‘I’m agile,’ says 71-year-old woman told to sit on lower level by double-decker bus driver
For the last three years, retired civil servant Julia d’Silva has sat on the upper deck of a Tower Transit bus during her daily journey from Clementi to the city.
On Friday, however, the 71-year-old was told by the service 106 bus driver to find a seat on the lower deck instead.
It was only after Ms d’Silva told him that she has been sitting at the upper deck for years that the bus driver let her go up to the deck – where she likes to sit and read during the ride.
In a Facebook post on Friday, she said the bus driver told her that he had to tell senior citizens not to sit on the upper deck for their safety because it was a “company directive”.
“I should have told him I was going to the gym to lift weights!” she added.
Apart from hitting the gym twice a week, she also heads into town to visit places like libraries and museums, she added.
In response to queries, a Tower Transit spokesman said the operator has always encouraged “vulnerable passengers” to sit on the lower deck, but efforts have “become more concerted over time as the population ages”.
He added that Tower Transit bus drivers encourage seniors, pregnant women and people with mobility challenges to stay seated while the bus is moving, and to take seats on the lower deck so that they do not fall as they go up and down the stairs.
“We’ve always done it, but we’re putting out more reminders these days,” he said.
The move is part of efforts by public transport operators to reduce accidents on buses.
Transport operator SBS Transit’s spokeswoman Grace Wu said it also encourages elderly commuters to sit on the lower deck as part of its “Travel Safe” campaign that was launched just before the Covid-19 pandemic.
It now organises monthly roadshows at bus interchanges to promote the message, along with other good travel habits.
“Passenger safety is of the utmost importance to us,” she added.
Though Ms d’Silva was “puzzled and amused” by Friday’s incident, she said she appreciates how transport operators are looking out for seniors.
“It’s good to protect frail seniors,” she said. However, not all older folk should be viewed as frail and weak, she added.
Ms d’Silva has been hitting the gym to do weight training and pilates for more than 10 years.
She said: “I’m agile. I don’t feel 71.
“I’m very careful too. I hold the railings and make sure the bus is at a standstill before I go down.
“When I’m holding heavy bags, I stay (on the lower deck).”
Her one quibble, she added, is that bus drivers sometimes move off before passengers are seated.
In the end, passengers are free to sit wherever they wish, said the Tower Transit spokesman.
“Our hope is that the bus captain’s show of concern would make them more aware of the need to be careful,” he added.