Caring Commuting Culture Through The Eyes Of Public Transport Workers

Jan 22, 2021, 11:10 AM

22 Jan 2021

Title : Caring Commuting Culture Through The Eyes Of Public Transport Workers
Abstract : Bus captain Then Arasu and customer service officer Dorothy Tay share about caring acts that they have encountered, and the importance of a caring commuting culture.


Introducing Dorothy and Arasu


There are no acts of care and kindness that are too small.


In this article, we invited Customer Service Officer Dorothy Tay and Bus Captain Then Arasu to share encouraging observations they have made during their work, as well as their thoughts on the importance of a caring commuting culture.

“Every day, every trip, I run into something new,” Arasu shared. “Everyone’s situation is different, so as captains we must offer compassion and help however we can.”


To Dorothy and Arasu, the importance of a caring commuting culture went wtihout saying, because they witnessed commuters facing challenges every day in their line of work.



Everyday Challenges Commuters Face


“There is a sizable population of elderly and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) who use Punggol Bus Interchange,” explained Dorothy.


“Many wheelchair users experience motion sickness when travelling. Those with unique mobility devices, invisible health conditions or special needs may also encounter difficulties. Similarly, certain parents with certain types of strollers, find difficulty to board the bus too.”


For Arasu, his tenure as a bus captain opened his eyes to aspects of commuting that may not be readily apparent from a passenger viewpoint.


“If a senior citizen, pregnant lady or passenger carrying heavy items boards the bus, I always notice them, and make sure they are properly seated before we start moving.


I often also rely on the passengers to extend care to one another,” he added.


Energised By Acts Of Care


In fact, both emphasised commuter-to-commuter care as the foremost element in a caring commuting culture.  Even with national initiatives such as the Helping Hand Cards and LTA seat stickers, the main catalyst of commuting care remained the mindset and efforts of the community.


It is individuals and groups that took the initiative to extend a helping hand on public transport, that in turn inspired others to do the same.




Anyone Can Take Action And Show Acts Of Care


Arasu shared that thankfully, such examples were common occurrence, and came from almost anyone. One recent incident stood out to him. 


“An auntie told a group of students to ‘don’t run inside the bus, because then the bus uncle cannot start driving. If you fall down or get injured, it will also affect everyone else.’


This showed that she understood my feelings the same way I tried to understand theirs,” he explained.

Dorothy’s work at the Punggol Bus Interchange’s Lost and Found office also garnered memorable instances of care.  She said:


“There was a young man in office wear who helped a lady with a stroller to alight the bus. I’ve also seen instances where an elderly woman was assisted with her heavy trolley of groceries,” she relates. “Once, someone brought a wallet to Lost and Found. When the owner picked it up, he was touched by the honesty of the stranger who returned it.


It moved me because I felt it showed that Singaporeans actually value honesty more than the monetary value of items.”


Caring Commuting During COVID-19


With COVID-19 altering our daily habits, commuting is no exception. In such difficult times, greater awareness and care has become even more critical.


Dorothy feels that “it’s quite heartwarming to see commuters reminding each other not to talk too loudly or on the phone.”


While Arasu has reminded commuters to abide by safe distancing measures and wear masks, he was even offered masks!


“I have a commuter who asked me: ‘Bus captain, do you have enough masks?’ She offered me masks and I felt it was very kind of her,” Arasu said.


Witnessing these caring acts impressed upon each of them the positive impact that commuters and staff alike can make on their daily journeys.


What can you do to contribute?


“Public transport is a shared space, and if we can ensure that everyone has a pleasant and safe journey home, why shouldn’t we make it happen?” shared Arasu.


“Especially in difficult times, a little act of kindness will brighten up someone’s day,” added Dorothy.


“If everybody does their part to pay kindness forward on public transport, it will make a difference to our whole commuting experience in Singapore.”