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SMRT to test commuter safety features

EXTRA CARE: SMRT said yesterday that it will set up "care zones" for passengers who feel unwell or have special needs.


    Sep 18, 2014

    SMRT to test commuter safety features

    SMRT has put passenger safety sharply in focus with a slew of pilot measures set to be introduced over the next few months.

    The train operator yesterday announced that it will set up "care zones" for passengers who feel unwell or have special needs, and such commuters 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 (CCTV) 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 using this feature.

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

    Their target audience? Commuters who have their eyes glued to their mobile devices.

    Every month, there are 15 reported incidences of passengers who trip, mostly because they are busy watching videos or messaging while on escalators.

    Alvin Kek, SMRT's vice-president of rail operations, said that that were some cases of women who trip when their long dresses get caught in the escalator.

    These announcements to remind commuters to watch where they are going are played at Simei and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations, and will be used 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 the mobile app, WhatsApp, for commuters to send photos of defects they spot in trains or at stations.

    Another will be tablets placed at passenger 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 the 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 round 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.

    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."