The simple things are free

“Fares for senior concession card holders will increase by one cent per journey. But concession hours for senior citizens will be extended to the full-day throughout the week. Their fares on the North East Line and Circle Line will also be adjusted downwards.” – (Channelnewsasia, on the public transport fare hike announced by the Public Transport Council – PTC – on 5 August 2011.)

While undoubtedly and understandably most Singaporeans will be disapppointed and even appalled at the PTC giving in to the public transport operators’ application for fares to be raised, I nonetheless applaud the PTC for extending concessionary fares to all hours throughout the week for elderly folks.

This is something which some have called for and which should have been done long ago. Still, better late than never.

Incidentally, the Workers’ Party had called for such concessions to be given to the elderly in its election manifesto. See here, under “Transport”.

Now that the elderly are able to travel at any time during the day and week, I would like to encourage younger and more able-bodied Singaporeans and commuters to give consideration to these older commuters if and when they should see them on the train or on the buses.

While some may say that elderly folks do not and may not travel at these “new times” simply because there are concessions, I have come across elderly folks who told me they would if there were concessions. In any case, many elderly folks work nowadays and indeed whether there are concessions or not, they would have to use public transport. This doesn’t take away from the necessity to show kindness and consideration towards them.

It would be easy – and depressing – to only and always highlight the occasions where younger commuters are inconsiderate and use these as proof that the general public is a selfish lot. It would instead be better if we could all do our little individual parts to show that it does not take a lot on our parts but it could mean a whole lot to the elderly. Especially those who have ailments or disability or who are physically weak and may not be able to withstand the crowds and long journeys.

Give up your seat if you see the elderly. Lend them a hand if they should be caught off-guard by the train’s sudden starts and stops. Ask if they need help if they’re carrying heavy items. Enquire after them if they should look tired or not so well.

These are small things we can do.

Just today, I witnessed 3 incidents which put a smile on my face and gladness in my heart. In the first two instances, two young commuters – one a lady and the other a guy – gave their seats up to two elderly folks the moment these folks entered the train. The third incident saw a young lady give up her seat to an elderly gentleman on the train to Chinatown station.

These are not the only incidences I have witnessed in the last few weeks.

Of course, there are the other less considerate younger commuters who would not bat an eyelid when they see those who would need the seats more. But I’d rather not focus on them but instead speak of the ones who – because of their kindness – are worth more of a mention than these.

Singapore is a furious-paced society. We walk so fast, always with a destination to reach, an appointment not to be late for. We have lots on our mind every moment of the day. It is at these times that we forget the little things, the simple things.

And these simple things are free. 😉

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