SINGAPORE — Bus operators and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) are exploring the use of various restraint systems for strollers to be secured on buses without folding up these baby carriages, and the authority is expected to join hands with institutes of higher learning to develop prototypes of such systems and test them on buses.
Right now, unfolded strollers are disallowed on public buses because they can be a safety hazard to the child and other passengers when the driver applies the emergency brakes. Parents and caregivers must fold the strollers before they are taken on board and this often means carrying their child in their arms during commutes.
In May, LTA had approached the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science on a possible collaboration. The school told TODAY: “Some of our students have expressed strong interest and enthusiasm to be involved in the project and the school will support them in developing their prototypes.”
An LTA spokesperson said that in most countries where unfolded strollers are allowed on buses, the onus was on parents to keep the strollers secure.
In Sweden, for example, public buses are fitted with safety straps hanging from a low horizontal handrail in an allotted space, to allow parents to fasten their babies’ strollers with these straps to prevent them from rolling away.
The review, announced by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan last Monday (July 11) in a written parliamentary reply, will see the LTA study areas such as the safety of children in strollers and of other commuters on buses.
It will also look into space requirements for all passengers, especially wheelchair-users.
By 2020, all public buses are set to be wheelchair-accessible, which means they will be equipped with features such as ramps to enable easy access. The roll-out of wheelchair-accessible features is also expected to ease the movement of open strollers in and out of buses as well as within them.
As of end-May last year, new buses fitted with ramps made up about 85 per cent of the public bus fleet.
A new generation of three-door buses unveiled in March — and expected to hit the roads from the end of 2018 — will also have more space for wheelchairs, strollers and passengers with bulky items, among others. Wheelchairs and strollers will occupy a shared space on buses.
While parents who spoke to TODAY welcomed the review and the prospect of taking open strollers on buses, they also raised questions about the viability of the idea, including navigating crowded aisles during peak hours.
Social worker Hannah Neo, 35, a mother-of-three, was concerned about how parents go about securing their strollers and whether these restraint devices would be maintained regularly. The number of strollers allowed on board each bus must also be ironed out, she said. “In Sengkang or Punggol, where… there are many parents with young children, how many strollers would be allowed to be safe enough for all (passengers)?” she asked.
Stall assistant Ng Jia Hao, 25, who finds it inconvenient to take buses with his two-year-old daughter, suggested that signs must be put up in all buses to mark out spaces meant for strollers. Mr Mr Ng added that parents would also have to contend with the expectations of fellow commuters, who may “make a big fuss” over extra space occupied by the strollers.
With large crowds expected during peak hours, Madam Hu Shuling, 33, said this may deter her from taking an open stroller on buses even if it is allowed. “You probably won’t even be able to get up the bus ... because there’re too many people,” the housewife said.