Travelling with a baby in a stroller or even carrier can be a disaster if Mum is unprepared or not expecting how situations pertaining to rush hour and the behaviour of commuters is likely to turn out. It can potentially spoil the entire day with an unpleasant situation.
With some experience travelling on the MRT with J for routine check-ups to the hospital, to his former nanny’s and now to his school, here are some observations and tips regarding travelling on public transport that I would like to share with all young parents.
1) The morning peak period is the worst time of the day to travel.
If you need to travel with Baby at this unearthly time of the day, be mentally prepared to see a lot of professionals who are rushing to work. They have little patience for a Mummy trying to push her Baby around in a stroller. Maintain a cool stance about it and not try to rush with the crowd. What these professionals have in mind is to get to work in time and they cannot afford to miss the incoming train.
2) Use the lifts, don’t try to ‘geh kiang‘ (meaning, to pretend to act smart, in Chinese dialect) with the rest of the commuters and go down the escalator with a stroller.
With the very nature of commuters being impatient, there are many who would sprint down the escalator to catch the train (or simply sprint down when the train is just 2 minutes away). In doing so, there is a chance that they might hit against the stroller you are trying to balance whilst going down the escalator. This might result in an accident if the stroller is not able to balance well, thus risking the safety of Baby. Though lifts might be situated right at the end of the station, and will take more time to get there, it pays to play safe. Well, at least, we know that Baby will be safe. That is why there are lifts installed at stations.
3) Before boarding the train, if you remember which train door leads you to the nearest lift, be sure to move your stroller there so that you will exit the train with the lift right in front of you.
This is an important move because it will get you to the lift faster than the other commuters who are intending to use the lift. Strollers, like wheelchairs, take up more space than an individual, so you need to make allowance for that extra space needed. If you are situated far from the lift, chances are that you will need to move the stroller against the exiting crowd coming out from all other exits of the train before reaching the lift. By that time, the lift would have came and left.
4) When waiting for the lift at the train platform, leave space for the passengers to come out of the lift.
Simple logic… If you do not give them space to come out, how would you be able to go in?
5) While waiting for the lift at the train platform, wait on the side of the platform where the trains are not approaching yet.
I realise that this is important for the safety of the Baby because especially when the lift doors open, and when this coincides with the train doors opening, the passengers in the lift will dash out and run into the trains. It sure looks scary and I learnt the lesson not to wait with J on the side where the train is approaching for fear that we would be knocked into.
6) Never quarrel with another commuter who is rude or impatient.
Remember that Baby is watching your moves and you would not want to spoil his day nor end up being argumentative like you. Instead, if there is a necessity to assert, do so firmly and get your point across without shouting or uttering vulgarities.
7) Help other Mums with young children and commuters on their wheelchairs to make travelling on the MRT a better experience.
Look out for each other and help where needed. It isn’t easy to commute in a populated country but making the experience more tolerable and bearable can be a mindset that we adopt.
8) When in the train, stand with the stroller near where the doors are.
This makes it easier for you to exit and not lag behind commuters who take their own sweet time to ‘gey lek‘ (meaning, to move slowly, as if dancing away, in Malay)