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RM200m needed for Kuching CAT

TRANSIT took note of this article in the Borneo post, in which Abang Johari, Minister of Local Government and Urban Development, commented on plans to improve public transport in Kuching with new buses and improved technology.

RM200m needed for modern city transport: Abg Jo (Borneo Post)

January 28, 2010, Thursday

MODERN BUS SERVICES: Johari displaying the proposed ‘Bus Priority System’ which integrates computerised traffic lights, electronic information boards, dedicated bus lanes and pollution free buses with GPS and electronic ticketing. — Photo by Jeffery Mostapa Borneo Post

KUCHING: The state government will request between RM150 and RM200 million to improve and modernise the bus services in the city.

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said if he could raise the fund, the city’s public transport would certainly be transformed.

“Public transportation is one of our National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) and it is envisaged that within five years time Kuching will not only enjoy modern bus services but also an integrated public transport system when the land transport is linked with the water taxis” he said during press conference after being briefed by Sarawak Transport and Co Association (STC), Traffic Committee and Commercial Vehicle and Licensing Board (LPKP)

“Our aim is to start with 50 new public buses through partnership with private operators. The cost of these modern buses will be between RM750,000 and RM1 million. Therefore, it may not be financially feasible for private operators to revamp the bus operations on their own due to the lack of funds and high costs of operation,” he said.

He added that the fund would be used to improve the public transportation infrastructure, integrating modern technologies such as electronic tickets and Global Positioning System (GPS).

The implementation would not only benefit locals and stakeholders, but most importantly it will also boost tourism into the city, he said.

According to Johari there are currently 101 registered buses in Kuching and 13 per cent of the city’s population depends on public transportation and 85 per cent passengers depending on buses.

“Because of the poor bus transport services, people are increasingly turning to private mode of transport. If this trend continues, the public transport’s mode share will be reduced to 10 per cent in the year 2020,” he said.

Johari explained that the trend would affect the viability of buses as public transportation which in turn will cause traffic congestion, high carbon emission and pollution.

He said that with the city’s population current annual average growth rate put at 3.3 per cent, the city’s projected population would reach about 700,000 by the year 2020.

“Right now the average speed during morning and evening peak hours is about 20km per hour. We are concerned that unrestrained traffic volume growth will result in intolerable congestion levels that will reduce the average speed to 10km per hour by the year 2020,” he added.

According to Johari, motor vehicle registration has been growing at the rate of approximately 6.2 per cent per annum and the figures have now reached 200,000 cars and 195,000 motorcycles, with average car ownership at 0.8 car per household.
The implementation of the new buses would help limit carbon emissions and pollution enough to meet Malaysia’s commitment to reduce carbon emission by 40 per cent in the year 2025.

Johari said that the buses would also cater to the elderly and handicapped and there would be bus lanes and bus stops equipped with electronic information boards to ensure timely arrivals and departures.

He added that a new route system connecting the city centre to the suburbs would be implemented.

“Kuching Central will be the main hub connecting to a series of sub-hubs in the suburbs, to encourage the park-and-ride system that will help reduce entry of private vehicles into the city centre,” he said.


Kuching is the 4th largest city in Malaysia and would definitely benefit from an investment in public transport.

And the proposal that Abang Johari is probably referring to is the recent City Area Transit (CAT) proposal for bus-rapid transit in Kuching which was introduced in October 2009.

The CAT Bus-Rapid Transit proposal adds Kuching to the number of cities in Malaysia that have suddenly become realistic and started to embrace Bus-Rapid Transit.

Now, we at TRANSIT are not wedded to a particular form of public transport technology — yes, we have said this before but it bears repeating — but we can see the possibilities and advantages of Bus Rapid Transit in terms of its lower capital costs and faster implementation time.

So we are happy to see that Kuching has joined the list. Next up may be Ipoh, Melaka and Kota Kinabalu. Will they start to fall into place soon?

But overall what matters most is real change in the way public transport operates. Yes, we are changing the laws, moving to a service-based model, investing more money, looking at realistic solutions…but if the public are not included in the planning and the oversight of these public transport services, then nothing will really have changed for the public transport user.

We will still be taking the public transport system that is given to us…without the chance to make it any better.

14 replies on “RM200m needed for Kuching CAT”

It is good to see such a nice proposal. However, is the CAT System for Kuching already implemented? Look at Abg Johari, holding a pix of the modern bus services for kuching city…huh that’s awesome if real. Hope to see those signboards turn to electronic information. Really hope to see changes to the public transport in kuching.

The issue of KUching public transport system has never come to an end, i meant put into implementation and it has been planned and discussed 10 years ago but still, the old fashioned kind of public transport seems to serve the city folks with inconsistent and unreliable kind of service.


Thank you for your comment. As far as TRANSIT knows, the CAT system has not yet been implemented in Kuching. However, the Kuching South City Council is very much in favour of implementing the CAT (a Bus-Rapid Transit service) while also maintaining the existing intercity bus & minivan services.

Basically CAT would be for rapid transport movement around Kuching itself. It does not mean that the old buses would be changed or improved in any way.

That all depends on whether the Kuching North and South City Councils would start implementing a new organization system for public transport, with a local authority responsible for planning, building, operating & managing public transport, with most of the funding coming from the Federal and Sarawak government.


Moaz for TRANSIT

Thank you for your clarification. Oh no, so it means still the old buses moving around in KUching City. Are those mentioned by Abg Johari is going to become reality?

WHat could help to speed up and change the entire public transport system in KUching city. As a folk from Kuching City, it is so ashamed to see that there is no improvement in terms of physical and services of the public transport system in KUching.

