The year 2011 has been quite tumultuous for public transport and indeed, for many people in many places throughout the world.
Specifically to public transport, we in Malaysia have seen a number of major changes.
In terms of actual service improvements, we have seen the integration of service at Masjid Jamek, the introduction of another new fare collection system, and further work on LRT-LRT and LRT-Monorail integration projects.
In terms of upcoming projects we have seen the in-depth launching of the contentious Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit project (under the name “My Rapid Transit”), complaints about MRT-related land acquisition in KL’s Chinatown, as well as TTDI and Kajang, the arrival of the first new trains for the KTM Komuter service, and the long-awaited start of construction for the LRT extensions (which are still contentious).
In terms of planning ahead, we have learned about plans to improve the urban rail system, including 2 more MRT lines, an LRT from Klang to Kelana Jaya, an extension of the KL Monorail and a new KTM Komuter spur line to Subang Airport & KTMB freight link between Batu Tiga & Sg. Buloh.
But it was the collapse of CityLiner branded stage bus services throughout the country that probably gathered the most public attention, surprise, and anger. Indeed, the collapse, which was sudden but not unexpected, really showed the public that SPAD had to focus on improving the bus industry as its priority, rather than facilitating the KVMRT project. We certainly hope that SPAD will have learned from the experience.
As for the RM400mn government bailout of bus companies, we do not believe that this will accomplish much since the industry needs more than just money – it needs a regulatory revamp, active participation from local & state governments, and real consideration of what the public actually needs.
Until all these factors are a real part of the industry, no amount of money will change things.
Looking ahead to 2012, TRANSIT hopes to see SPAD take a more pro-active role in improving public transport especially the bus industry. We want to see public discussion of the Bus Transformation Program, the privatization (or separation from Prasarana) of RapidKL & RapidPenang bus operations, and the creation of new regional public transport organization & management authorities in KL & Penang – we’re calling them “Rapid for KL” and “Rapid for Penang” for the moment.
These public transport authorities would bring together the local & state governments, Prasarana, SPAD, and representatives of bus operators and the public to implement a new & improved public transport system that would focus on local management, organization, regulation, planning, and service.
TRANSIT also hopes to see SPAD focus on improving the taxi system – first, by eliminating excess permits, second, by putting the taxi system under the authority of the new public transport authorities “Rapid for KL” and “Rapid for Penang”, and third, by converting some of the taxi permits into short distance community taxi-van services that will encourage people to use public transport rather than private transport.
In 2012, TRANSIT will also do our best to continue to express our views on public transport issues such as bus & taxi service, the proposed takeover of KTMB by MMC, and future projects & changes in Penang, Iskandar-Johor, Malacca, Perak, and Kuching (among others). We hope to see lots of feedback and discussion from our readers focusing on public transport service and potential improvements.