Opening Remarks by Minister for Transport, Mr S Iswaran for the Caring SG Commuters Event

16 Jun 2022Speeches
Members of the Caring SG Commuters Committee, 
Caring Commuter Award Winners and Champions,
Family of the late Mr Richard Magnus,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.     Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us today.

Fostering a caring commuting culture

2.     Public transport is an indispensable part of our city’s infrastructure and our daily lives.  It connects our homes with our jobs, schools, amenities, friends and loved ones.  As a shared experience, it also connects us with one another.

3.     At the heart of a good public transport system is inclusiveness.  No matter their backgrounds, ages, and abilities, commuters must enjoy a seamless and comfortable trip on our public transport system. 

4.     As the public transport network expands, the Government has made infrastructural and asset-related investments to support this vision of inclusiveness.  For example, all buses in Singapore are wheelchair accessible and have stroller restraint devices installed.  All transport nodes are barrier free.  All new train stations and bus interchanges will be equipped with the Hearing Enhancement System at the Passenger Service Centre to enable sounds to be transmitted more clearly to commuters wearing hearing aids.

5.     But inclusiveness is not just about infrastructure and assets.  It is also about people.  That is why we have also worked with public transport operators and the community to ensure that commuters who need help can receive it quickly.  Let me cite three examples.

6.     First, we now have 11 Heart Zones, where commuters can lend a helping hand to other commuters who may need assistance.

7.     Second, we are progressively listing all public transport nodes as Dementia Go-To-Points, where commuters and trained staff can help reunite those living with dementia with their caregivers.

8.     Third, the “May I Have a Seat Please” initiative offers commuters with invisible conditions a way to alert other commuters that they need a seat.  

9.     These initiatives underscore the point that an inclusive public transport system depends on every one of us.  We can spare a thought for our fellow commuters, give up our seats, and offer to help those who may need assistance.

Tribute to Mr Richard Magnus

10.    Let me now turn to someone who was a big champion of this.  Mr Richard Magnus was someone who always sought to make our public transport system more inclusive.  I had the honour of knowing and working with him over the decades.  He was always bringing people together to watch out for one another.  

11.    Richard was the first Chairperson of the Caring SG Commuters Committee.   During his two-year tenure, Richard led the Committee to engage various stakeholders, culminating in the launch of the “Our Caring Commuting Journey” Report at Caring Commuter Week last November.  

12.    In addition to improving infrastructure and facilitating help, the Report recognised that an inclusive public transport system required a caring commuter culture.  It suggested four caring behaviours we could adopt to make public transport more inclusive: Give Time, Give Care, Give a Hand, and Give Thanks.  Underlying these are values of care and graciousness that Richard himself embodied.

13.    The Public Transport Council (PTC), under Richard’s leadership and in response to commuters’ suggestions, launched the Caring Commuter Award in 2019.  The Award recognises commuters who have demonstrated acts of care to others in need during their commute.  One Outstanding Award and four Commendation Awards are given out every year. 

14.    To honour Richard’s contributions, I am pleased to announce that the Outstanding Caring Commuter Award will be renamed the “Richard Magnus Award for the Outstanding Caring Commuter”.  I hope the award serves as an inspiration for commuters to epitomise Richard’s ethos of care, and lean forward to help fellow commuters in need – just as our Caring Commuter Award winners have done.  I am very keen to hear more of your experiences and stories later.

Looking to the future

15.    Last month, we appointed a new Chairperson for the Caring SG Commuters Committee – Ms Janet Ang.  Janet is concurrently Chairperson of the PTC.  She is also a Caring Commuter Champion.

16.    These Champions undergo a training programme to bridge the knowledge gap on how to assist commuters, including the elderly or persons with disabilities.  Training sessions are conducted online, either via a virtual session with SG Enable, or via bite-sized e-Learning modules that can be completed at your convenience. 

17.    To date, more than 1,000 have signed up as Caring Commuter Champions, inspiring other commuters with their involvement and exemplary behaviour.  I would like to share my appreciation to Champions who have joined us here today, for your passion and motivation in helping fellow commuters. 

18.    Although it has been less than two months since her appointment, Janet has already joined 12 NUS students at the inaugural NUS CARE Workshop.  The Workshop participants learnt about etiquette to interact with people who have accessibility needs, and practised this by taking part in the Public Bus Inclusivity Course.  

19.    I have every confidence that she will continue Richard’s fine legacy, with her staunch commitment to build an inclusive public transport system.

Acknowledging our partners 

20.    Today’s event would not have been possible without our friends in SG Enable and their support.  I would like to thank them for their close partnership with us as they shared their expertise on inclusiveness and helped us apply it to public transport.  They have also kindly hosted us here today.  I look forward to their sharing on the integrated assistive technologies later.

21.    As we grow our public transport network, it is essential that we continue to ensure that it is of high quality, sustainable, and importantly, inclusive – befitting our future generations and future Singapore.  On behalf of the Committee, I welcome suggestions and ground-up initiatives to make our public transport system more inclusive through the Caring SG Commuters Portal.  Our vision can only be realised with the Committee, community, and commuters working together.

22.    Thank you.

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