Mohd Nur Kamal, chief executive of the Land Public Transport Commission which just turned 1 in January, tells Tan Choe Choe that his agency is looking at several options but more time is needed to come up with the best solution to the national bus crisis.
Update: The Minister of Transport has also chimed in with his view that bus operators need to improve their human resources before looking at foreign workers! See the new article at the bottom of this post
TRANSIT took note of this interesting article in which the Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam responds to a request from the management of Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB), Malaysia’s largest transport conglomerate, which runs the familiar Transnasional, CityLiner, PlusLiner and Nice bus services.
Click here for a larger version of the image above.
KTB had requested that they be allowed to hire foreign workers to, presumably, deal with a shortage of properly trained, responsible bus drivers.
KUALA LUMPUR: It has become a trend among employers in the transport industry to recruit foreign workers as a quick solution to their human resource woes, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.
[TRANSIT: Not exactly … foreign workers are not legal in the transport industry so how could this be a trend?]
He said the industry should however reconsider its system of hiring and managing drivers.
TRANSIT took note of two very interesting articles in the Malay Mail detailing initiatives by Prasarana to improve bus service for the OKU community and improve their access to society.
TRANSIT believes that these efforts by Prasarana deserve mention, especially because of the dedication of one particular Prasarana team member – a true Malaysian public transport hero. But before we get to that, let us give you some background on the first article.
IMPORTANT: If you are a commercial vehicle permit owner, you need to re-register your permit with the Land Public Transport Commission before 1 September 2011. See the relevant information here (from the SPAD website) or scroll down to the bottom of this post!
Update: Responses from TRANSIT and SPAD on the issue of the re-registration exercise have been published. Scroll down to the end for more information!
TRANSIT took note of this very interesting article in the Malay Mail, detailing some of the challenges faced by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) upon taking over from the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board since 1 January 2011.
CVLB was created by the CVLB Act 1987. Between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 2010 CVLB had the exclusive authority for road-based commercial transport (freight, public transport and commercial vehicles) in Malaysia – with the exception of Tourism vehicles (which were under the Tourism Ministry). Today, the CVLB is only responsible for Sabah & Sarawak.
SPAD, as you know, was “created” by the SPAD Act (Gazetted 1 June 2010), became an “official” government agency on 1 September 2010 and gained full authority over land public transport in Peninsular Malaysia on 1 January 2011.
Messy legacy: Land transport supremo ‘inherits’ problem-ridden CVLB (Malay Mail)
Thursday, May 26th, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR: In a move to establish a comprehensive database for commercial vehicles and operators, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will face a daunting task with its re-registration exercise for transport operators.
They now have to start from scratch to build up its database of 87,705 operators managing more than 350,000 commercial vehicles, mostly due to poor record-keeping and management practices by the former Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).
Sources claimed commission officers, who took over the licensing board on Jan 31, were shocked when they discovered the state of the record-keeping.
TRANSIT took note of this article, detailing complaints from a group of taxi drivers about being struck out from getting passengers at KLCC thanks to a new mall parking policy – and claiming assault by representatives of the taxi concessionaire at KLCC.
TRANSIT profiled the introduction of the taxi concessionaire in this post last year on 4 November 2010 that questioned the idea of legalizing the exorbitant prices charged by taxi drivers by introducing the coupon system.
RE: “Low Tech” issues with new “High Tech” integrated terminal
Malaysians often comment that public transport in Malaysia is a joke. Prime Minister Najib has tasked Idris Jala, Syed Hamid Albar, and the people at Pemandu and SPAD to ensure that real, serious improvements are made to the way the government delivers on its commitments, including public transport.
Unfortunately, it seems that some people in various branches of the government have still not gotten the message.
The issues surrounding the Integrated Transport Terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan (officially called Terminal Bersepadu Selatan Bandar Tasik Selatan or TBS-BTS) have helped finish off 2010 and begin 2011 with collective embarrassment for the government on the public transport file – clearly the last thing that Prime Minister Najib needs to be dealing with.
To summarize the issue: The building is ready, and the DBKL had approved the start of bus operations on 1 January 2011. Terminal Management company TMAS had already opened the terminal to the public in December and invited 190 bus operators (of which 10 had already agreed).
However, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry has issued a directive that the terminal should start operations on 2 February 2011 – the same day that Puduraya (which is currently being refurbished) was expected to open. That project, which should have been completed by the end of 2010, was already delayed and the 1 month extension would have helped ensure that both terminals would be ready, together.
