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Bus interchange rolls out free buggy rides and more

Carolyn Khew on 13 Mar 2016

The Straits Times


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Woodlands facility unveils features to shorten waiting time and help people with disabilities


To help those who find it hard to walk long distances, the Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange is offering free rides on electric buggies - becoming the first bus interchange here to provide such rides.


After all, it is one of the longest bus interchanges here, at 0.5km.


There will be two electric buggies, which can each seat four people including a driver, to ferry commuters around.


The rides were among the features unveiled at the temporary bus facility's first day of operations yesterday.


It will be in service until 2019, while the Woodlands Regional Interchange undergoes upgrading and an underpass is built to link the upgraded interchange with the stations of two MRT lines.


As a temporary bus interchange, it also boasts various features, including those that shorten bus waiting times or improve accessibility for those with disabilities.


Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan, who is also an MP for Sembawang GRC, toured the bus interchange yesterday with grassroots advisers from Sembawang and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRCs.


Mr Tan Kian Heong, vice-president of SMRT Buses, which runs the temporary bus interchange, said efforts have been taken to ensure a smooth transition for commuters from the permanent interchange to the temporary one.


"Although the relocation is temporary, we aim to provide our commuters and staff with the service standards found in a fully operational, permanent bus interchange," he added.


Buses from the Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange make about 400,000 passenger trips a day.


The bus interchange has display panels and sensors to help bus drivers find unoccupied parking bays and available alighting berths more easily. This will minimise the time spent looking for these spaces, saving time for the drivers.


To reduce passengers' waiting time, cameras have also been installed so that interchange staff can monitor queues and ease the crowds by deploying more buses or those with more room, such as double-decker buses.


There are also features that will benefit people with disabilities.


These include pedestrian ramps that link the interchange to Woodlands MRT station, making it easier for people using wheelchairs to get around.


Handrails also have Braille guidance to help passengers with visual disabilities locate the waiting areas.


Mr Vikram Nair, MP for Sembawang GRC, said the features were introduced in response to feedback from residents.


"I'm optimistic about it," he said. "The old Woodlands interchange was very stuffy but this new one is more open, and there is more space for commuters to queue for buses."


Mr Tea Chap Chek, a 70-year-old Woodlands resident, said he would give the electric buggy a try.


"Such features are good. It is quite far to walk from one end of the interchange to another," said the retiree.



Two four-seater electric buggies to operate daily from 7am to 11pm to help commuters who require assistance to get to bus berths at the extreme ends of the interchange



Braille guides on handrails to help the visually disabled



Wheelchair ramps to link the interchange to the MRT station



Priority queues and reserved seating



System which includes sensors and display panels to provide information on available alighting berths and parking bays



Interactive panel for passengers to check bus routes, updates on community events or even look for a job on a jobs portal



Air-conditioned staff lounge for bus captains and staff



Closed-circuit television cameras to help staff monitor bus queues


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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