(Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)

SINGAPORE: It will be easier for the elderly and those with physical disabilities to get around Outram Park MRT station, with the introduction of two initiatives on Monday (Aug 14) by the Public Transport Council (PTC) in collaboration with SBS Transit, SMRT and Singapore General Hospital (SGH). 

Under the initiatives, two spots within the MRT station have been designated as Heart Zones, where elderly, frail or blind patients can seek help to get to SGH. The zones are located at the concourse and level one of the MRT station. 

Fellow commuters, including SGH staff on their way to work, may voluntarily meet patients at the two zones to show them where to board the shuttle bus to the hospital, or help them with directions to various buildings in the SGH Campus. 

The project is a “meaningful partnership” which gives SGH staff the opportunity to help patients outside of the hospital, said SGH CEO Professor Kenneth Kwek. 

A second initiative aimed at helping commuters move around Outram Park MRT station was also launched on Monday.

The trial, named Heartwheels, will see wheelchairs being provided at both ends of the linkway between the East-West Line and North-East Line at the station.

The two lines are connected via a 210m pedestrian linkway, which may be a challenging distance to walk for elderly commuters or those with physical difficulties, the PTC said. Fellow commuters may extend a helping hand by pushing the wheelchair users along the linkway.

Parking zones for the Heartwheels trial. (Photo: Loh Chuan Junn) 

PTC chairman Richard Magnus said the new initiatives offered opportunities for people to connect and bring out the best in themselves.

“Commuters told PTC they wished they knew how to help others. Our elderly, frail and blind commuters told us how they would like to receive assistance and support. We want to build a culture where commuters care for one another in simple ways which make a big positive difference,” Mr Magnus said. 

The Land Transport Authority said last year that it plans to make public transport facilities more user-friendly and accessible for commuters. Initiatives launched so far include allowing open strollers on public buses, as well as a trial to test a stroller restraint system.

The Heart Zone and Heartwheels trials will be held until Sep 15. The Heart Zone initiative will be held on weekdays between 7.30am and 9.30am, while the Heartwheels project will be available throughout the station’s operational hours.

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