To make the story even stranger, the CVLB has directed bus operators to shift to the new terminal by 1 January 2011. This directive came in the form of a memo sent by fax on 30 December 2010!
TRANSIT: In case you are wondering – touting exists because of weaknesses in the system – namely in communication & delivery of information. Since passengers cannot plan in advance, they must show up at the terminal which puts them at the mercy of the touts who offer information & services.
And if this was not strange enough, members of UMNO and PKR were present together at a demonstration complaining that the poor residents of the area have not been given access to the retail lots in the terminal and the leasing costs are too high!
It should have been so simple – the Integrated Transport Terminal had been built, now the bus operations just had to start in a timely and effective fashion. What happened instead continues to prove that the Malaysian government can build great infrastructure but cannot manage and deliver a project properly.
It appears that all the stakeholders cannot even clearly answer the all-important question of “who is in charge?”. And instead of resolving their issues through communication & discussion, they take everything to the media, generating confusion & embarrassment once again. Sadly, the Malaysian media does not help much. It appears that they simply reported the information from the TMAS briefing verbatim, and did not even bother to ask simple questions like “does this high-tech bus terminal have a website and phone number?” or “How can the public can get information about bus services in advance, so they do not come to the terminal without information and fall prey to touts like at Puduraya?”
The rakyat cannot be faulted for thinking to themselves, “If our government agencies cannot manage the delivery of one bus terminal properly, one can only wonder what will happen with the RM36 billion (to start) MRT network!”
Malaysians should disappointed. The ‘jokers’ at the various government agencies should be ashamed. Idris Jala should be worried, and Prime Minister Najib should be furious.
And Halimah Sadique, the Chair of the CVLB, should resign instead of trying to be a hero. She publicly criticized her own CVLB Director, Naimah Ramli, because buses were still at Bukit Jalil and had not moved to the new terminal yet, saying “I had expected all of them (bus operators) to move in by today (Jan 1). Do you know the rakyat is miserable at Bukit Jalil?”
[TRANSIT: Honestly, Halimah, did you just discover this misery in your recent visit? Where have you been for the past 8 months?]
Halimah should know that the rakyat who use public transport have been miserable since 1987, when the CVLB was created. And to be very frank, in her 1.5 years as Chair of the CVLB, Halimah has accomplished little to reduce that misery. Despite multiple fare increases, bus service has not improved in terms of quality or safety.
By publicly criticizing her own director, Halimah has made it clear that she is not in control of the CVLB, and should therefore step down and let someone else take charge. More importantly, the CVLB should be disbanded and replaced by SPAD immediately.
TRANSIT: It is clear that something is rotten in the CVLB.
Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
on behalf of TRANSIT
What a way to end a decade and begin a new one! We hope that the message gets across to the public and to the government that project management and delivery in Malaysia is in dire need of improvement.
Without significant improvements quickly, we can continue to expect poor examples like the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan.
Leakages and corruption and inefficiency are costing Malaysia and reducing the quality of life for the rakyat!
TAXIS in Kuala Lumpur have begun sporting big ‘No Haggling’ stickers on the sides of their doors as part of new rulings imposed by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).
[TRANSIT: Please note that these are not ‘new rulings’ as the article describes. They have been in place for a long time, but they have been ignored for an equally long time!]
The rulings, which are aimed at improving the services of taxis, also include the mandatory issuance of receipts to all passengers and list down a variety of compoundable offences.
The move comes after complaints continued to flow that taxi drivers were fleecing customers in spite of a hike in metered fares.
A StarMetro team recently took to the streets to see if the new rulings have had any effect on the situation.
[TRANSIT: Has anyone noticed that the additional stickers are making KL taxies look even uglier than ever? And why should a “No Haggling” sticker even be necessary? Shouldn’t it be obvious to everyone?]
Four out of six taxis we hopped into used the meter without being asked to and the drivers insisted that they had always done so.
[TRANSIT: 4 out of 6. That is sad!]
Our journey began at Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, where we hopped into a taxi to the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) station in Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.
The cab was driven by Ng Hong Foh, 62, who has been driving his taxi for five years.
“Some of the other drivers used to reprimand me for using the meter but I would not feel that I’ve earned an honest wage if I cheated my passengers,” Ng said.
Ng paid RM8 for the ‘No Haggling’ stickers outside his door and another RM8 for the list of offences.
[TRANSIT: WHAT????? Why are the drivers paying for these stickers? Is the CVLB so poor that it cannot include the stickers as part of the permit that taxi drivers receive? Shouldn’t the stickers be free????]
