Caring subway services highlight increasing consideration for elderly
Published: May 09, 2024 09:04 PM
An elderly woman walks past magnolia flowers at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York, the United States, on April 14, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

An elderly woman walks past magnolia flowers at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York, the United States, on April 14, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

A heartwarming scene unfolded recently on a subway train in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, earning thumbs-up nationwide.

Seated inside a subway train, a senior citizen was reportedly seen checking a slip of paper detailing a transfer route, which read: "This is Nanjing South Station. You can take Line 3 to Taifeng Station, then transfer to Line S8 to reach Changlu Station."

"This is truly a blessing for elderly people who find it difficult to figure out a subway route using a smart phone. What a thoughtful and passenger-friendly move, one netizen said after seeing the report. 

This is one of the public services offered by the Nanjing South Station. While open to everyone, it mainly targets elderly people who have trouble navigating smart phones to gain information. When asked by passengers seeking directions, staff members stationed at entry points write down transfer instructions on a small sheet of paper.

The small sheet of paper not only demonstrates a commitment to improve the quality of life and happiness of the elderly but also contributes to the sustainable development of cities. 

The thoughtful and pragmatic initiative is a microcosm of public service. Instead of a big-money renovation project, focusing on practical needs and addressing small details can lead to a more profound impact on citizens.

As we transition into an aging society, offering elderly care services is essential for promoting social equity, maintaining the health and well-being of seniors, and addressing the complex challenges associated with the aging population.

Providing adequate care for the elderly is a fundamental aspect of a compassionate and responsible society. It reflects a commitment to supporting the well-being and dignity of all citizens, regardless of age.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, by the end of 2023, China's population aged 60 and above had reached nearly 297 million people, accounting for 21.1 percent of the total population. This suggests that roughly one out of every five people is a senior citizen. 

The data indicates that China has entered an aging society, prompting increasing discussions about upgrading services and optimizing public facilities to adapt to the needs of seniors.

The slips of paper have helped over 20,000 people since its inception, according to Niu Yue, a staff member with the station. Another "rainbow-colored guide note" also covers the entire route map of the Nanjing subway.

After categorizing the frequently asked about routes and locations, the staff printed quick instruction notes in different colors and began providing them at the service desk, making it easy for passengers to quickly find the information they need.

In line with the thinking that seniors should not be left behind in our rapidly advancing society, similar thoughtful initiatives have been seen in many cities across the country.

Instruction notes are available at subways in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, and many other cities. 

In 2023, the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission rolled out a basket of elderly care services to improve the overall commuting experience for seniors. 

To tackle the issue of elderly individuals who may not be familiar with using mobile apps to hail taxis, over 700 car-hailing digital devices have been installed across 16 districts in Shanghai. Seniors are able to hail a taxi by typing in their phone number or scanning their face. 

Adapting public infrastructure to accommodate the needs of the elderly is one of the key initiatives for enhancing quality of life and showing care for the elderly in our cities. It is not only a shared responsibility of families and communities but also a significant mission for society as a whole.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.