Smoother ride for people with guide dogs now
BLIND people who rely on guide dogs to get around are finding public transport more convenient in recent months, thanks to moves by transport operators.
While guide dogs have been allowed on SMRT trains from as early as 1987, with SBS Transit following suit in 2005, some are saying the increased support from transport operators has made travelling smoother.
One measure by SMRT which helps clarify that guide dogs are allowed on buses is the display of new signs in its buses. The signs read: "No pets except guide dogs". This is in contrast to signs at train stations that read: "No pets, no animals".
An SMRT spokesman told My Paper that the new signs were introduced "recently", and that the company "facilitates access" for visually impaired passengers with guide dogs to its buses, trains and taxis.
Cassandra Chiu, client services manager at the Guide Dogs Association of the Blind, said that she has noticed the new signs on SMRT buses since June last year.
The 36-year-old said that members of the association have found public transport a lot smoother in the last 12 to 18 months.
"The Land Transport Authority (LTA), SMRT and SBS have been working closely with the association to improve transport conditions for the disabled," Ms Chiu said.
She understands that bus drivers and MRT staff from SBS have been explaining to commuters why guide dogs are allowed on public transport.
Tammy Tan, senior vice-president of corporate communications at SBS Transit, said that signs on board SBS buses inform commuters that animals are not allowed on buses and trains, due to hygiene and religious reasons.
However, SBS allows guide dogs accompanying visually handicapped commuters on board its public transport.
"In addition, our bus captains, as well as station staff are briefed and trained to render them assistance if required," Ms Tan said.
Freelance writer and motivational speaker Lim Lee Lee, who is visually impaired, has also noticed an improvement in the ease of travelling with her guide dog Nice in recent years.
"I have no problem taking public transport with Nice," said the 47-year-old.
Ms Lim was invited by LTA to give suggestions on how to improve bus services for the disabled at a feedback session in January.
She suggested introducing announcements on buses to indicate the next bus stop, much like existing train announcements.
A spokesman for LTA said the organisation holds regular feedback sessions with commuters.
She added that LTA would study the feasibility of the suggestions raised by Ms Lim and implement them where possible.
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