Barrier-Free Standards for MRT trains and WABs
Posted by Warren Chew on
In the Sunday Times article today (2 Oct 2016) titled "Open Prams on Buses", the author highlights the difficulties face by the parents of special needs children when boarding buses.
While it is good to see the LTA and bus operators becoming more sensitive to the needs of persons in wheelchairs, there continue to be a lack of standards being defined in the design of MRT trains and Wheelchair-Accessible Buses (WAB's).
For example, one of the problems is the width and height of the gap between the train and the platform. This has been a bane of motorized wheelchairs and mobility scooters for as long as MRT trains have been around in Singapore, because wheels keep getting stuck in the gap.
As for WAB's, while they are equipped with ramps, there is no maximum gradient or design requirement being prescribed to ensure that most mobility scooters or motorised wheelchairs in the market are able to use them without difficulty.
When transport operators think about wheelchair accessibility, they continue to view requirements through the narrow lens of standard wheelchairs used by most people, and in the process fail to recognize that the world of wheelchairs includes a much wider spectrum of equipment. This includes motorized wheelchairs, mobility scooters, high-back wheelchairs, and yes, in this case, pediatric wheelchairs.
I urge the LTA to look at this from a more holistic perspective, and prescribe a set of standards that all future MRT trains WABs must meet, similar to the good work that the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has done in making most of Singapore's buildings barrier-free.
Falcon Mobility Pte. Ltd.