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CityLiner to receive operations subsidy from Penang Government

TRANSIT took note of this article which states that the Penang Government will provide an operational subsidy of RM140,000 per month to bus operator CityLiner to continue operating bus services in Sebarang Prai until May 2012.

This came after the bus companies operating under the CityLiner brand threatened to stop bus operations in Sebarang Prai as of November 21st, because the operations had become unsustainable due to low revenues and higher costs. This came as part of a shutdown in multiple states that has provided major inconvenience for public transport users throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

CityLiner is the stage bus brand of Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB), which is Malaysia’s largest bus operator.

Cityliner gets subsidy to keep it going (The Star)
Saturday December 10, 2011

BUTTERWORTH: Cityliner buses will continue to provide services on the Penang mainland at least until May next year.

The Penang Government will provide a RM140,000 subsidy per month to Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB) for six months to help the company maintain the Cityliner service.

State Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state had accepted the subsidy proposal by KTB as a short-term remedy for the company to continue providing the bus service.

[TRANSIT: SPAD had asked state governments to step in and help resolve the problems faced by CityLiner and other bus companies using whatever methods worked for them. Ironically, we at TRANSIT have been trying to encourage state governments to take up a stronger role in public transport and have done our best to provide information and “how to” feedback.

We wonder if SPAD is doing the same. A crisis is not the time to start making changes to policy. A good organization keeps their ears to the ground (listening and learning ahead of time) to prevent a crisis from ever beginning.]

“The company asked for RM160,000 subsidy a month but the state approved the lower amount due to its financial limitations,” he said after visiting the Penang Sentral temporary bus station at the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal here yesterday.

Chow said that while the state was providing the subsidy to help KTB sustain operations, the company would have to find ways to increase its revenue.

“The state will help them if they need to reroute their services to increase their revenue,” he added.

[TRANSIT: This is actually a major potential problem because the state and local governments have a responsibility to ensure that people have access to transportation. If CityLiner adjusts routes, what will happen to the people using these routes today?]

He said the state was providing the subsidy following KTB’s decision to cease the bus operations this month due to high operational costs.

Chow said the public, especially the poor, would be affected if the company stopped the bus service.

He said the state was also helping the company negotiate with Rapid Penang and the Land Public Transport Commission to find a long-term solution to the problem.

[TRANSIT has been talking about and sharing long-term solutions to the problem before it was even a problem!]

The company has a total of 32 buses plying the following routes: Butterworth-Bukit Mertajam, Butterworth-Parit Buntar via Bukit Mertajam and Nibong Tebal, Butterworth-Baling and Butterworth-Padang Serai.


We are pleased to see that another state government is taking ownership of public transport service within the state. Of course, the Penang government has already had a proactive history of participation in public transport services – the old Georgetown municipal buses, the recently-revived City Shuttle, the Penang Transport Council and B.E.S.T. stand out as examples of a government that pays attention to public transport.

Part of the reason would have to be the small size of Penang State and the small number of local governments – it is far easier to get two local governments to cooperate than it is to get 12 governments.

What TRANSIT wants to see now is a more formal role for the Penang Transport Council – the council should work with SPAD and “take over” all bus routes in Penang. Bus operators would then operate these routes on behalf of the Penang Transport Council under a system of gross-cost or net-cost contracts.

The Penang Transport Council would also be responsible for administering a common fare collection system and using the revenues from fare collection to help pay for services.

Prasarana’s subsidiary RapidPenang would provide the bulk of local services and shuttle bus services, while private bus operators would provide supplementary services on stage bus routes.

Penang already has a huge number of advantages when it comes to public transport. It has the history & the experience in administration of public transport, it has already contracted out services (the C.A.T. City Shuttle and B.E.S.T. bridge shuttle) and it already has the Penang Transport Council in place.

RapidPenang is also a proactive organization that has successfully improved bus services in Penang, transforming it from a broken-down state to a highly effective one. And former RapidPenang CEO Azhar Ahmad is now the Chief Operating Officer of SPAD.

The time has come to put all those pieces together and take the steps necessary to transform bus transport in Penang – and then export that successful model throughout Malaysia.

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