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Bus system improvements to include a little bit of London and a little bit of Kelantan?

TRANSIT took note of this very interesting interview in the NST with SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Kamal, discussing the bus transformation plan and proposals for implementation of improved bus services.

It is interesting to note that SPAD is learning from London and will be applying their knowledge in Kelantan.

Bus system to go London style? (NST)

26 February 2012

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.

SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Kamal. Image courtesy of NST.
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Malacca government steps forward on public transport with RM7.7mil compensation and takeover plan. Will they learn from RapidKL? (Update #1)

Update #1: Updated with more letters & articles

TRANSIT took note of the following interesting news – the Malacca state government is stepping forward with plans to compensate 10 existing public transport operators in the state with RM7.7 million, with a plan to for state-owned operator Panorama to take over the operations from the private operators on February 1st of this year.

New Panorama Melaka midi-bus. Image courtesy of Jom Naik Bas!

The takeover proposal appears to forestall the warnings from the Malacca Omnibus Operators Association that they would be forced to stop services on February 1st.

Malacca to give RM7.7mil compensation to ailing omnibus operators (The Star)

26 January 2012

MALACCA: Malacca’s ailing omnibus operators will get RM7.7mil in compensation from the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam also announced Thursday that the state-owned agency, PMTC, would fully take over the stage bus operations from Feb 1 while the current dilapidated buses used by ten operators would be replaced in stages.

The memorandum of understanding between the state government and Malacca Omnibus operators was signed at Dewan Seri Negeri.


So, the state government is paying RM7.7 million to buy old buses from these bus operators, which they will then turn around and use on the existing public transport routes while the buses are replaced over time.

That basically sounds to us like the process by which Intrakota and later RapidKL were created – pay good public money to buy up near worthless private assets, buy new bus chassis at an inflated cost with a ‘too-short’ timeline, leading to:

  • contracts for Malaysian bus assemblers;
  • a need to purchase new buses in a few years;
  • public complaints about the loss of competition.

Hopefully, the Malacca government and SPAD will have learned from the mistakes made by RapidKL & Prasarana in the past. One wise step to take would be to take the purchase of new buses out of the hands of Panorama Melaka Cultural & Tourism (and the state government) and put the purchase in the hands of national infrastructure company, Prasarana.

Why? Because first of all, Prasarana knows what buses to buy, thanks to their 5 extra years experience in purchasing buses. Second, Prasarana is the national infrastructure company, with the right financial backing to get the buses at a great price. Third, it is best to keep the purchase of buses neutral and focused on the improvements, not potential opportunities.

TRANSIT also believes that the Malacca Government needs to develop a concise and effective public transport plan that builds on the major corridors that need to be served – namely the existing Malacca town buses, Malacca – Ayer Keroh route (including the proposed Malacca Tram), and the intercity services connecting Malacca town to Alor Gajah and Tampin (where it can link to KTM train services including possible future ETS.

From the article, there is more info to come. In the meantime, take a look at the articles after the jump, which detail the situation in Malacca and the way that the plan came together.

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Melaka monorail downtime is not a joke

TRANSIT took note of a few interesting articles from down in Malacca, where the Chief Minister appears to be making light of the embarrassing situation with the troublesome monorail.

TRANSIT is disappointed that the CM is not taking the problems of the monorail seriously. His suggestions that tourists are interested in coming to Malacca to see the broken down monorail are insulting and show a lack of respect for taxpayer money, which has been invested into this project.

At the same time, (or should we say, to make things worse) the CM is talking about expanding the monorail to provide service along Jalan Tun Ali in the backside area of Jalan Hang Tuah, the attempted new town centre / institutional zone for the city.

CM sees lighter side of Malacca monorail controversy (The Star)
Tuesday December 13, 2011

MALACCA: Despite the endless glitches that has struck the Malacca Tourist Monorail, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said there is a bright side to the issue.

“I know many quarters have criticised the monorail service due to the glitches but we are optimistic it will gain popularity once the flaws have been rectified.

“It has gained fame thanks to the media reports about the earlier problems,” he said, when officiating at the ground-breaking of the second phase of the service at Jalan Tun Mutahir here yesterday.

[TRANSIT: It has been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity … but that’s not quite true.]

Mohd Ali said the service had malfunctioned 27 times since its launch in October last year.

On the right track: Models posing next to a replica of the new Malacca Tourist Monorail coach that will begin services once the second phase has been completed in February 2013. Image courtesy of The Star.

“We almost made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for encountering countless breakdowns,” he quipped.

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Malacca Monorail to run again – but only on days without rain (Update #3)

  • Update: Read an interesting letter from Esa Adam!
  • Update: The monorail service has been suspended again!
  • Update: No sooner had the service received the green light to resume operations (not in the rain though) the service has stalled again – when it was operated after a sudden rain shower!

