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A dispute between a commuter and an SMRT bus captain allegedly arose due to a language barrier, but a witness has also offered a fresh perspective on the incident.
In a Facebook post on July 22 that has since been removed, Fareen Salauddin alleged that the bus captain operating service 969 had been unable to communicate the cost of bus fares for two children.
According to Salauddin, the kids, aged four and two, had to pay the bus fare because they exceeded the height limit. However, the driver reportedly could not convey in English how much their fares were.
It is unclear who was the passenger disputing the fare, however.
"If you can't speak English well... at least know the basics," wrote Salauddin, who also said that the "driver went on strike, did not want to continue the journey and all of us had to change to the next 969 bus".
Bus service 969 travels between Woodlands Temporary Interchange and Tampines Interchange, though it is unknown which part of the journey the incident happened.
Transport operator SMRT responded to the incident on its Facebook page yesterday (July 23).
It said: "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."
A netizen, Jian Wei, commented on SMRT's Facebook post and said he "would like to offer the other side of the story since I was on the bus and happened to witness the incident when it occurred".
He said, "As mentioned in the news report, it started off with a fare dispute between the father and the driver near Khatib.
"The driver mentioned that the kid had passed the height limit which entitles for a free ride and requested that he should make the payments. The father refused and insisted the driver communicate with him in English.
"Seeing the situation, one of the passengers actually offered to help translate what the bus driver is saying for the father, but the father told the passenger not to translate and it's the driver's job to communicate with him."
He then alighted the bus and hence, was unclear about what took place afterwards.