Dear Ministry of Transport,
I understand that opened strollers or prams with children sitting in them are not allowed on buses in Singapore. I am writing this as a mother of two to ask you to consider making an exception to buses that are wheelchair accessible.
This is me traveling on a wheelchair accessible bus with my 16 month old son. On my right, I have two bags. When I boarded the bus, I had to take my more-than-10kg son out of the stroller, fold the stroller, and carry my son, the stroller and the bags I have with me.
When I got on, a kind lady gave up her seat for me and I sat next to an elderly man. Although I was on the aisle side of the two-seater, I had to try and pull my folded stroller in as much as possible so that I won’t block the aisle where other passengers need to pass. This would not be a problem if I didn’t have to balance my toddler on my lap and my bags on my shoulder.
When the elderly man beside me reached his stop, I had to struggle again and pull the folded stroller out of his way so that he could get out of his seat, all the while balancing my toddler and my bags.
I understand the reason that opened strollers are not allowed on buses is that strollers can obstruct other passengers as they move up and down the aisle. However, a lot of buses are wheelchair accessible now. There is space in these buses that are allocated for wheelchairs and the wheelchairs get on and off using a ramp.
Most of the time, the wheelchair allocated space is taken by standing passengers instead. While this is happening, parents like me are struggling with our folded strollers and balancing our children and bags.
I understand that in the event that the bus driver has to jam the brakes on the bus, children sitting in opened strollers might be in danger. But if we are allowed to use the space allocated for wheelchairs, we can move the strollers into a safer space than the aisle and put the strollers’ brakes on. It is the same way wheelchair users will put their brakes on when they are in the bus.
When I have to struggle and balance my child, the folded stroller and my bags in a bus, both my child and I are equally in danger if the bus driver suddenly jams the bus brakes because I may not be able to hold on to everything.
I have two children and while I usually take a taxi if I have to take public transport with both of them, taxi is not always an option for parents. There are families who take buses for every trip they make when they go out because taxi rides are a luxury.
This is the empty seat next to me after the elderly man alighted from the bus. I would love to give the seat to whoever boards the bus and wants to sit down. However, no one took the seat. I would like to think that it is because they saw my child on my lap, my bags on my shoulder and the folded stroller that is blocking the access to the seat.
I couldn’t move in to the window seat because I couldn’t squeeze the stroller in with my legs at the space in front of the seat. At the same time, I needed the aisle seat because it would be easier for me to move to the exit with my child in my arms, my bags on my shoulder and the folded stroller in my hand.
I am making this request not because I want to fight for space on a bus with passengers who are in wheelchairs. I am making this request because a folded stroller on a bus does not make the bus ride safer. In fact, it is more dangerous for parents who have to carry the child and balance the stroller on top of everything else we have to carry. I am also not requesting that strollers should be allowed on all buses because some buses have very narrow aisles.
I am requesting that opened strollers be allowed on wheelchair accessible buses so that parents who travel on buses with their young child do not have to perform a balancing act and put everyone on the bus in danger.
Please consider the points I have made and make it possible for us take our children on safer bus rides.
Perhaps a good reference to consider would be a city like London, where they allow two strollers on board each time, and priority still goes to those who are in wheelchairs. This way, the wheelchair accessible bus does not end up overloaded with strollers.