From the KTMB station, we ventured to Bukit Bintang and proceeded to KLCC from there. Both these areas are hotspots noted for pricey taxi fares but, this time around, the drivers also used the meter.
Our joy was shortlived when we met a driver Muru (not his real name) who charged us a flat rate of RM15 to Petaling Street despite sporting the ‘No Haggling’ sign.
Muru was parked along the road and insisted that all the taxis charged the same rate or perhaps higher.
“I’m charging you a cheaper rate, the others would probably charge you RM20 or more,” he claimed.
According to him, he is left with little choice as the monthly payment and maintenance of a rented taxi costs about RM1,500.
“Those who have their own taxis can afford to use the meter but people like us have to make ends meet,” Muru said.
To make matters worse, he said he would be returning empty-handed from Petaling Street as there was an alleged turf barrier.
[TRANSIT: We think they mean ‘turf war’]
He claimed that some taxi drivers had conquered certain locations within the city and other taxis were not allowed to poach passengers.
At the Chempaka LRT station, a group of taxi drivers had banded together in an attempt to rake in unreasonable profits by ignoring the meters.
The drivers divide passengers among themselves based on their destinations. One taxi driver charged RM4 per head for three people to a destination where the metered rate would cost RM4.50.
THE taxi associations say they have seen positive results in drivers’ attitudes since the new rulings were introduced.
[TRANSIT: Of course they would say that.]
According to the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor’s Taxi Drivers’ Welfare Association’s S. Augustine, a survey showed that 70% of the drivers had started using the meter.
[TRANSIT: What do public transport users have to say? Are you also seeing a 70% compliance?]
“Since the guidelines were introduced, members of the public have become more aware of their rights and insist the drivers use the meter,” he said.
When asked for the reason behind those who didn’t use the meter, Augustine said many of the drivers were forced to pay a hefty monthly rental to their companies.
“These people have no benefits as most of it goes to their company and the company makes the profit. This is why they resort to fixing the rates,” he added.
[TRANSIT: So, the truth comes out – rent seeking companies taking advantage of the drivers? So why don’t the Associations band together and stop the practice? Maybe because the rent-seeking companies are involved with rent-seeking politicians?]
Augustine believed the problem could be solved if more individual permits were given out. He said by doing so, they would only have to pay RM400 a month to the banks.
“Their costs would be reduced to only 50% and that would give them more leverage in the matter. This would definitely reduce the number of taxi drivers who do not use the meter,” Augustine said.
Meanwhile, CVLB director Datin Naimah Ramli said the number of complaints under the CVLB Act 334 had increased from 171 in Nov to Dec 2009 to 190 from Jan to Feb 2010. The offences carry a maximum fine of RM300.
“There has been an 11% increase but this could be because many passengers are excited about the campaign and are eager to play a part now,” Naimah added.
[TRANSIT: What say you, public transport users? Are you excited and eager to play a part?]
However, she said it was still too early to determine if the campaign was working.
“We are carrying out on-going operations but the people’s feedback is important. We urge members of the public to come forward and lodge their complaints,” Naimah said.
She said the public could not rely on CVLB officers alone as one officer sometimes had to keep track of 100 taxi drivers.
“We do not divulge informants details so the public need not worry. They should also play a role in this.
“We have 31,000 taxis in operation and we can’t keep tabs on all of them at the same time,” she added.
[TRANSIT: But you could certainly call for more officers to help make a difference.]
Among the list of common offences are:
Not using the meter
Extra charges above metered rates
Haggling for fare
Refusing to take passengers to desired destination
Using longer, more time-consuming routes to passengers’ desired destination.
The above set of articles from The Star hasa great deal of interesting information. It is nice to see that, as more attention is being paid to matters like public transport, more information is finally coming to light.
There is not much that can be done about rent-seeking politicians and greedy people – but the public can help improve public transport and taxi service by giving feedback and not giving up until the system is improved.
If you have a complaint about taxi service, please call the CVLB Hotline at 1-800-88-96-00 IMMEDIATELY – don’t wait until it is too late.
Try to have the following information at hand when you call.
Registration Number of taxi
Nature of Offence (e.g. refusing to take passenger, refusing to use meter, smoking in taxi, etc.)
You can also send the above information to MySMS at 15888 – just remember to start your SMS with ADUAN LPKP
TRANSIT invites you to comment on the rulings and the improvements to taxi service in the Klang Valley. Let’s be fair and celebrate the improvements and the good drivers, and identify the recalcitrant, stubborn drivers and do what we can to get rid of them.
Please comment below, at twitter.com/transitmy (@transitmy) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance!