The countries all over the world have designated priority seats in their public transport system. Usually, these priority seats are for the elders, the disabled and pregnant women. These seats can be found in mass transit subway trains, buses and trams. As if they prove the high level of living standards, the idea of priority seats was first introduced in the northern Europe. Afterwards, this idea was adopted by Asian countries, such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In this article, problems related to the priority seats specially allocated for “pregnant women” in public transport system will be discussed.
People have different opinion about the priority seats assigned for the pregnant women in the public transportation. Some people argue that this is just courtesy, and other claims that this is the obligation of the state. To clarify, allowing priority seats for pregnant women is the responsibility of the developed country, since they have enough resources to contemplate issues that society faced against.
There used to be a controversy whether we have to leave the seats vacant all the time or when we witness pregnancy. Regarding Seoul subways, there are only two seats for pregnant women in every carriage. In general, most of the people who are not pregnant, use these seats and they do not care. Also, complaints about other people using priority seats have been increasing every year. According to a report documented in 2017, six thousands of record complains were received in November about other passengers using priority seats. In a pregnant women interview by the Korean Population Health and Welfare Association (KPHW), about 60 percent of them reported that other passengers gave up their seat for the pregnant while the others ignored them. As reported, once the Seoul Metro increased the announcement to keep seats vacant for pregnant women, consequently, other passengers complained “Why do we have to keep the seats unoccupied? We can give up the seats when a pregnant women get on the subways.”
Moreover, to make their seats noticed easily, Seoul Metro colored the seats in pink since 2015. In addition, it is required through a special announcement to keep free those allocated seats while travelling in subways. On those priority seats it is written “The seats for tomorrow’s hero.” Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, October 10th is the day celebrated as a “Pregnant women day” in Korea. Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit (SMRT) also celebrated this day every year and organized different events inside and near various subway stations between 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. These events reflect the reality that many women are suffering on subways. The Busan transport authorities launched a system to handle this issue on optimum way, in which a device is handed to pregnant women that has a Bluetooth system called “beacon.” When pregnant women reach two meters near the seat, pink color illuminates because of a sensor which is connected to that device. As a result, other passengers could give away their seats.
Considering all of the discussion, this is the duty of the government to install such type of seats for pregnant women in their transportation system because, they should protect the health and well-being of their citizens. According to my opinion, the special seats for pregnant women should be kept vacant always and should not be occupied. This is because the number of pink seat is almost negligible as compared to all seats in a carriage. However, some people think that these should be occupied by other people, unless they find a pregnant women. However, it is not the realistic way, since in the early stage of pregnancy, it is very difficult to identify gestation.
Izaz Rouf IzazRouf@gmail.com
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