Points (GTP) by the Agency for Integrated Care as part of a collaboration between SMRT and AIC under the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative.

GTPs are touch points within the community that serve as resource centres to provide information and useful resources on dementia and link those who need help with relevant dementia-related services. It also serves as a ‘safe return’ point where members of the public can bring persons living with dementia who may appear lost for help. Trained SMRT staff will be able to assist in helping to contact their next-of-kin.

As of February 2022, 46 train stations on SMRT’s network and all four bus interchanges that the company runs are dementia GTPs. By the end of 2022, all 98 SMRT-run train stations on the North-South and East West Lines, and the Thomson-East Coast Line will be listed at dementia GTPs.

Staying commuter-centric

While a nod to SMRT’s efforts, the UITP award is also another reminder that providing safe, reliable and comfortable journeys on SMRT’s public transport network remains the company’s top priority.

As SMRT Group CEO Mr Neo Kian Hong aptly summed up when the Go-To SMRT initiative was launched in April 2021, “Go-To SMRT is a key part of our WeCare service ethos, which seeks to care for everyone we meet and serve.”

Making sustainability a key part of SMRT’s DNA

As a leading public transport operator in Singapore, SMRT is aware that our businesses and actions impact how current and future generations live, work and play.

Mindful of our responsibilities, we have embraced sustainability as one of our key corporate values, integrating it at the strategic and operational levels with the aim of creating a positive impact for Singapore and its people.

The aim of being sustainable is to create value over the long term for our stakeholders, by keeping a keen eye on environmental sustainability, community engagement and development, and having strict corporate governance and robust systems and process to make sure business practices are conducted in a transparent, ethical and responsible manner.

SMRT’s sustainability strategy has three pillars:

  • Green Business & Operations – Focus on building operations resilience and resource efficiency to guard against climate change risks.
  • Sustainable Communities – Focus on enhancing workplace wellness, workforce development and building sustainable communities.
  • Responsible Practices – Focus on generating shareholder value through ethical and transparent business practices.

AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY ORGANISATION

At SMRT, sustainability is a key aspect of our plans and programmes as we align ourselves with the Singapore Green Plan 2030. We are committed to environmentally sustainable developments in energy reduction, water conservation, better waste management, and green advocacy. The goal is to cut energy and carbon footprint consumption by 5 per cent, and to reduce year-on-year water and paper consumption by 10 and 20 per cent respectively.

SMRT has been exploring ways to achieve this. These include:

  • Ramping up the use of solar power for Bishan, Tuas West and Mandai depots.
  • Having fully electric taxi and bus fleets by 2026 and 2040, respectively.
  • Switching to eco-friendly hand dryers at MRT station toilets.
  • Implementing dual-cycle recycling for trains (water from the second rinse of a train is recycled for pre-washing of the next train), which saves about 670,000 litres of fresh water monthly.
  • Managing metal and e-waste, which has so far seen 1,600 tonnes of scrap metal recycled, and electronic waste disposed of properly, reused or re-sold.

A key component of SMRT’s sustainability strategy is to also nurture a green company culture.

This means actively engaging staff on green initiatives and goals, raising their awareness of the latest sustainability issues, and encouraging them to take ownership and participate in a green lifestyle. Staff can share their ideas for sustainability projects and showcase their achievements. Activities, such as workshops and fairs, will also be conducted to further efforts in green advocacy.

Externally, we spread the green message to stakeholders, partners and the wider public by leveraging our media, digital and network assets. SMRT also aims to expand our efforts as an environmental steward, seeking collaborations with notable campaigns such as Earth Day, World Environment Day, and Singapore International Water Week. We also work with green non-governmental organisations such as Singapore Environment Council to improve our green practices and targets.

LOOKING AFTER OUR WORKFORCE

To be sustainable is more than just being environmentally friendly. It also means adopting more sustainable employment practices to create a more equitable workforce, which in turn creates a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

A member of SMRT's staff performing maintenance work. Photo by SMRT.
Providing re-skilling opportunities for staff to be future ready is a key aspect of SMRT’s sustainability drive. Photo: SMRT

Developing a workforce that is adaptable, competent and flexible is vital to SMRT’s sustainability strategy. Employees have ample opportunities to upskill and develop their capabilities through work-study programmes and partnerships with Institutes of Higher Learning. SMRT also works with LTA to run programmes and scholarships for engineering students to build a steady supply of talent. This helps establish sustainable growth for the future in order to provide quality jobs for the workforce and deliver service excellence to our customers.

Being sustainable also means looking after the well-being of our staff, particularly with the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic being felt. Besides regular and sustained public messaging efforts to remind commuters to follow safe management guidelines, SMRT has also introduced measures to protect its staff, such as stepped-up testing and vaccination drives for frontline employees and educating our taxi partners on safety precautions when interacting with passengers. SMRT has also started mental health and wellness initiatives for employees by joining the City Health Alliance since 2020.

A MORE INCLUSIVE COMMUTING EXPERIENCE

Frontline staff from SMRT assist a commuter to board a bus. Photo by SMRT.
SMRT is committed to helping foster a more inclusive public transport experience for all commuters. Photo: SMRT

Being sustainable also means contributing towards building a public transport system that is inclusive and responsive to the needs of all commuters. Efforts by SMRT to support this include:

  • The April 2021 launch of the Go-To SMRT initiative, which sees the transport operator enhancing its commuter services and facilities to better serve the community.
  • The certification of 17 MRT stations and five bus interchanges by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) as Dementia Go-To Points.
  • A first-in-Singapore trial of the NaviLens app to help visually handicapped commuters navigate the Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub with greater ease.

SMRT is also working with partner organisations such as AIC, Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, Guide Dogs Singapore and the Handicaps Welfare Association to provide more inclusive, commuter-centric services to these with special needs.

MAKING SUSTAINABILITY A KEY PART OF SMRT’S DNA

In the coming years, sustainability will become an increasingly important element in SMRT’s business and actions, and we will do so in an accountable, transparent and responsible way.

We take a multi-pronged approach towards this goal. While being environmentally friendly and aligned to the Singapore Green Plan 2030 is a key component, sustainability, to us, also means caring for our employees’ physical and mental well-being, as well as doing our part to foster a more gracious, caring and inclusive public transport culture.

The full SMRT Group Review 2021 report can be viewed here. Visit here for more on SMRT’s sustainability drive.