Millions of commuters travel on our transportation network daily. Lot’s of us know the stations and interchanges so well that we breeze through them on auto-pilot, with eyes glued to our phones. Admit it, you and I are guilty of that once in a while. We’ve walked the same route for years and it has become second nature to us.
However, for passengers with disabilities, the daily commute can be a constant challenge.
For someone on a wheelchair, something as small as the 75mm gap between the train platform and the train can be an obstacle to overcome.
There are many accessibility features on both trains and bus networks to help narrow the metaphorical gap that passengers with disabilities experience daily.
MRT Train Stations
Barrier-free entrances and exits
In SMRT’s early days, passengers on wheelchairs would have trouble entering our stations as there were only staircases and escalators to reach the concourse levels. Today, all stations will have at least one entrance that passengers on wheelchairs can use.
The bars and bumps on the ground are known as tactile paving. They are there for the visually impaired, forming a path leading from platform to important places in the station, such as the fare gates. Have you also noticed that the tactile paving always leads to the wider fare gate?
Wider fare gates
Wider fare gates were introduced to allow wheelchairs to pass, as well as bulky items. These gates are bidirectional, making it more convenient for the passenger as they do not need to approach a Station Staff to help them turn the gate to a certain direction.
Wheelchair indicators and wheelchair-accessible train carriages
At the platform, passengers in wheelchairs should look out for the wheelchair indicators on the platform screen door or platform floor. These indicators reflect where the wheelchair spaces are on a wheelchair-accessible train carriage. There are two such spaces per train. Some trains also have the grab bar closest to the train doors removed, allowing passengers with wheelchairs or strollers to enter the train easily.
There are also visual indicators for the hearing impaired. The prominent flashing red lights above the platform screen doors indicate when the train doors are closing.
Special boarding and alighting berths
Special boarding berths at some interchanges were modified for passengers in wheelchairs. Wheelchair bound passengers who wish to board a certain service number can state so via a console at these berths. The next bus will swing by the berth to pick them up.
Passengers in wheelchairs indicate their intention to board a wheelchair accessible bus by pressing the blue button next to the exit doors, triggering a special alert to the Bus Captain. The Bus Captain will then deploy the ramp and help the passenger on board the bus.
Braille guidance on handrails
At the new Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange, there are “signs” in Braille on the handrails to help the visually impaired locate waiting areas.