Feeling unwell? Wait in blue box for train

PHOTO: Feeling unwell? Wait in blue box for train

SINGAPORE - Special attention will be paid to the safety of passengers over the next few months with train operator SMRT setting up "Care Zones" and reminding passengers to pay attention when using escalators.

Passengers who feel unwell or have special needs may wait at specially marked blue boxes on train platforms so that station staff can keep an extra eye on them through close-circuit television cameras.

There will also be emergency telephones placed near the zones. SMRT will pilot this at 13 stations for a start, with Tanjong Pagar, Orchard, City Hall and Kent Ridge already having this feature.

SMRT is also rolling out safety announcements for those taking escalators - telling them to mind their step and hold on to the handrails.

Their target audience? Commuters who have their eyes glued to their mobile devices. Every month there are 15 reported incidents of passengers who trip, mostly because they are busy watching videos or messaging while on the escalator.

Mr Alvin Kek, SMRT's vice-president of rail operations, said there are also some women who trip when their long dresses get caught in the escalator.

These announcements are played at Simei and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations, and will be aired at eight other stations, including City Hall, Jurong East and Orchard.

Yesterday, SMRT also said it will try out two new feedback channels. One will be through mobile app WhatsApp for commuters to send photos of defects they spot in trains or at stations. Another will be tablets placed at service centres of 22 MRT stations for commuters to leave comments.

Mr Kek said these four initiatives, along with three others that started in July, will be piloted till the end of this year, before SMRT decides whether to implement them across the entire network.

The earlier measures include priority queues, mobile device charging stations and "care stickers" to identify commuters with special needs.

Some of these initiatives are used in rail systems around the world. For example, safety announcements for escalator use are played in Hong Kong, while Taiwan has specially marked platform areas for women, along with women-only carriages.

Madam H. Suan, 64, a retiree, said about the announcements: "It's a very good idea, but I don't know whether the passengers will hear them, since I see many of them using their earphones with their mobile devices."

Four pilot measures

- Care Zones: Thirteen MRT stations will have blue boxes painted on train platforms for passengers with special needs to stand in. Station staff will monitor these zones through closed-circuit television cameras and there will also be emergency telephones nearby.

- Escalator safety announcements: Announcements to tell passengers to mind their step and hold on to the handrails at 10 stations.

- E-feedback system: Tablets will be provided at the passenger service centres of 22 stations which commuters can use to leave feedback.

- Snap and report: Passengers may send photos of defects at stations or on trains to 9788-4398 via messaging app WhatsApp.


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