Bus Driver Refuses To Let Boy With Autism Board Vehicle Without Mask, SBS Transit Apologises To Family

SBS Transit Driver Insists For Boy With Autism To Wear A Mask Before Boarding Bus

Rules and regulations are in place to accommodate those with special needs who may require additional attention. When these go ignored in public spaces, caregivers can understandably grow frustrated.

This was the case recently when an SBS Transit driver refused to let a boy with autism board his bus without a mask.

SBS Transit has since apologised to the boy and his family for the incident.

SBS Transit driver refuses to let boy with autism board bus without mask

The boy’s mother posted details of the incident to Complaint Singapore on Facebook on 7 Jan.

Source: Complaint Singapore on Facebook

At 12 years of age, her son has autism and is non-verbal. On the day of the incident, she boarded bus 76 with him and her husband near Ang Mo Kio Central at around 7.40pm.

Upon boarding, the OP showed the driver her son’s special needs card. She also explained that as he was autistic, he did not need to wear a mask while on public transport.

However, the driver reportedly refused to start his vehicle, insisting he put on a mask.

She then pointed out that of all the buses she took, every single one allowed them to board while her son was without a mask.

The driver responded that he was just following the standard operating procedure (SOP) and would have to call SBS Transit’s headquarters to check.

Driver calls SBS Transit call centre for help, passengers grow impatient

The OP told him to make it quick as she did not want to take up too much of the other passengers’ time. In addition, she apologised to them for the wait.

“I also told him that I will lodge a feedback on this issue, and he challenged me to go ahead,” she said.

While she was waiting, a middle-aged man offered her a mask.

The OP declined the offer, stating that she already had masks in her bag. Furthermore, her son would have a meltdown if one was forced on him.

“The guy seemed pissed and walked away,” she continued. “I’m quite pressured with glares from the passengers as the bus driver refused to start the bus.”

Ultimately, the call took too long, and the OP chose to alight from the bus with her husband and son, opting to board another bus.

“This is the first time such an unfortunate incident happened as we have met really awesome drivers previously,” the OP lamented. “We tried calling the SBS Transit call centre for help, but there’s nobody answering the call.”

She also urged for more awareness from the general public on those with special needs. “It is not easy to be a caregiver of special needs. We hope to be treated fairly with due respect too.”

According to the Ministry of Health guidelines, authorities will exercise flexibility in enforcing mask-wearing for some groups, including children with special needs.

SBS Transit apologises for incident

In response to MS News’ queries, Mrs Grace Wu, SBS Transit’s vice-president (special grade) of customer experience and communications, expressed an apology to the OP’s family for the incident.

She explained that as mask-wearing on public transport is mandatory, the bus captain wanted to be sure and sought clarification from SBS Transit’s Operations Control Centre (OCC) before continuing with the journey.

Unfortunately, the OP and her family alighted from the bus before OCC could respond affirmatively.

“We will remind our bus captain of the guidelines so that he can better manage such situations in the future.”

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Featured image adapted from Bus Interchange.

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