TRANSIT noted this article in the newspapers last week but we only had a chance to post and analyze it today.
Frankly, we disagree with the Minister’s comment that “convenience” is the key to increasing public transport usage – our research and analysis shows that availability & reliability are the key!
Wednesday June 30, 2010
By DHARMENDER SINGH
PUTRAJAYA: Making public transportation more convenient is the key to increasing its usage four-fold in the next five years, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.
He said the Government wanted to raise the number of public transport commuters from the current 480,000 to two million by the year 2015 but for people to change the way they travel, public transportation had to be made convenient.
Kong said among the conveniences the ministry was looking into was ensuring adequate parking facilities at LRT and KTM Komuter stations, as this was an issue deterring more people from using public transport.
“We also have to look at the frequency of bus and train services, and ensure they have the required passenger capacity to serve the areas well.
“It is important to overcome all these problems if we want to seriously promote the use of public transportation because people will not use them if it not convenient and condusive for them to do so,” he told a press conference after handing out Long Service and Excellence Service awards to his ministry’s staff here Wednesday.
Kong said the Kelana Jaya LRT route had shown a 13.3% increase in commuters in the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year, and this meant that the ministry’s efforts were on target towards achieving a 16%-25% increase in commuters by 2012.
He said this was partly due to the introduction of eight sets of the four-coach LRT trains that could accommodate twice the number of passengers, as well as reduce the waiting time from three to two minutes.
Kong added that he expected the number of users to continue rising as more such trains were added to the service.
As nice as it is to talk about “convenience” as the key to increasing public transport usage, we at TRANSIT feel that the Minister of Transport is literally on the “wrong track”.
Let’s get real for a moment – public transport is never, ever going to be as convenient as having your own private vehicle (whether bicycle, motorcycle, car, or even a combination). And it is wrong for the Minister to suggest that convenience is going to get people to use public transport – after all, if convenience is important people will use their own private vehicles.
What public transport users want and need is availability and reliability – they want a service that takes them from where they are to where they want to go, and when it is supposed to, in the time that it is supposed to take.
Recent service disruptions to the KTM Komuter & KL Monorail service, as well as past disruptions to the LRT show that commuters are incensed when service is unreliable and unavailable.
That is why everyone complains loudest about KTM Komuter (which has the worst availability & reliability thanks to limited government investment over the past decade since corporatisation) and the least about the LRT (which is far more available & reliable thanks to heavy government investment.
TRANSIT hopes that the people who are advising the Minister of Transport (namely, SPAD) will start to give him good advice about what the public really needs when it comes to public transport.