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“Bus Captains do attend English classes” – SMRT apologises for driver who went on strike after being unable to communicate in English

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SMRT has apologised to all affected passengers for the inconveniences they faced when the bus driver of bus 969 refused to drive after two young children below the age of 7 were forced to pay the bus fare and the driver was unable to tell the children or their guardian how much the bus fare was in English.

One of the passengers, Fareen Salaudin shared on Facebook that all the passengers had to exit the bus and board the next bus because of the driver’s strike. The driver is believed to be a Chinese national.

Although her post has since been removed, SMRT has gone on record on the social networking website to assure commuters that they are looking into the matter.

The organisation asserted that their drivers do attend English language classes, before appealing to commuters to help drivers if they experience communication difficulties.

“Some of you may have come across the post of an SMRT Bus Captain refusing to continue the operation of bus service 969 over a fare disagreement with a passenger due to communication difficulties.
“We would like to assure the public that we take such feedback very seriously and we are currently looking into this matter.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused to all affected passengers.
“We would also like to reassure that our Bus Captains do attend classes to improve their ability to understand and converse in English. They are also encouraged to seek help from other passengers if they do encounter communication difficulties. So please help where you can. Thank you.”
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Some of you may have come across the post of an SMRT Bus Captain refusing to continue the operation of bus service 969…

Posted by SMRT on Sunday, 23 July 2017

SMRT did not comment on possibly revising its child bus fare model, which many netizens called on the organisation to look into following the incident, as the children who were forced to pay a fare were only two and four years old.

Children under the age of 7, below the height of 0.9m do not have to pay any bus fare, while children of the same age between the height of 0.9m and 1.2m have to pay a student bus fare if they do not have a child concession card.

Children who are below the age of 7 but are above the height of 1.2m are required to pay an adult bus fare if they do not have a child concession card.

Fareen claimed that at least one of the children who was asked to pay a fare was only 0.86m, slightly below the height a which the child is required to pay a fare.

She had written on her page:

“If you can’t speak English well… at least know the basics. You can’t come to our country & expect us to speak your language. Brainless. And as for you SMRT.. Number 1, please send your FOREIGN drivers for a basic English Speaking course to interact with passengers who can’t speak in Chinese. Number 2, please revise your “Child Bus Fare” requirements.. now year 2017 going 2018 already.. All children below 7 years are tall already.. So please uh..Last pic is one of the 3 kids that have to pay for the bus fare.. as measured, she is only 86cm.”

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