By : Adie Suri Zulkefli(NST)
Free WiFi on Rapid buses2009/02/16BUTTERWORTH: Bus commuters will get another value-added service in June when RapidPenang introduces a free WiFi wireless Internet connection come June.
The possibility of Internet connection while commuting is expected to encourage more people to opt for public transport.
RapidPenang, which began its operations here in 2007, will be the first stage bus company to offer such a service.
Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the WiFi service would be available in all RapidPenang buses by the second quarter of this year.
Nor Mohamed said among other value-added services soon to be introduced by the company were the identification of RapidPenang buses location via SMS and an electronic ticketing payment system.
“With these value added services, RapidPenang has confirmed its status as an efficient public transport operator in the state,” he said after launching the RapidPenang Pekan Darat-Penang Central route here yesterday.
Present was RapidPenang chairman Tan Sri Izuddin Dali and its chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad.
The Route 605 travels from Pekan Darat to the temporary Penang Sentral in Butterworth with a maximum fare of RM1.50 for a single trip.
RapidPenang commuters can now get an update on the location of the buses, which are fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) by calling its intelligent commuter information system.
Nor Mohamed said RapidPenang would be plying 14 new routes by the year-end with the arrival of 200 new buses.
The company is servicing 35 routes in both mainland Seberang Prai and the island with a fleet of 180 buses.
With the additional fleet, the company is projecting its number of commuters to increase to 40,000 daily from 12,000.
Being a non-profit driven stage bus operator, Nor Mohamed said the company would continue to invest in upgrading its core service and value-added services for commuters.
“The company is expected to break even within three years, but its immediate concern now is to encourage more commuters to use the public transport system,” he added.
People do not want to take buses because the service is often poor. In addition, there are social aspects – safety, security, convenience, and economic aspects – people may think that using the bus is “for the lower-income group” because these people are the ones who are more likely to use the service.
Instead of improving the basic services, planners and marketers come up with interesting solution – like GPS tracking, LCD televisions, free Wifi, power points and tables, bill payment, and other gimmicks that will make the ride more “appealing” to the passengers.
But what really appeals to the passengers is reliable, frequent, quick and comfortable service. Unfortunately, this requires more drivers and technicians and staff and more buses. In a competitive business environment this is not very profitable for the bus operator – so most operators do not engage is serious service improvements.
TRANSIT appreciates the efforts of RapidPenang in improving the “secondary features” of their services – their efforts are far greater than RapidKL’s efforts to date.
However, we wish to state that a balance has to be struck – improvements in the features must be built upon the basics of service.
For this reason, TRANSIT calls on RapidKL and RapidPenang to publicly proclaim their “State of Good Service” the requirements that they need to offer the service that most passengers want.
We welcome your comments below.