1.Article: A better BET for Commuters (The Star) – This article highlights an “inspection” of the RapidBET system by Minister of Transport Kong Cho Ha, who also announced a new “pass-system” as well as a new RapidBET route from Rawang to Central Market.
TRANSIT: we are trying to find out more about this new “pass-system” but we think it may be similar to the one used by the DTS Cyberjaya service. After all, why make a special announcement if they are just planning to put Touch n Go readers on the buses? We also note the interesting RapidBET route from Rawang to Central Market. Currently, RapidKL does not offer a direct Rawang-Central Market route but many other operators do. Could this be the first RapidBET operated by another operator? Or is the government allowing RapidKL to expand into an area held dearly by their competition?
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2. Article: Increasing public transport service complaints (Harian Metro Malay Tabloid) – The National Consumer Complaint Center (NCCC) recorded significant increases in public transport related complaints last year compared to 2009. One important highlight made by the NCCC’s Senior Manager was that roughly half of LRT, Komuter and bus users combined had to take the public transport not because of the service satisfaction, but merely out of lack of alternative choices and high expenditures related to private transport.
TRANSIT: Although TRANSIT has been hoping for prompter and detailed public transport user feedback monitoring and review from those we entrusted and elected to take charge on improving public transport (instead of leaving the job to NGOs like FOMCA), such news is better than no news at all.
We should be asking ourselves whether performance indicators in public transport improvements should be merely confined to number of LRT/EMU trainsets and buses to be added and percentage of public transport modal share (in which methodology and relevancy aspects are not made to be transparent enough for the numbers to mean anything).
The NCCC report merely shows that public transport remains to be unattractive for the masses (with the ‘public transport as a last resort mobility tool for the poor’ mindset) as it was in the recent past. TRANSIT wants targets that are more realistically relevant to the needs of the end users, such as lower transit journey times (inclusive of time it takes from the doorbell to transit stops and vice versa, waiting time and transfer time) that at least match that of private vehicles.
3. Article: Bleak prospects for bus industry (Utusan Malaysia) – The CEO of the largest independent bus operator in the country (Konsortium Transnasional Bhd) lamented on the plummeting margins among the local private operators due to uncontrolled issuance of express bus permits by the government (currently held by 240 express bus operators), in the face of fix ceiling fares, high diesel costs and low overall ridership outside of festive seasons.
TRANSIT: It is time for the government to bite the bullet and take charge of public transport regulation and licensing through SPAD and allow local and state governments or regional public transport organizing authorities to take over the organization and management of public transport services.
In the past, TRANSIT has recommended Expressway Rapid Transit (ERT) as an approach to both relieve the constraints of intra-Klang Valley’s stage bus journey duration and of interstate express bus operating expenditures, where express bus operators either lease out or be given flexibility in utilizing their underutilized rolling stocks to serve commuting demands from multiple ERT terminals along expressways in the Klang Valley area during peak hours.
These ‘suburban gateways’ intersect with arterial roads that are serviced by local buses that ply the individual residential pockets. The destination terminals would be the proposed gateways with clear access to existing highways such as Dang Wangi (endpoint of AKLEH), proposed extension of Ampang Line LRT towards DUKE, proposed bus lanes from SPRINT/Duta to KL Sentral and Maju Expressway’s Salak South Toll Plaza-Cheras LRT (and may include the 3 proposed ITTs in Bdr Tasik Selatan, Gombak and Kota Damansara/Sg Buloh).
4. Article: Feeder buses win praises (Utusan Malaysia) – RapidKL was commended by express bus users for the efficient shuttle bus services from Puduraya to Hentian Duta and temporary express bus station at Bukit Jalil.
TRANSIT: Kudos to RapidKL! However TRANSIT still receives complaints on lack of information on where to buy tickets. Hopefully there will be a responsible one-stop center in charge of handling ticketing and information on express bus services.
5. Article: When will (the nightmare) end (Utusan Malaysia) – Kajang city folks complained on the worsening congestion in Kajang downtown, where narrow street of Jalan Bandar were clogged with idling and waiting buses and taxis.
TRANSIT: We have presented Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as part of main solutions for several congested Malaysian cities with narrow streets and small downtown area like Kajang. Downtown areas should be reserved for walking, and special lanes must be enforced strictly for (running, not idling) buses. In downtown areas, transit vehicles should only be allowed to take or drop off passengers . Facilities should be created elsewhere for bus and taxi drivers to park their vehicles and do their private chores. But most importantly, where is the local authority’s role and responsibility in this picture?