Baby-unfriendly SBS

Brought little man out with my mother yesterday.

As there was no cab in sight, we decided to take a bus to the nearest MRT station. Just then, a bus 52 came. I asked my mother to carry little man up the bus, while I managed the large diaper bag and a rather heavy Mclaren stroller. The stroller was opened so that I could push it all the from my unit to the bus-stop without having to carry it.

When I saw that the bus was not packed, I told my mother that we will board this bus, knowing that my stroller would cause inconvenience in a crowded bus. I waited for every one to board the bus before boarding. Somehow the stroller got stuck as I tried to close it. When I saw that I was the only one left behind, I started to board the bus with a barely half-closed stroller.

Then came a rather rude voice. It was the bus driver. He refused to let me board the bus without closing my stroller. I told him I couldn’t close the stroller and asked him to let me board the bus first. Not wanting to let the whole bus wait, I quickly boarded the bus, with my big diaper bag, a half-closed stroller, my card pouch and ez-link card.

After boarding the bus, I immediately moved to the vacant area designated for wheelchairs, and fully opened the stroller so that it can stand on its own, and I will have hands to properly keep the card in my card pouch, and eventually would be able to properly close the stroller.

Then I realised the bus is not moving. The bus driver turned back and gave me a hard stare and told me to close the stroller again.

I told him, I will close the stroller. I just needed a little time to keep my card in my bag before I can do so. And he just stared on and watched how I struggled with everything I was holding onto until I finally managed to close the stroller. He only started driving when he was finally satisfied to know that the stroller was closed.

By then, I was fuming and my entire face was red with embarrassment and anger.

I do not think I have done anything wrong to deserve such treatment. I tried my best to not be an inconvenience to other passengers, yet this very bus driver seemed to be out to make sure I inconvenience them. I felt that I was being “punished” for bringing a stroller onto a public transport.

If you know me, you would know that I am a rather petite person. Handling a mid-weight stroller and a big diaper bag is the not the easiest thing, especially when I also have to board the bus with a very unfriendly driver.

After I calmed down, I have so many thoughts and questions in my mind about what happened.

  1. How is it that an opened stroller, standing steadily on 4 locked wheels, more dangerous than a closed unstable stroller that still requires someone to carry?
  2. If such strollers are considered dangerous on bus, wouldn’t those metal marketing trolleys that old people always bring on bus be considered as dangerous as well?
  3. If closing the stroller is so important for the bus driver, and he saw that I am struggling with everything, shouldn’t he come down from his seat (since he is doing nothing anyway and just waiting with a disgusted face) and give his passenger some help, instead of half-shouting at me?
  4. From everything I have experience within that bus ride, I feel strongly that Singapore public transport, specifically SBS buses, do not welcome people with young children and strollers. Unfortunately, most of the time, these two will always come together because our young children need to nap. And they are often too heavy (like 13-kg) to be carried around while sleeping for 3 hours. If our government is so looking forward to having more head counts for the future generation, shouldn’t our public transportation company change their attitude towards these “unwelcome passengers”?
  5. Does it mean that unless I have the money to take a cab, I should not even consider bringing my toddler out (with his much-required stroller)?

Because I understand that not everyone can be understanding towards young children and their parents, I have tried not to be a nuisance whenever I can. However, it bothers me a lot when I receive such treatment that I do not think I deserve, especially when it comes from a public service company.

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