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Monday, May 25, 2009

Will soft approach work?

As graciousness campaign starts, some want penalties imposed

Zul Othman, zul@mediacorp.com.sg

A NEW graciousness campaign has been launched to get train commuters to give up their seats for the elderly and make way for alighting passengers. But given how some still refuse to do so, after years of gentle reminders, is it time to bring the stick — in the form of fines and penalties — into play?

Ms Jessie Tan, 28, definitely thinks so.

On her train trips home, she has seen seated commuters blatantly ignoring elderly passengers who are left standing for most of their journey. “I’m all for a fine system, it would make people think more about those around them,” said the executive.

Mr Donnie Jei, 33, thinks of penalties as a good deterrent but actual enforcement would be a problem.

“A lot of manpower would be needed. You’d have to hire inspectors, and spend money so they can catch people who don’t give their seats to little old ladies,” said the technician, who travels to work by train every day.

Asked if it would consider imposing penalties in future, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) declined to comment as it wants to pursue the public education aspect of the public education programme first.

The Public Transport Council-led initiative, ‘A Happy Journey Starts Like That!’ was kicked off on Saturday morning.

Signs for priority seating on MRT trains have been standardised — the new blue-and-white signs now indicate “Reserve Seating”, as a more forceful call for passengers to give up their seats to the needy.

New floor queue lines have also been installed at 11 MRT stations, with a green arrow for passengers exiting the trains, indicating that they have the right of way.

Images of television icons Phua Chu Kang and Rosie also appear on trains and buses, asking commuters to be gracious.

PTC chairman Gerard Ee is confident the campaign will be well received. Looking at the number of people blogging or posting online their complaints about commuter behaviour, he told 938LIVE: “People are more aware and beginning to say, ‘look, enough is enough, we want things to improve’.”

With a graciousness campaign like this, “you’re not accusing anybody of being the guilty party. You’re just saying ‘these are nice things to do, let’s just all do it, and then all of us can enjoy using the public transport system’.”

Programme service ambassadors — comprising staff and volunteers from the LTA, SBS Transit and SMRT — will be stationed at some MRT stations during the morning and evening rush hours to help commuters give way to those alighting.

From TODAYOnline.com, Voices, see the source article here.


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