RapidKL issued a memo dated 23 May 2007 to organisations of disabled persons to inform them of the bus operator’s new policy for the Handicap Concession Travel Card (HCTC). The following is an excerpt of the memo signed by RapidKL Corporate Communications Division Senior Manager Katherine Chew:
In our new policy, all card holders of Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat under the following categories are eligible for RapidKL Handicap Concessionary Travel Card (HCTC).
– Applicable only for those without limbs.
Benefit includes 50% discount only.
While I do not dispute the prerogative of RapidKL to give out these cards or revoke them at their discretion, I am most dissatisfied with the discriminatory policy to exclude other forms of impairment in the physically handicapped category eligible for the HCTC. What is the basis in denying physically disabled persons with limbs the HCTC? It seems like RapidKL apart from being a transport operator is trying to play doctor too.
If RapidKL is really sincere in providing discounted fares to disabled persons, it should give out the benefit to all disabled persons across the board irrespective of impairment. I am truly disappointed that the nine months of RapidKL working with the Barrier-Free Environment And Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) on accessible buses has come to naught.
It was a mistake to think that RapidKL took one step forward in being a sensitive and caring public transport operator when it announced the addition of non-step buses into its fleet to cater to the needs of wheelchair users. With this new policy, it has taken ten steps backwards.
UPDATE – 11:45 pm:
Katherine Chew clarified this issue during a meeting with BEAT just now. The offending clause was supposed to eliminate abuse of the HCTC by persons with temporary mobility impairments. Disabled persons with permanent physical impairments will still be eligible for the HCTC subject to submitting relevant documents and passing an interview conducted by the Corporate Communications Division. RapidKL should phrase such circulars concisely to prevent misunderstandings in the future.