TRANSIT took note of the recent announcement that the Melaka Monorail was permitted to resume operations as it had met almost all of the safety conditions set out by public transport regulator SPAD.

The Melaka Monorail operator Menara Taming Sari Sdn. Bhd. had been told to shut down the service on September 30, for a 30 day period after the latest service disruption that forced passengers to disembark from the train using a ladder.

The letter from Esa Adam:

The monorail saga continues (The Star)
Thursday December 1, 2011

THE Malacca monorail is in the limelight again but for the wrong reasons (The Star, Nov 30), just days after resuming service.

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No bus for you, Seremban and surrounding area! (Update #4)

TRANSIT woke up to more and more bad news with bus service! Thousands of commuters living around Seremban are affected as local bus services are shut down.

Going nowhere: Bus drivers and employees of the consortium sitting at their depot in Oakland near Seremban 2 after services to several areas were terminated yesterday. Image courtesy of The Star.
More buses than usual lying idle at the depot now that services have been greatly reduced in Negri Sembilan. Image courtesy of The Star.

The biggest surprise – the buses shown in the photos above are “CityLiner” branded buses – and the CityLiner brand is used by various subsidiary companies of Konsortium Transnasional Berhad – Malaysia’s largest (and probably most complicated – see corporate structure here) public transport consortium and owner of well known public transport brands Transnasional, Nice and Plusliner.

The item below is quoted from the KTB website.

Cityliner – Negeri Sembilan Operations

Just like the two regions above, this region is an operations merger of four subsidiary companies under Jelebu Holdings Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary (83.2%) company of Park May Berhad that operates in Western part of Negeri Sembilan with two other subsidiary companies of KKMB, i.e. Starise Sdn Bhd and the stage bus outfit of Syarikat Rembau Tampin Sdn Bhd that operates the Eastern part of Negeri Sembilan. A Regional Manager was appointed to lead one integrated team to focus on the profitability of running the entire stage bus operations in Negeri Sembilan. The resulted merger has a capacity of running approximately 215 permits/buses. Besides running ordinary routes in housing areas and on main roads of Negeri Sembilan, the Cityliner buses here also serve the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) from Seremban, Nilai and Banting.

Now, we are really not happy. We could understand if a small bit-player was forced into stopping service because of continuous loss-making operations. But this is the largest public transport consortium in the country! Can they not find a way to keep services running?

In any case, read the articles. We will provide links to the various articles and comments after the jump.

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We can’t make this stuff up: Melaka Monorail traps passengers (Update #2)

  • Update: We are certainly confused about the different information from the NST and The Star!
  • Update: SPAD has investigated the service disruption and ordered a 48-hour closure of the Melaka Monorail!

TRANSIT took note of this article in The Star which displays an amazing coincidence combined with a not quite unexpected event.

The Melaka Monorail stopped for approximately 20 minutes yesterday, trapping the (British tourist) couple aboard – possibly with 18 other passengers (according to the NST report below):

But according to the original newspaper article about the incident, the incident occurred at exactly 1:11pm. As you know, yesterday was 1 November 2011 – or 1-11-11 – meaning that the fault occurred at 1:11 1-11-11.

Not to mention that the above articles state different information about the incident. The NST says there were 20 passengers aboard and they were removed with a skylift. The Star says there were two passengers aboard (the British couple) and they exited the monorail using a steel ladder (this borne out by the photo).

Monorail traps British duo (The Star)
Wednesday November 2, 2011

Off-track: Anne descending from the monorail using a ladder after the service came to a halt Tuesday. Image courtesy of The Star.

MALACCA: The city’s monorail service came to an abrupt halt at 1.11pm on 1.11.11, trapping two British tourists for about 20 minutes.

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A cable car in Port Dickson? How about reviving the rail link first?

Update: Paul Singh of KL writes that the NS Government should “First, bring back the sparkle to PD” by cleaning up the water & beaches!

TRANSIT took note of an interesting announcement from the Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan, indicating that the state government plans to build a cable car link between Port Dickson’s new “waterfront township” and nearby Pulau Arang.

Pulau Arang will also be upgrade with more water chalets and a jetty, with international CIQ facilities and lots of tourism-related and M.I.C.E. related facilities.

But as nice as this sounds, TRANSIT has to wonder how the government has forgotten about the importance of reviving the Port Dickson rail link … something that the MB called for back in April of this year.

MB: Project to connect PD Waterfront with Pulau Arang will boost tourism (The Star)
Thursday August 11, 2011

SEREMBAN: The country’s first proposed mainland-to-island cable car will be built in Port Dickson as part of the RM2bil PD Waterfront project.

