Compassion will overcome objections to having open strollers on buses
by Daniel Yap
IT’S been a bit of a day of thanks and accomplishment for me, when Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng announced in Parliament this morning that open strollers would be allowed on buses from Apr 2. I’ve been campaigning for this change for years, alongside other parents and groups like Young NTUC.
As soon as news broke of the new rule, a mixed response of praise for the decision and anger over it erupted online. Critics of the move cited a variety of reasons, which deserve a response.
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- Lack of space: strollers don’t fit in the door/aisles, and some are bigger than others
Response: The idea is for strollers to board buses the way wheelchair users do. They aren’t meant to go down the narrow aisles. The Ministry has said that bus captains will make the final call on when strollers have to be folded to make space for others.
- Fear of abuse
Response: Inconsiderate people are a feature of life but their existence doesn’t mean that the rule is a bad one. Call inconsiderate parents out and ask them (nicely) not to abuse the system. Support others who are publicly calling out anti-social behaviour.
- Demand for segregation
Response: The whole reason why this rule is being changed is so that parents can feel more integrated into society. It takes compassion and maturity to welcome and cater to others whose needs differ from our own.
- In my day…
Response: Parents have suffered in the past, but we need to see that it is a good thing that they should no longer suffer needlessly. If a new rule comes along that benefits others, we should be compassionate and be happy for them.
- It is unsafe
Response: Bus companies used to cite safety reasons for forbidding open strollers, but there is no solid data to back this up, or explain why other cities in Europe, North America and Japan allow it. Perhaps the status quo was from a time before wheelchair-accessible buses, but times have changed.
It’s heartening to see the change that you fought hard for come to fruition, and to know that it points towards a more inclusive, more family-friendly future for Singapore. And it’s good to see compassion and thankfulness reign in the online comments, even though there will always be a few who disagree.
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