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Melaka Needs Good Public Transport, Now

Transit Malaysia is urging political candidates for the upcoming Melaka state elections to address long-standing public transport (PT) issues faced by the public. First, we would like to highlight specific public transport accessibility concerns. Then, we will outline potential quick wins and long-term solutions that can ease transport issues in Melaka.

Concerns raised
Transit Malaysia asked its followers on Twitter about what issues they think should be addressed in the Melaka transport system. Concerns were overwhelmingly focused on the poor quality of bus services state-wide.

Buses are failing to provide crucial links between housing areas and economic, education and social opportunities – a result of public transport being considered as an ‘afterthought’ in the town planning process. This transport gap is especially felt in the semiurban and rural areas in Melaka. Interchanges, such as Melaka Sentral, are also not supported with good wayfinding and design that facilitates seamless transfers between inter-state express buses and city buses.

Another issue highlighted was the Melaka Monorail’s poor performance. Many did not understand the Monorail’s role as an efficient public transport mode. They also highlighted the fact that the Monorail is too slow and under capacity to get anyone anywhere, fast.

Consequences
The poor performance of public transport, and the lack of active transport options embeds car dependence in the state of Melaka. This car dependency has been contributing to the worsening congestion in Bandar Melaka. This in turn makes the city a less viable location for tourism and economic activities – a costly loss for a state recovering from COVID-19.

The increased development of low-density suburbs within the state will also lengthen travel times/distances between Bandar Melaka and the rest of the state. People, especially B40 and families will feel the need to look to places further out of the city (and are poorly serviced by PT) to find a place to live. This in turn puts financial burdens on people to own cars to access the services and opportunities they need to survive.

Working for the Rakyat
We call on the incoming Melaka state government, and all political representatives from all sides, to work together in strengthening public and active transportation across the state.

Panorama Melaka must be provided the resources and financing needed to provide a bus network that connects all corners of Melaka. This includes ensuring its bus fleet and infrastructure is in good condition, and that bus routes/timetables are optimised to serve a wide catchment of rural and urban Melaka residents.

Rural areas such as Solok Bukit Baru should have new minibus services introduced. Small satellite towns, such as Ayer Molek and Tanjung Minyak, as well as denser neighbourhoods like Taman Merdeka, should be connected to Bandar Melaka with more frequent bus services. A core transit network must be identified, and transit priority (bus lanes etc) must be implemented to ensure the reliability of public transport.

The role of the Monorail as a public transport mode needs to be reevaluated and improved to ensure it provides a good service to Bandar Melaka residents.

Active transport options must be enhanced so that all residents (including OKU, the elderly and those new to the city) are able to use these facilities to get to social, economic opportunities and essential services without relying on cars. New urban realm interventions, such as pop-up bicycle lanes, pedestrian footpaths, parks and pasars can be trialled on Bandar Melaka streets to encourage active transportation and to bring street life back to the city.

These developments must be underpinned by a Public and Active Transport Strategy that sets out short-, medium- and long-term transport priorities and implementation for Melaka. This strategy must be co-designed with residents, businesses, and transport/planning experts. This strategy must also be supported by evidence of good public transport practices, such as those described in the World Bank’s Melaka Sustainability Outlook Diagnostic: Overview Report – Pathway to Urban Sustainability (2019).

It is important that we ask more of our elected officials to ensure that our cities are sustainable, liveable and accessible. This election, let us put sustainable urban planning and transportation on top of the election agenda.

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