The cable car project, spanning 750m, will link the new PD Waterfront township with Pulau Arang, an uninhabited island.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the project would further help boost tourism in Port Dickson.

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Updates #93

Updates #93

1. Article: Malacca to be bicycle friendly (6 July 2011) – Melaka CM Mohd Ali Rustam announced an initiative to introduce bus lanes into Melaka. He also promised to ride to work every Friday.

Leading the way: Mohd Ali (front right) with fellow state leaders cycling to Seri Negeri. Image courtesy of The Star.

[TRANSIT: We couldn’t resist posting the picture above.]

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Updates #61 (more bites on Melaka’s ‘snail-pace’ Monorail and Cheras’ new Shopping Haven!)

Updates #61

1. Article: Commuters want bus service to ply their area (The Star) – Teluk Intan residents are looking for a revival of bus service in Lower Perak.

TRANSIT: Perhaps someone should tell them there is no money to support a decent bus service because KL needs an MRT network.

2. Letter to Editor: Loyal commuter hopes KTM will be more considerate (Sinar Harian) – A loyal user of Seremban-Sg Buloh KTM Komuter service wrote on his frustrations over more than half-an-hour wait for a train to arrive, and for the significantly increased journey period spent per trip, which he squarely blamed on the introduction of the ETS Service from KL to Ipoh. The male writer wanted KTM to not only look at the women-only coach designation, but to improve capacity to combat overcrowding.

TRANSIT: We wonder what happened to the Alor Gajah-Batu Gajah bypass proposal, which should solve the problem of managing freight-commuter services. Now, we have the ETS (another hi-tech name for the typical Commuter EMU service), together with freight, diesel intercity and KTM Komuter. And in the GTP Roadmap, the government is looking for 5 minutes headway for KTM Komuter in the near future. Brouhaha!

Perhaps someone should tell the writer there is no need to support the existing Komuter service because, what he really need is a futuristic MRT service.

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Melaka tram project gets the nod?

TRANSIT took note of the following article which states that the Melaka Tram project has been approved by the Department of Railways.

Tram project gets the nod (NST)
30 September 2010

MALACCA: Visitors to the Historical City could soon enjoy a traffic light-free ride from the Ayer Keroh toll plaza to the city centre, thanks to the Melaka Tram project.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the Department of Railways had given the nod for the project.

TRANSIT: Technically the Department of Railways no longer exists and is part of SPAD…or maybe it isn’t? Either way, we want to know if SPAD approves the project.

“However, we would have to wait for the green light from the Public Works Department as there is a need to build four flyovers to ensure the path of the Melaka Tram is not affected by traffic-light junctions.

TRANSIT: Not to mention that the PWD and Road Transport Department might be a little bit concerned with the tram since it would involve digging up the road and placing rails into the roads (assuming this is a rail tram and not a “tram” on wheels).

“The flyovers would be built at the Persimpangan Seri Negeri, Persimpangan Bukit Beruang-Bukit Katil, Persimpangan MBMB and the Persimpangan Muzium Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba.

“With the flyover, the tram’s journey will be uninterrupted and the traffic flow from the Ayer Keroh toll plaza to the city centre will be smooth as there will be no traffic lights,” said Ali after chairing the weekly state executive council meeting at the Seri Negeri yesterday.

TRANSIT: Does this mean that the tram will fly over the intersection by itself, or that there will be a “road + tram” flyover, or does this mean that they will build road flyovers and the tram is really a bus on wheels (like the “trams” in JB and Kuala Terengganu)

He said the RM272 million tram project, similar to the one in Brisbane, Australia, could start construction early next year once the project received public feedback during a three-month objection period and also upon completion of the environmental impact assessment.

TRANSIT: Brisbane hasn’t had a tram service for around 50 years!

The Melaka Tram would have 23 stops along a 40km-route from Ayer Keroh to Banda Hilir, the heart of the historical city.

The project, a joint venture between Mrails International Sdn Bhd and Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), is expected to be completed within a year. He said the project was mainly to cater for the influx of tourists to the city.

It is estimated that 250,000 passengers will use the trams monthly, providing an annual revenue of RM20 million.

Among the popular spots the tram will pass are Hotel Seri Malaysia, Botanical Gardens, Melaka Zoo, Melaka International Trade Centre, Taman Muzaffar Shah, Pantai Hospital, Masjid Al-Azim, Hospital Melaka, Renaissance Hotel, Dataran Pahlawan, Hotel Mahkota, Harbour Club, Equatorial Hotel and Bukit Baru.


We have not been very confident on the tram project, mainly because of 2 things: Ali Rustam’s public transport track record, and the presence of MRails International. To give you a few examples: