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Use public transport council to improve service in Penang

TRANSIT takes note of this article that expresses a dispute between the Komtar Assemblyperson and RapidPenang. TRANSIT wonders why an issue like this is not being handled by Penang’s Public Transport Council instead of being hashed out in public.

Service ‘not up to mark’


RAPID Penang is the only public bus company in the state practising the non-lease system but its standard is now no different from ones who lease the heavy vehicles.

Penang DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) secretary Ng Wei Aik has hit out at Rapid Penang for insisting on a price hike when the service provided was not up to mark.

“We conducted a survey revealing that 53.9% out of 76 passengers polled rated the service as ‘average’ while 10.5% were unhappy and a total of 60.5% said the buses would sometimes arrive late. [TRANSIT: We will try to get a copy of this survey.]

“Instead of taking this feedback to improve their service, Rapid Penang did not give serious attention to the matter and choose to instead to blame the lack of enforcement at the Komtar main bus interchange terminal,” he said, adding that the company was more interested in making a profit than offering a proper service. [TRANSIT: That is a stinging accusation and not in line with the spirit of working together. But are comments like this so unexpected?]

“Instead of improving the service, Rapid Penang is still insisting on increasing their fares despite unsatisfactory service that is no better than the pajak (lease) buses,” he said.

Ng, who is also Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary and Komtar assemblyman, added that enforcement at the Komtar interchange was under the purview of the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB).

“It is the CVLB that is responsible for addressing the problem of other private bus operators encroaching into Rapid Penang lanes. Blaming the encroachment for interrupting the time schedules of Rapid Penang’s other routes is baseless because many of those who participated in the survey were waiting for the bus at the Komtar interchange – not at other bus stops,” he said.

Ng however added that the state would do its part in improving the interchange facility soon. “The plot of land where the interchange is belongs to the Penang Municipal Council but the council has to apply for a court order to gazette the area for public use before it can manage the place.

“The council also needs to pay off the balance of money owed to the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) for building the infrastructure before we can improve the facility,” he said, adding that this was another problem “inherited” from the previous administration.

On Saturday, Rapid Penang Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad ticked off Dapsy for “barking up the wrong tree’’ and instead channel its efforts on tightening enforcement at the Komtar bus interchange to ensure the smooth running of buses there.

The company earlier said the new fares — between 40 sen and RM1, were in line with the Federal Government’s decision to raise bus fares.


Service not up to mark? What specific marks are you referring to, Mr. Ng? Has the vaunted Penang Public Transport Council got together and issued a set of KPI? Have they got together to comment on the fare increase by RapidPenang? Is RapidPenang even a member of the Public Transport Council? Were they invited to join?

Or is this commentary just limited to one person letting fly in the media?

Penang has implemented a system that is supposed to help make public transport operate better. The Penang Public Transport Council should be the final authority on all matters related to public transport in the state.

But it will not work well if you do not help it work – and that means that the 4 stakeholders (Government, Local Authority, Operators and Users) have to work together.

Repeat. Work together. Repeat. Work together.

So please, no more of this public anger and finger pointing. Convene a meeting of the public transport council and get to the bottom of it.

You have an avenue for change up in Penang. Use it.

See the editorial from the New Straits Times, below:

Take right path to better transport

INSTEAD of helping to solve some of the problems at the chaotic Komtar bus terminal, the state government has chosen to criticise RapidPenang for its services based on a random public poll.

The poll covered a mere 76 passengers, and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik, without any shame, admitted only 10.5 per cent were unhappy with RapidPenang’s services.

The issue arose following the company’s announcement of its intention to raise fares by between 40 sen and RM1, which its chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad had said was in line with the Federal Government’s decision to raise bus fares.

Ng, who is also Penang DAP Socialist Youth secretary, hit out at the company for insisting on a price hike while the service was allegedly not up to the mark.

His contention was that the buses were often late.

RapidPenang, Ng said, did not pay serious attention to the matter and was instead putting the blame on a lack of enforcement at the terminal.

Blaming RapidPenang when only seven out of 76 interviewees had claimed they were unhappy with its services is clearly unfair.

The opinions of the seven commuters did not warrant a public lashing against the company that is doing its best to serve the public by providing services on both the island and the mainland, plying rural areas which have never been serviced before.

RapidPenang was launched two years ago as part of a major overhaul of the state’s perennially ailing bus services.

It provides clean and comfortable air-conditioned buses.

Azhar, in response to Ng’s outburst, said the state government should instead focus its efforts on tightening enforcement at the interchange to ensure a smooth running of buses there. His concern is valid.

Surely, he can’t be faulted for ticking off Ng for barking up the wrong tree.

The shoddy and filthy Komtar bus terminal is chaotic and has been for years.

Buses line the area haphazardly, blocking the path of other road users; who knows when this situation will ever be resolved.

Azhar has reasons to defend his company.

Last year, he directed his buses to stop using the Komtar terminal following threats and harassment of his employees.

This includes cases of tontos threatening to beat up and pour acid on his RapidPenang drivers, and other bus drivers swiping the buses on the road.

More horrifying is the incident where a man placed a parang to the neck of a driver, who was told his hands would be chopped off for stopping at Komtar.

Unless and until these issues are resolved, it is best Ng makes full use of his authority to improve the public transport system in the state.

Double-parking along most of the narrow streets on the island and the way the hawkers ply their trade on both sides of the road speak of Penang’s sorry street scenes.

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