Updated with even more reasons to sue!
The members of TRANSIT were shocked & disappointed when we noted this article about the launching of a “Rapid Kuching” intercity bus service in Sarawak yesterday.
While we are happy to see any improvements in public transport, and we are pleased that the Sarawak government is getting involved in public transportation, the thought of “Rapid” Kuching (and the photo of the bus itself) left us unsettled.
On the road to better transport system (The Star)
KUCHING: An improved public transport system integrating buses and water taxis will be implemented in the city within the next five years.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said a comprehensive study was being carried out to look into ways of providing better public transport here.
“We are looking for the best solution to improve public transport. This is a massive exercise and will take five years because there are a lot of things we have to study,” he said.
[TRANSIT: It shouldn’t have to take five years if it is done correctly. You simply have to change the public transport system and offer the existing operators ‘incentives’ to follow along or get out of the way.]
He said one of the areas being looked at was the frequency and reliability of bus services in the city.
“Buses must be frequent, regular and on time. We are looking at five minutes between buses during peak hours as the interval required by commuters to get to work on time.
[TRANSIT: Five minute intervals and maintaining frequency & reliability will require the use of bus lanes or the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit.]
“According to rough calculations, in order to achieve a five-minute interval, we will need at least 10 buses per route,” he said, adding that bus routes would have to connect the city centre with major residential areas such as Tabuan Jaya, Batu Kawah and Petra Jaya.
Johari was speaking to reporters after launching new bus operator Rapid Kuching Sdn Bhd’s services at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here yesterday.
He also said the study would look at integrating bus services with the new water taxi service expected to start in the middle of this year.
The water taxi route will cover areas between Satok and the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.
Earlier, Rapid Kuching chief executive Henry Lai said the company’s services would start with one route from Kubah Ria in Satok to Bako, served by two buses.
He said the company eventually planned to establish new routes and increase its fleet to accommodate future demand from commuters.
“With this service, we hope to reduce city commuters’ dependence on private vehicles and therefore, ease traffic congestion in Kuching,” he said.
Lai also said Rapid Kuching’s buses were equipped with GPS and CCTV to track movement, monitor speed and ensure the safety of commuters.
“Fleet timing information will be introduced in the near future to enable commuters to plan their journey ahead by sending an SMS to obtain the arrival time of buses at their preferred bus stop,” he added.
And in the Borneo Post:
New era for public transport begins with Rapid Kuching (Borneo Post)
KUCHING: The launch of Rapid Kuching city bus services yesterday was seen as a first step to increasing the efficiency of the weak public transport service here.Kuching City folk have long called for a complete overhaul of the city public transportation system and Rapid Kuching has promised to re-brand the transportation system with an innovative and dynamic approach.
[TRANSIT: Innovative & dynamic? Copying trademarks of other public transport companies?]
Speaking at the launch, Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said: “The public transport must be entirely revamped. Now we have a company that would provide quality service while exploring the beauty of Kuching at the same time.
“The city must have an efficient and systematic public transport, one that can give added value to the city.”
Abang Johari said that as the ministry was close to improving the transport service system, it would continue doing studies to increase efficiency.
“We need to bring back the people’s confidence in our public transport service. In the past, the (bus) frequency had always been our liability especially during peak hours.
“Now we need a service where there would only be a five-minute time frame between the buses.
“If the buses are on time, people actually prefer to board public transportation as it would be less stressful during peak traffic hours.
“In addition, public transportation would also save money as the commuters do not have to worry about parking fees and car fuel. People will rely heavily on buses and this would give less traffic congestion,” he explained.
Stressing that mobility was very important in big cities, Abang Johari said that Rapid Kuching had plans to link all areas in the city.
“As a start, the company would cover two routes. As the route coverage increases in the future, the vision is to complete each route in 10 minutes.
“We will try to establish a linkage between city centre, transport hubs and all major housing areas such as Tabuan Jaya, Muara Tebas, Batu Kawah, Petra Jaya including the Matang area.
“Once we have established this, we can then realise our plan to cover the routes with a five-minute frequency,” Abang Johari stated.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference after the launch, he applauded Rapid Kuching’s move in starting the service, saying the company was responding to the people’s need.
He assured that the government would try its best to support the company as it realise that the project required massive investments.
Speaking at the launch earlier, Rapid Kuching chief executive officer Henry Lai said the introduction of the service would reduce the city commuter’s dependence on private vehicles, thus would improve the city’s traffic congestion problem.
He said fewer vehicles running meant helping to realise the federal government initiative of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 per cent by the year 2020.
He added that all fleets would be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) and Close Circuit Television (CCTV) for tracking and monitoring the speed while providing security movement for the commuters.
“In the future, we will introduce a Fleet Timing Information (FTI) to enable commuters to plan their journey schedule by sending an SMS to obtain arrival time of buses at their preferred bus stop.
“Besides, more routes would be introduced and we will work closely with all city councils to improve our service,” Lai stated.
Rapid Kuching would be up and running from Saturday, April 3. Two buses will be servicing the route from 7am to 2.30pm daily.
The route would start from Kubah Ria to Bako (National Park) and vice versa, and passing areas such as Senari, Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), Bintawa, Pending, Kuching South City Council (MBLS), Waterfront, Jalan Kulas and Jalan Muhibbah among others.
At first, we thought this might be an April Fool’s Joke but there it is. The Sarawak Government has introduce a “rapid Kuching” service that, from what we know, is in no way connected to the “rapid” services offered in Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
In these cities, “rapid” stands for Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras (which means rapid integrated transport network) and the companies offer a relatively integrated public transport service (especially in the Klang Valley).
But in Kuching (and formerly, Terengganu), “rapid” is just an intercity bus service – and a name to latch on to (like “Sentral”) to give people an impression that may not be backed up by service.
On the other hand, there is a plan for expansion and increased service in the ‘inner city’ and links between the city and suburban areas – so perhaps there is a positive future for Rapid Kuching.
However, we are not happy with the use of the ‘rapid’ name and the logos on the buses. Rapid Kuching has copied the logo of RapidKL, using the same font but switching the colour from blue and white to yellow.
They have also copied the trademarked roundel logo from the London Underground, property of Transport for London, which “has been registered as a trade mark for exclusive use by TfL both in the UK and abroad in over twenty classes covering use on vehicles, paper products, toys, clothing etc.” Transport for London does not like people copying their trademark.
It is highly ironic that Abang Jo was quoted as saying that people turn to ‘pirates’ due to poor public transport (Borneo Post) but can turn a blind eye to the pirating of the trademarks of Rapid and Transport for London.
Kuching City Area Transit (CAT) was a great, semi-appropriate name for public transport in Kuching. They should have stayed original.