I love going out with my 3 kids. On most weekends, we bring our good old pram along. The pram serves us very well.
It is for the baby to sit on.
It is for the baby to sleep in.
It relieves us from the heavy diaper bag, water bottles, music lessons bags, shopping bags, etc.
It is for the older kids to sit on when there are no available seats on the train.
But the very thing about this pram is:it is an unwelcome thing on a bus.
I have travelled many times alone with my 3 kids plus a pram fully loaded with bags.
I sling on my baby, make sure my 2 elder kids got up the bus safely and ensure that they tap their fare cards, while I push the pram full of bags up the bus, moving up clumsily with the baby in front, dish out my fare card to tap the machine.
In Singapore, for some weird logic which I’ll explain later, prams have to be folded for “safety” to other passengers. But if I am alone with 3 kids, it’s almost impossible to unload the bags on the floor, fold the pram all the while with a baby slinged in front of me. It is even impossible to ensure “safety” of myself and my baby if I had to hold on to the folded pram, fear for the bags of rolling off all over the floor when the bus makes a turn or sudden stop. So, I usually risk being shooed off the bus by bus driver and just push the pram up the bus and quickly take a place at the wheelchair space to park my pram, and lock it. Because I was worried about how the driver may insist on the pram to be folded, I stood with my baby in sling, lean against a high padded support and hold on to my pram tight. To me, this is really safe since I was able to lock the pram, hold on to the railing with one hand and hold on to the pram with the other. I could not leave the pram alone.
Today, I was travelling with my husband and 3 kids plus a super loaded pram.
This was one of the unlucky days where we met a bus driver who refused to start the bus because he wanted us to fold the pram. We only needed to travel 2 bus-stops. We told the driver since it’s only 2 bus-stops, the hassle of folding the pram, putting down all the loose bags on the floor and in less than 5 minutes, we had to open up the pram, load back all the bags again, was simply not necessary. His reason was this is LTA’s (Land Transport Authority) regulations for fear of the pram bumping into other passengers and hurting anyone. The whole bus was full of passengers. It was 9pm. Everyone was tired. My kids were tired, Kel and I were tired, all the passengers were tired too. We all wanted a fast ride home. But here the driver went by the book, could easily achieve his fame for following strictly to LTA’s rule. He refused to start the bus.
I was totally unconvinced of “safety” being the reason of folding up the pram. So, I told him that if he insisted on the pram being folded, he would have to unload our stuff and fold the pram for us. He would have to open up the pram and load the things for us too when we reached 2 stops later. He walked to my husband, and when my husband tried to explain to him that it was not necessary to do this and how it would be more dangerous, he treated his explanation as an uncooperative gesture and walked back to radio the office to complain us. Someone came from the office, walked to us and apologized, mumbling this is LTAs’s rule and in the end did help us fold the pram. And she ensured that the driver would help us put up the pram again when we reached our destination.
The whole saga left us with the same lousy feeling which we had before. We had nothing against the driver who was following RULES. We just did not understand the logic behind this. On the brochure of child safety, it was stated:
Are prams/strollers allowed on board the bus?
Yes, they are but they must be folded up when travelling on our buses for safety reasons. In an emergency braking situation, opened prams can pose as safety hazards to both the child within and fellow passengers around as it can be thrown forward. As passenger safety is important to us, we do not allow opened prams/strollers on board our buses.
READ: “….safety hazards to both the CHILD WITHIN and fellow passengers around as it can be THROWN FORWARD”
Number 1: My child is NOT within the pram.
Number 2: The possibility of an open pram, locked in its wheels and held on tightly by our hands, being thrown forward, is certainly way way lower than a folded pram lying on the floor with loose bags around it.
Singapore government wants us to have more kids. The government encourages us to take public transport. Kel and I did that dutifully. But we were slapped with such inconvenience and to us, is hazardous, of having the need to fold up a pram and leaving the loose bags on the floor all for the reason of “safety”? How safe can this be? If the bus makes a turn or sudden stop, wouldn’t all the loose bags plus the pram be jerked out of place and the probability of hurting other passengers be much higher? Kel was with me today. But if I were to travel alone with the kids and pram, who is going to help me look after the folded pram and bags to ensure they do not pose as a hazard to others? When a pram is fully opened, its wheels can be locked to prevent it from moving. But when a pram is folded, it has to lie on the floor together with many bags, they would be out of sight from other passengers and someone might step on them and fall. While all these happen, you have to remember I have 2 young kids to look after their safety on a moving bus, while my baby is all the while slinged onto my chest. What safety are you talking about here? Whose safety?
Do you think it’s possible to heed the government’s call for a fourth child? My first concern is we had better had a car. How can you take a public transport alone with 4 kids + a pram or even double pram? You may say just take a cab. Well, even a normal sedan will have problem accommodating 4 car seats plus 2 adults, if going by the compulsory law of strapping a kid to a car seat. So how shall a family of 6 take a cab, especially with rules that 1 adult + 4 kids is the maximum that a cab can take. Which means a family of 6 has to hail 2 cabs and it is extremely difficult to get one cab nowadays in Singapore, let alone catching 2 cabs! If you have tried to hail a cab on a Saturday morning 1030am, you will know what I mean. We have encountered so many times that once Kel hailed a cab, it pulled up and left the moment I appeared with my kids who were all the while hiding under some shade a distance away. The driver probably thought that we had too many of us and not willing to take us in his cab.
So the solution to this is:
If you want to have 3 or more kids, you had better be a rich person who can afford the exorbitant price of a car or rather MPV (for those who do not know Singapore’s famous Certificate of Entitlement, one sedan easily costs SGD120,000).
If not, you had better not have so many kids and you are welcomed to take the public transport but still the pram needs to be folded for all the inconvenience and “safety” reasons.
A cab probably can solve this with lesser kids but I was hoping there will be some concession for parents with young kids in tow to take cabs. If I have the money to take a cab everywhere I go, I might as well get a car.
Or better still, mothers should probably stay at home and not bring so many kids out since public transport does not welcome kids and strollers.
This issue with folding prams on buses is an old story put on replay again and again. Occasionally, parents complain and bus transport company or the Land Transport Authority explains with unconvincing reasons. It probably needs one incident whereby a mum or her children get hurt because the mum is busy folding up the prams on a moving bus and fail to take care of her children’s safety before serious solutions will be made. Until then, we can only rant in our blogs and complain to the forum in the main papers with at most a courtesy reply with totally no solutions.
Give me any day, I will do whatever I think is “safety” for my children! I will continue to push an open pram up the bus!
Do you have bad experience with open prams on public transport? How do you bring your kids out if you do not have a car?