This article caught the attention of TRANSIT as it discussed the recent forum on Sustainable Transport held by the Institute of Engineers Malaysia
Challenges of public transport
Sunday July 12, 2009
By BEH YUEN HUI and SYLVIA LOOI
PETALING JAYA: The Transport Ministry is taking measures to have 40% of the people use public transportation by 2012.
Currently, the figure stands at a mere 16%, said Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.
“The target may be too challenging but we have to do it to ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution.
Nice meeting you: Damai Disabled Persons Association treasurer A.S. Durai greeting Ong at the public forum on transportation in Petaling Jaya Saturday.
“To achieve this, numerous efforts, with the collaboration of the relevant agencies, have to be put in place, such as exploring alternative modes of transportation like rail transport,” he said.
Ong said that the railway service, a relatively friendly and less costly mode of transportation, should be one area to focus on.
“Sufficient allocation has to be given for the construction and upgrading of the infrastructure for rail transportation; including the light rail transit (LRT), commuter and monorail,’’ he said.
Allowing more than one operator and promoting healthy competition was another way to enhance this sector, he added.
Ong acknowledged that much more had to be done to raise public confidence in using public transportation. Another area to look into was the extension of LRT lines.
“This certainly is crucial in order for the LRT service to cover a wider area,’’ he said after opening a public forum on “Sustainable Public Transportation – Opportunities and Challen-ges” here yesterday.
Ong said cycling paths and pedestrian walkways could also be considered in the cities.
A committee comprising 13 ministries and agencies, including the Road Safety Department, Malaysian Institute of Road Safety and the police have been set up to look into the impact brought by development, he said.
The committee would meet next week.
The comments by Ong Tee Keat at the forum on Sustainable Transport reflect the ideas that he is looking at pursuing – privatization of the KTM Komuter service (which he has talked about a few times) and a few mentions of expanding LRT and some “first and last mile” considerations thrown in.
But what really strikes us as interesting is the focus on privatization. There is no way that KTMB would approve of another operator being brought in for the KTM Komuter service, or in competition with them. They will fight tooth and nail to keep things in-house.
What Ong should be looking at is finding ways to expand the KTM service and expand the LRT network (not just extending the lines) and improve the way the buses are run.
That would really work to creating a sustainable public transport system.