Also, talking about the taxi, i think they can throw awaythe meter…the taxi drivers do not use the meter at all and charge according to all they want….Not like other city like in other country, where the taxi drivers really make use of the meter and if they refuse, passengers can report them. To whom we can make such a report? Seems like no authority to protect the consumers in Malaysia. Although there is a hotline for CVLB but it never seriously help or protect the consumers or do something for the public! Sad and sigh…..

Really hope to see a totally change in Kuching Public transport system, seems bus is so inefficient, it is more appropriate for kuching to have TRAM like in New Zealand.


For the moment, the old buses will still remain.

When the CAT is built, the old buses will still provide the long distance and inner city service. Perhaps buses from the south and east will be directed to Kuching Sentral instead of the old town area.

At the same time, there is no reason why the buses cannot be modernized, if the government and the operators are willing to provide the investment.

As for the taxi service & the organization – there is no clear authority who can ‘take charge’ of public transport – the CVLB is too ‘far removed’ from the issues on the ground (and usually does not have enough enforcement officers) while the Local councils do not have any authority over public transport (except areas related to parking).

What is needed is a local transport authority that has control over all aspects of land transport, including public transport, taxi service, ferries and trains.


Moaz for TRANSIT

Oh, it seems like is gonna be another decade or millenium to foreseem the transformation of KUching City Public TRansport System…too bad!

Whose responsibility? Local authority, state or federal? From the news above, is the RM200 million already been approved?


It may take less than a decade but at least 3-4 years to see some big changes.

Kuching has a few advantages that other cities do not have.

1) The Kuching councils are actively working to improve public transport – this makes a huge difference.
2) The public transport service in Kuching is not ‘especially’ terrible – and can be improved fast with better organization of the bus & taxi service and more money for new buses.
3) The CAT service has a good chance to succeed because Kuching still has room to grow – place a good public transport system in and the system will grow with the population of the city.
4) The Bus Rapid Transit concept may be successfully introduced to Kuching first because they are further ahead.
5) The Federal government needs the support of the people of Sarawak and that means that the RM200 million request is likely to be approved. Also, elections are coming soon in Sarawak.

The best thing that public transport users and supporters can do is encourage the government and MPs & assemblyman from Sarawak and Kuching to invest properly in public transport.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

Hi Moaz, I really appreciate your response upon my post.

Are the councils in Kuching City working very hard on the public transport issues? Perhaps the local should really be informed on the progress. That’s a good news if it is true.

On behalf of Kuching CIty folks, I hope that the process in realizing a modern and efficient public transport system for KUching City, which is teh capital city of the state of Sarawak (the biggest state in Malaysia) will soon become reality.

Could you please explain a little on the Bus Rapid Transit for Kuching City? I am so curious to know about this. Thanks in advance.

By the way, is there any project on the rail link for kuching city? Or perhaps tram?

Hope to hear from you again MOaz. Thank you so much for your kind attention.

Li 🙂

Hi Li

Regarding the Kuching City Council, we can see that the Kuching South City Council has made some comments about public transport and they did propose the Kuching CAT system for the city.

Kuching CAT (City-Area-Transit) is a bus-rapid-transit system proposed for Kuching City. TRANSIT does not know more than what we posted back in October 2009 at the Kuching CAT page.

Kuching CAT has 4 proposed lines

  • Red – Kubah Ria – Samarang
  • Blue – Merdeka Plaza to Kuching Sentral
  • Green – Travillion Terminal to Stutong Market
  • Yellow – Stutong Terminal to Kuching Sentral
  • Purple – Merdeka Plaza to Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) Terminal

The Purple line would have a street segment, running through Kuching City near the waterfront.

As for rail links, you may know that the government is looking to build a railway across Borneo, connecting Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah (and presumably Indonesia). It is quite possible that the government could resurrect the old Kuching Rail Line, from the waterfront to Bau, but using tram technology, for a local service.

A public transport link between Kuching Sentral and the Kuching International Airport should also be explored.


Moaz for TRANSIT

hi Moaz, thank u so much for keeping me updated with all the transport info. Trully appreciate.

In your last response you mentioned “As for rail links, you may know that the government is looking to build a railway across Borneo, connecting Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah (and presumably Indonesia). It is quite possible that the government could resurrect the old Kuching Rail Line, from the waterfront to Bau, but using tram technology, for a local service.”

Which goverment is actually looking for the rail link connection, the Federal govt or Sarawak govt? I know that Sabah govt has been very active in pursuing this, isn’t it? AS for Sarawak, only heard the Chief Minister wants the rail link for the central region only and never mention about the rail link for kuching or the entire Sarawak State (Sad if that is the fact). I just want to know which government is really interested on this issue.

Quite disappointed to hear that the allocation from teh federal government is only to develop the water transport, which is less popular nowadays. They seems to neglect the land transport development, which truly need an good and efficient system!!

THanks again for your help and attention and am looking forward to hearing from you again.

Li 🙂

ON the resurrection of the kuching old rail roado , I trully support this and it could be turned into some kind of tram way too! TRuly hope that this will become real.

Hi Tony

In order to get people to use public transport, there needs to be a very complete network serving a town or city – it has to be able to take large numbers of people from place to place, serve important trip generators, and meet the ‘first mile’ and ‘last mile’ challenges.

To build a monorail, it will cost RM100 million per kilometer of track. However, the BRT costs RM15-20 million per kilometer.

Kuching can build 5-8x more kilometers of public transport for the same cost as 1km of monorail.

Eventually there will be a need for monorail, LRT or some other mass transit in Kuching & other cities – but for now, the complete network is more important.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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