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The future of public transport in Malaysia

TRANSIT wrote the following letter about the future of public transport in Malaysia.

We realize that change will not take place overnight – but at the same time, we can see that changes are taking place. Infrastructure has been improved, connections have been built, and services are better organized.

The Government Transformation Programme has identified the solutions needed to help urban public transport catch up.

The crucial period ahead of us is the introduction of the Public Land Transport Commission. We expect that the presence of the Commission, plus the changes to the various transport laws that should also take place soon, will be the start of major change in public transport in Malaysia.

TRANSIT invites you to share your thoughts and ideas about how public transport can be improved over the next 5 years.

We are most interested in:

  • Public transport masterplan for Klang Valley and other cities;
  • Managing issues related to taxis;
  • Development planning;
  • Improving the efficiency of public transport;
  • Resolving issues related to express buses;
  • Resolving issues related to training, salaries & benefits;
  • Resolving accessibility issues;

But of course there are many other issues that need to be considered.

So, please add your comments below, or send us an email at

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: No turning back (Malay Mail)

THE past five years have not been easy for the public transport sector. Frankly, there have been many ups and downs — mostly downs.

I can count on one hand the number of successful improvements that I have seen, while the number of failures are countless.

That is the nature of public transport and any other public service. People tend to remember the failures far more than the successes. I prefer to remember the successes.

In Penang, I prefer to look at the success of RapidPenang, which could have been a bloated government-owned company, but has instead become lean, ambitious and motivated.

RapidPenang is a successful example of how public transport can be improved and it would be even more of a success with better cooperation and coordination.

For those who think it is a failure, perhaps they should look upon Penang’s ‘April Fool’s Joke’, the public transport revamp introduced on April 1, 2006, and declared a failure two months later.

It was not due to a lack of effort, but lack of coordination and support from all levels of the government to improvethis sector.

In Kuala Lumpur, there have been some improvements. Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad has basically taken over RapidKL and the KL Monorail, reorganising the companies and reshaping them to provide better service.

Small incremental improvements like repainting, improved signage and better information have slowly taken place. There have been notable successes and Prasarana-RapidKL is promising more successes and improvements to come.

What we did not have in 2005 and 2006, we now have. The Federal government has identified public transport as a national key result area and made some crucial investments.

State governments have woken up to the fact that they are also responsible. We are seeing efforts to improve the coordination in Penang, Selangor, Malacca, Johor, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.

In Perak, the government has decided to upgrade and improve the bus terminal in Medan Kidd, integrating it with the KTM railway station.

This is a much better version of ‘Ipoh Sentral’ than the original one proposed for Bandar Meru Raya, which shows that perhaps the Perak government is listening and learning.

Most importantly is that in the upcoming sitting of Parliament, a bill will be introduced to formally create the Public Land Transport Commission.

It will be tasked with improving public transport over the next decade, managing investment and overseeing the shift from an entrepreneurial, competition-based model into a more successful service and investment-based model.

I have prepared and shared a long list of ways that the commission could make changes for improvement, which I hope to see happening soon. Since I have been told that these changes will take time, I will only share the first and most important one.

The best thing the commission can do, starting this June when it is created, is to bring dignity and respect back into public transport.

This means that all bus drivers be treated with respect by their employers, and they will receive proper salaries, medical benefits, EPF and SOCSO, instead of being paid on a per-trip basis.

It also means that bus drivers and their employers will be trained properly to respect the rules of the road and put passengers’ safety first and foremost.

It also means that passengers will give respect to bus drivers and bus companies that emphasise, and “live and breathe”, safety.

Finally, it means that the government will respect the fact that good, safe, high quality public transport is necessary for the economic and social well-being of Malaysian society.

Of course, change will not be easy, but we have to start somewhere. Respect is the best place to start.

One reply on “The future of public transport in Malaysia”

I’m looking forward to that public transportation in Malaysia since there are only bus in there and taxis…

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