“Going by their postings, netizens were generally encouraged by Mr. Lui’s online overtures” (Lui Responds To Feedback, Grouses On FaceBook, Mr. Christopher Tan).
Mr. Lui Tuck Yew’s appointment as Minister of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) comes at a time when public transportation is undergoing significant infrastructural developments: train lines lengthened, bus and train trips more frequent, stations and interchanges more efficient et cetera. Positively, these hardware enhancements have been complemented by heightened ‘heartware’ connection displayed by Minister Lui; particularly in the social media front as expounded in the news article “Lui Responds To Feedback, Grouses on FaceBook” (June 7, 2011) by Mr. Christopher Tan.
Naturally, beyond the recurrent, tricky problem of rush-hour overcrowding, the increased levels of engagement would have made Minister Lui more cognisant of the challenges in accessibility and inclusiveness. Calls for subsidies for the disabled and polytechnic students are valid and beneficial. Even though the service providers ultimately determine the details of various concessions, the MOT has the potential to craft policies that strike equilibrium between the public interest and the firms’ aim to maximise profits.
Besides the subsidies, more can also be done for the convenience and comfort of the elderly or disabled passengers. First and foremost, it is virtually impossible for the aforementioned groups of people to board trains during rush-hours, given their physical impediments or limitations; therefore, specially-designed carriages can be designated – near elevators or escalators – for their daily commute.
Second, the rise in the sheer number of bus and train services, train stations as well as network have made the entire public transportation system more wide-reaching and functional; unfortunately, its corresponding complexity and combinations have made it more confusing for older or English-illiterate individuals. The MOT can work more closely with community partners – from voluntary welfare organisations to community interests groups – to devise quick-and-easy methodologies for trip planning or journey management. Third, vis-à-vis discussions or interactions after first-hand scheduled trips with stakeholders can be introduced, or enhanced – if such measures are already in place – to solicit comments or constructive criticisms. In essence, the strategies are aimed at speedily reducing the barriers to entry for these groups to take public transportation; which can only be done with greater sensitivity by the bureaucrats and officers.
Above all, it will be virtually impossible – and rather unfeasible – for Minister Lui to keep up with the virtual interactions on FaceBook on a long-term basis. As a result of these considerations, it is then important for his administrators to make feedback platforms more efficient and sustainable, for the continued benefit of all commuters.