Helping Hand Scheme, from the UK to Singapore – Andy Thompson
Go Ahead Singapore has played a pivotal part in the roll out of a scheme for passengers with accessibility needs called the Helping Hand Scheme across the country’s bus and rail operations. after its successful trials and following a commendation by Singapore’s Land Transport Authority.
The scheme which was initially born in the coastal town of Brighton by Go-Ahead’s bus operating company - Brighton and Hove Buses, is an award-winning assistance card scheme which will give bus passengers in Singapore the opportunity to ask for assistance discreetly and directly.
We first trialled the yellow assistance card with messages such as ‘May I have a seat please?’ ‘This is a wheelchair’ and ‘Alert me when I am approaching my stop’ on feeder bus services from Pasir Ris Bus Interchange in 2020.
The driver is immediately made aware of the customer's needs or requirements without the customer having to verbally communicate it. It has particularly been useful for people with hidden disabilities.
After this successful trial, and following a commendation by Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, the scheme is to be extended across the public transport network. A launch event was held on the 12th May inviting Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Ministry of Transport, and Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Sustainability, and the Environment & Ministry of Transport to support the launch.
The use of the Helping Hand Scheme has previously been successfully implemented across all Go-Ahead’s bus operators in the UK, and even adopted by taxi operators, local councils, and in other settings, like shops and entertainment venues.
This is the benefit of being part of a global transport company, it means we can share knowledge and learn from our bus companies. We are proud to have launched this scheme in Singapore today, along with other public transport operators with the Land Transport Authority’s approval.
Brighton and Hove Buses worked closely with local community groups including Guide Dogs, Action on Hearing Loss, the Grace Eyre Foundation and Possability People to make sure the card was practical, and met the needs of users, including those with non-visible impairments.