TRANSIT recently took note of a proposal from Jema Khan that the government offer free public transport in the urban areas of the Klang Valley. The original article and our comments were posted here.
Jema suggests that we can start by introducing “free” bus service in the urban areas of KL. Indeed, “free” zones are seen in many cities to encourage local public transport trips. The closest example of a “free” zone is in Perth, Australia (as opposed to a “free” shuttle bus – which can be found in Perth & Penang – among others).
So we spent a few moments thinking about how we could make a “free” public transport service available in Kuala Lumpur – considering, of course, the various factors about public transport in Kuala Lumpur, challenges that would be faced, facilities available, etc.
This is what we came up with:
One way to introduce “free” public transport in KL would be to provide a “free” City Shuttle bus service within the Kuala Lumpur urban area – basically, inside the MRRi (Jalan Tun Razak, Lebuhraya Mahameru, Jalan Istana).
In order to make this work, we must preserve the existing terminals at Putra, Pasaramakota, KL Sentral, Pekeliling, Pasar Rakyat, and Hang Tuah for stage bus uses. As you know, some of these terminals will be shut down as the Integrated Transport Terminals in Gombak (for Eastbound/East coast-bound express buses) and Sg. Buloh (for Northbound express buses) are built.
The key detail will be to limit the presence of stage bus routes within the city by ensuring that they only drop off passengers at designated sites, then proceed to designated terminals at the edges of the city (near the MRRI) where they can pick up passengers. These terminals can also be used as holding areas and staging areas for city buses (instead of the area streets that are currently used).
City Shuttle Bus Service
RapidKL (and other bus companies under contract) would provide the free “City Shuttle” bus service which would link the urban areas to the terminals – ideally criss-crossing the city with buses.
Stage buses would drop off passengers within the city (Kota Raya, Chow Kit, KLCC, Pudu, Bukit Bintang) that they traditionally drop off passengers at. This would allow a convenient trip in the morning peak and passenger could get to their destinations sooner.
Then, the stage buses would make their way to the nearest “pinggiran” terminal at the edge of the city.
Hentian Putra would service buses from Chow Kit (Jalan Ipoh & Jalan Kuching corridors). Hentian Pekeliling would service buses from Jalan Pahang, Gombak & Genting Klang corridors. KL Sentral or Pasaramakota (Klang bus stand) would service buses from Kota Raya (Federal Highway & Jalan Klang Lama/Jalan Puchong corridors). Hentian Pasar Rakyat or the Hang Tuah bus terminal would service buses from Bukit Bintang (Jalan Loke Yew, Jalan Cheras corridors), and KLCC or Dang Wangi would service buses from Jalan Ampang, etc.
We must continue to allow stage buses into KL but we cannot allow them to continue waiting on KL streets in a manner that causes congestion & inconvenience. In addition, stage buses on streets have no holding areas or operations facilities.
By allowing stage buses to drop off passengers in KL, this provides a convenient service and gets people to their destinations on time (especially during the compressed morning peak).
By forcing stage buses to wait at the bus terminals, this would get rid of a perpetual sore in the urban areas of KL – the city buses sitting around the urban areas, causing traffic congestion. It would also provide staging facilities (offices, toilets, surau, control centre) for bus operators – facilities which currently do not exist.
By providing free City Shuttle bus service, it would encourage public transport users during the daytime hours as well as in the afternoon peak. And since the afternoon peak is less compressed (as fewer people are moving during the peak hours), public transport users may be inclined to stay at the terminals or stay in the city for the evening.
In order to get funding for the “free” City Shuttle bus, a congestion charge can be introduced for travel inside the MRRI – once additional buses are made available (so the waiting time is no more than 5 minutes).
Drivers who have to drive into KL will either choose to pay the charge or park at various parking facilities (including the proposed terminals) to use the free City Shuttle and avoid the congestion charge.
Of course, parking and tolls should be structured so that parking charges are highest inside the MRRI, somewhat lesser at the edge, and much lower at the outskirts. This would encourage more passengers to carpool or use public transport – whether stage buses, LRT, and the MRT and proposed Bus-Rapid Transit services – for their trips into KL.
As always we want to know what you think about these crazy proposals that come from TRANSIT. Please email us or comment in the space below. Thank you!