TRANSIT notes that the Malacca government and Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam are preparing to spend money to invest in improving the public transport service in the state.
The government will spend RM2.35 million to buy 10 new buses for the Panorama Melaka City Transport service. They have also requested RM36 million for a revolving fund to help bus operators upgrade and modernize their fleets. Finally, the government will also use the fund to help subsidize less-profitable “social” routes.
Malacca to spend RM2.35mil to buy 10 new buses
Friday July 23, 2010
By MARTIN CARVALHO
MALACCA: The state will spend some RM2.35mil to acquire 10 new 40-seater coaches for its Panorama bus service in a move to upgrade the public transportation system here.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said an order had been placed for the coaches from Scomi Engineering & Logistics Sdn Bhd, a company specialising in the building of buses and coaches.
“The move is part of a RM36mil transportation package plan which the state is seeking from the Federal Government.
“It is to upgrade the public transport system in the state in line with the National Key Result Area,” he told reporters this after visiting the Bumi Hijau programme in Bukit Katil.
He said the air-conditioned coaches would be equipped with the latest facilities to provide comfort for passengers.
The Malacca government, he added, had decided to operate the buses via its subsidiary PM Cultural & Tourism Sdn Bhd rather than leasing them from local bus company Town Bus Service Sdn Bhd.
Mohd Ali said the former Panorama bus service leasing deal resulted in losses of RM1.2mil over the last three years.
The state has submitted its application to the Federal Government for the RM36mil allocation following approval from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to improve the public transportation system here.
The money would be used as a revolving fund and a bank guarantee to enable 11 local bus operators to obtain the necessary bank loans to replace some 206 old buses operating within the city as well as the Alor Gajah and Jasin districts.
The funds would also be used to provide subsidies to bus operators to ensure services on ‘social’ routes that are usually not covered, owing to low profitability.
In a separate matter, Mohd Ali said the state was also keen to source electric buses from China for future use in the city.
“I saw some of the buses while in China recently and they are pollution-free as they do not emit any smoke,” he said.
We are always impressed with Mohd. Ali Rustam’s continuing efforts to improve public transport in Malacca state. Never mind that he still gets things wrong – at least he is willing to make an effort to change and improve things, unlike leaders in other states.
Unfortunately, RM36 million plus 10 new buses for the Panorama service is not going to do that much to improve public transport in the state. What is really needed is an investment in organization and planning of public transport – and since Malacca is quite a small state it should be easy to create a state public transport authority for this very purpose.
TRANSIT finds in interesting that a spokesman for the bus operators complained about the government’s funding of the Panorama Melaka City Transport service – arguing that the subsidy of the money-losing company was hurting private bus operators.
As you can imagine, the money-losing private operators would prefer that the government subsidize their money losing services, rather than their own government-owned service.
Sadly, both sides seem to have accepted the fiction that public transport is going to be “money-losing” anyways.
Actually, Malacca is a place where public transport could be run very effectively – if there were fewer companies, better planning and organization, and more information. Aside from the large numbers of tourists (from Malaysia and abroad) who are likely to use public transport, there are also many students and young people. Finally, the towns in Malacca have pedestrian-scale town centres, which is encouraging to public transport use.
The state government has to realize a few things if they really want to see improvements to public transport, namely:
- The state government is allowed to get involved in the planning, management and organization of public transport;
- Routes & management and finances should be in the hands of the government to preserve accountability; services should be contracted out to maintain accountability;
- money is not enough – the state government has to take an active role in planning to improve the public transport services;
- new buses are not enough – witness what has happened with RapidKL’s services since 2006 – the new buses are there but not well maintained or cared for;
- attitude is key. A simple comparison of RapidPenang to RapidKL shows many differences between the companies in terms of management style, customer service and operations. Guess who wins out?
- Commitment is important – when we look at the Penang state government’s attempt to reorganize services in 2006 – or any efforts to improve public transport in the Klang Valley, we see that if the government does not show that it is committed, then all efforts will go to waste
TRANSIT would love to see improvements to public transport in Malacca in the next few years and we sincerely believe that this is possible. We just have to find a way to convince Mohd. Ali Rustam that he should do things a little bit differently in his dealings with the public transport operators.
As always, your feedback is welcome. Please email TRANSIT directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment in the space below.