I asked the Minister for Transport this Parliamentary question on 8 September 2014 after speaking at length with a friend who is blind, who told me about the challenges visually-impaired Singaporeans face when navigating around our roads and public transport system. I think there is much more that we can do to make Singapore more accessible for people with disabilities.
AUDIBLE PEDESTRIAN SIGNALS AT ROAD CROSSINGS
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Transport (a) how many signalised pedestrian crossings are equipped with audible pedestrian signals (APS) for visually-impaired (VI) pedestrians and how many are not; (b) of those that are equipped with APS, how many operate on restricted hours at night and what are those hours; and (c) whether LTA can consider equipping all signalised pedestrian crossings with APS which operate 24 hours a day, if necessary with “on-demand” activation at night, so that all VI pedestrians can cross roads safely especially at night when there are fewer other pedestrians to assist them.
Mr Lui Tuck Yew (Minister for Transport): The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has installed audible pedestrian signals (APS) at 860 of about 6,000 signalised pedestrian crossings (see footnote below), based on requests from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) and from visually-impaired individuals.
LTA takes into consideration the needs of visually-impaired pedestrians as well as the impact on other stakeholders when setting the operational hours of the APS. Generally, the APS is activated from 7.00 am to 9.00 pm daily so that the audio signals do not adversely affect residents living nearby. In some cases, for example, at junctions near the SAVH premises, LTA has acceded to their request for the APS to commence earlier at 6.00 am and end later at 11.00 pm.
“On-demand” APS devices can potentially allow more APS to have longer operating hours. LTA is happy to explore this and other measures that can assist visually-impaired pedestrians to cross the road safely.