Article: 2 Prototype Accessible Buses arrive in Penang

TRANSIT took note of this article which describes the prototypes of Rapid Penang’s accessible bus fleet. 200 of these buses, (most of which are Scania K-Series models – similar to buses operated by SBS Transit in Singapore) are expected to arrive in the next few months.

TRANSIT has spoken to Scania, the provider of the bus, and hopes to have more information about the buses posted to the website very soon.

The Star Metro North – Wednesday May 6, 2009
Ring the bell
By CHRISTINA CHIN, Photos by WAN MOHIZAN WAN HUSSEIN

PENANG can soon boast having a disabled-friendly bus system as Rapid Penang’s new fleet of 200 buses will be just that – disabled-friendly!

There are currently two prototypes plying the streets for the past month, and more are arriving in stages from Sweden.

“So far, the response we’ve received for the two that are currently running has been positive. We will continue to work closely with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the state to cater to the disabled community’s needs,” said Rapid Penang chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad.

The prototypes are equipped with seat belts, special bells, ramps and a hydraulic system that can lower the bus by 50mm before the ramp is extended out users to board the bus

Image of RapidPg Prototype bus courtesy of The Star - as you can see the ramp is located at the rear door
Image of RapidPg Prototype bus courtesy of The Star - as you can see the ramp is located at the rear door

TRANSIT says:

We have spoken to Scania and given feedback on Accessible Buses…including the failures of the bus design that is used in KL (you can see detailed comments here on Peter Tan’s blog).

It is good to hear that RapidPenang is working to overcome the weaknesses and the challenges that the bus system has faced. However, it has taken far too long and this is totally unfair to the accessible community. You can see more comments from Peter Tan here.

I actually believe RapidPenang (not 100% mind you) that they have taken this time to do things right. However, much more will have to be done.

After all, what good is a wheelchair accessible bus without wheelchair accessible bus stops … or wheelchair accessible streets, buildings and communities? And, what good is all of these if the bus cannot get to the bus stop because someone is using it as a shop, a place of business, or a parking area.

“Our bus captains were all trained by University Sains Malaysia on how to assist these special passengers. There is a special button outside the bus for the wheelchair-bound to press when they want to get on,” he told StarMetro in an interview.

Image of bell on the outside of the bus - Courtesy of the Star
Image of bell on the outside of the bus - Courtesy of the Star

A bell is located outside the bus is specially for wheelchair users. At the sound of the special chime, the bus captain will come down and assist the disabled passenger up the bus.

TRANSIT says:

Technology is a funny thing – having it makes us more confident but we must never forget that there is a need for accountability as well. If RapidPenang bus drivers are not accountable, it does not matter where the bells and whistles [on the buses] are.

Accessibility is also a funny thing. Yes, they are building ramps – but that is only one part of accessibility and universal design. How do they plan to meet the needs of the visually-impaired? The hearing impaired? Others?

For more information, please see some of the following links which Peter Tan posted to his website:

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