Fine for sweets? NO Fine for seats? MAYBE
July 28, 2009
READERS WRITE IN
The New Paper has received a flood of e-mail messages from readers about the behaviour of commuters on public transport in Singapore, many of them sent following two reports in Saturday’s edition of the paper.
One of the reports was about a woman who was fined after eating a sweet on the MRT. She said she was feeling giddy.
SMRT said passengers who need to take anything for health reasons should approach station staff for assistance.
It was also reported that those who do not give up seats to the disabled or the elderly can be fined or even jailed in New York.
Readers had a variety of reactions. Here is a selection.
Be flexible with sick commuters
GENERALLY, eating and drinking on trains should not be encouraged as it can invite pests.
However, some flexibility should be exercised when dealing with commuters who have chronic illnesses or who are sick.
Many elderly folks suffer from diabetes and if their sugar level is low, a sweet or a soft drink will have to be taken immediately to prevent the sufferer from fainting.
In serious cases, diabetic patients can even go into a coma if their sugar levels are too low. SMRT should not be so heavy-handed in dealing with such cases.
Public education programmes to promote graciousness on public transport is much better than imposing fines or jail sentences on commuters who refuse to give up their seats for those who need it most. But much more can be done to get commuters to act graciously when taking public transport.
Instead of always ‘catching’ people doing the wrong things, why not ‘catch’ them doing the right things?
Role model scheme
I propose that the Land Transport Authority in collaboration with SMRT and SBS Transit introduce a ‘Role Model Commuters’ scheme in which gracious commuters are rewarded when they willingly offer their seats to the elderly, pregnant women and the disabled and help them to alight and get off the buses and trains.
Offer these role models sponsored prizes or free travel on public transport for a specific period and place their pictures at MRT stations and bus interchanges.
I have every confidence that the message of behaving graciously on public transport will gradually sink in.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO
YES, everyone can use the same excuse and say they are feeling giddy and need something to curb it, but so what – it’s just a sweet.
There are those who eat and even leave trash behind. Why not fine them instead? Why fine someone who just eats a small sweet?
As for giving up seats. I must say some Singaporeans are just plain inconsiderate and rude.
Once my father, mother and I took a train from Sengkang. During the ride, my mother felt giddy and she badly needed a seat. No one bothered to offer her one. They just looked on. We had to alight at Boon Keng station and wait for her to feel better.
My grandparents are old but often they are the ones who give up their seats for even older people. We need to teach young people to do the right thing.
Even PCK can’t teach ’em
AS IN New York, commuters who don’t give up their seats for the elderly or the disabled should be jailed or fined.
Every morning when I am on my way to work, even when elderly or pregnant women are standing in front of them, I see others occupying the reserved seats.
Often those in seats further away have to get up and squeeze their way out for such women to sit.
Even the latest Phua Chu Kang advertisement does not seem to have had an effect. I find it difficult to even alight from the train.
It’s good that there are SMRT officers to help commuters alight.
So I wouldn’t blame the authorities if Singaporeans are slapped with fines for such behaviour on public transport.
SHEREE ANN JAMES ROZARIO
Issue warning first
WHILE this issue may be dealt with by various means, it is my belief that a warning should first be issued before any fines are imposed on commuters.
I feel that more discomfort is created for passengers (especially those on long journeys) who are not allowed to consume even a sip of water rather than any annoyance that may arise from someone accidentally spilling water while on board.
Such rules and regulations serve only to strain resources because they require staff to enforce them and monitor the fines.
SMRT said: ‘Passengers who need to take medication… may approach our station staff for assistance.’
I find it impractical that permission has to be sought before taking medication.
During peak hours, mobility is highly restricted in the trains. How is a passenger to communicate his need? Through the emergency response button?
It may be better for SMRT to crack down on those who refuse to give up priority seats.
After a hard day’s work, something as innocent as popping a sweet into the mouth should never be an offence.
MRT staff can help lead needy to seats
I FEEL that fining passengers who do not give up their seats to those in need may not work well.
Since we have our MRT staff patrolling the trains, they can play their part by assisting the elderly, pregnant women and the handicapped to the nearest reserved seats by asking those occupying the seats to vacate them.
Of course, the staff must do this in a courteous manner. This will also help to educate our commuters about doing the right thing.