Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh, For An Improved Public Transport....

Being a Klang Valley denizen for a mighty long time gives me enough standing to argue on the merits and demerits of public transport in this area. Actually, anyone who's lived here an even shorter time than I had, would still have the standing to do so.

But I'll just talk about the report I read in the Sunday Star (H e r e) that many people, as a cost-cutting measure to overcome the effects of the sharp rise in fuel prices, have opted to use public transport.

If that's true, hurray. I am all for traveling on public transport.

But I, unlucky me, am not one of the scores of people who can use the bus or train as an alternative mode of travelling.
And taxis? I'd say I'll avoid using them, if I can help it. We all agree on why. They're never around when you need them during peak hours. And when they are, they call the shots, bullying passengers into paying more, sans the meter.
Of course, you have your own horror stories about them.

You see, for me, using public transport is not an option. I don't live near an LRT station and there are no bus stops near where I live. So, it is too inconvenient for me to travel by bus or LRT.

So...lucky you guys who can make that switch.

If, say tomorrow, by some lucky stroke, there is an efficient public transport system near me, I'll definitely switch to using it, so that I can leave my car at home.

So, when I read the Bernama news (below), I thought I would have that option of switching to public transport (read: buses or trains) some time in the future.

But, the government has a different idea of what public transport is, and therefore, of how it can be improved. That's why it is having more taxis operating in the Klang Valley (giving soft loans to taxi operators) and/or issuing more taxi permits. ADOI!

It looks like my good ole SUV will remain my trusted travel/transport mode for a mighty long time more.

It's been such a long time since I boarded a bus for city travel in the Klang Valley.
And aah....I kinda miss those mini buses.

PUTRAJAYA, Thurs -- Another RM100 million will be injected into the RM300 million Public Transport Development Fund to improve the quality of public transportation service in the country.

Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Noh Omar said the additional fund would be used a soft loans for private taxi operators to purchase new vehicles.

"This is in line with the ministry's proposal to lift the freeze on the issuance of taxi permits to individual owners which will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting next week," he told reporters after a function at his ministry here Thursday.

Noh said the freeze on new taxi permits would be lifted in view of the high demand for taxi service. The Klang Valley alone required another 3,000 taxis, he added.

The ministry stopped issuing new taxi permits to companies and individuals on Sept 10, 2004 but applications from cooperatives are allowed.-- BERNAMA

12 comments:

khensthoth said...

Here in Melbourne, public transportation is significantly better. I walk 1-2 minutes to the nearest tram stop, the nearest train station is 10 minutes walk away, and the nearest bus stop is 5 minutes away.

In Malaysia, however, I have to walk at least 10 minutes and cross a freaking 4-lane main road to get to a simple bus stop.

And, as I have already said, taxi is not considered a kind of public transport per se, and if it is, it would be one of the least efficient.

Jane Smith said...

My car had to go through an overhaul last year and I was "immobilised" for almost a month. I live in Bangsar and the nearest city bound bus stop is about 20 minutes walk. I could call for a cab. But they're damn arrogant bunch of people. Just because I live in Bangsar, they'd only pick me up if I offer "tambah 5" or "tambah 10" on top of the fare according to the meter. These "tambah 5" or "tambah 10" depending on the time of the day, means that you're willing to fork out additional RM5 or RM10 to the actual fare.

I learned about this when I was venting at a particular taxi driver that it's so difficult to get cabs in my area. Then, he taught me the "tambah 5" trick. According to him, I have to tell the taxi radio operator the "code" and it will then be broadcasted to the drivers roaming the area. Apparently, this trend was started by the expat community in KL. Anyway, I tried the method when I was desparate to get to a meeting on time. And it works.

What pisses me off is when I go for my morning or evening runs, I noticed taxis parked under the shed in my area. They're waiting for the "best offer" to come. Easy job for them, huh?

Otherwise, I would opt for the LRT and bus service. I am actually very impressed with the connectivity of the RapidKL buses. Unfortunately, you got to learn about the connectivity and routes from the RapidKL supervisor at any of its hub because they don't print bus routes and schedule. Well, they did but only when they first introduced the new routes, change of bus numbers and hubs.

Another problem with RapidKL is that the bus drivers like to take their break as and when they like. So, the departure time from the hub is always not consistent. It's not because of the traffic jam. It's because when one takes a break, the rest will take a break, too. And you're left waiting for them to come back for up to an hour sometimes.

That's the reason why KLites prefer to drive. RapidKL is so unreliable when it comes to schedule. The drivers often said that they cannot follow a schedule because of the unpredictable traffic condition. I don't buy that.

In Singapore, the public transport operator issues and updates their bus schedule regularly. There is indeed a schedule. They're committed to the public that the bus will arrive at a particular stop at a certain time. But there is a disclaimer saying that during peak hours, there might be a 10-15 minutes delay. Otherwise, they're always on schedule.

So, when I read the story in The Sunday Star yesterday saying that people are going public these days, I don't really believe it. They probably only use the LRT and not the bus.

Kak Aina, I still use the bus service even after I got my car back. I'd park the car at the nearest bus stop. It's a good way to save petrol(even before the price hike) and on the exorbitant parking fee in the city centre. I will only do this when I'm not rushing.

You can also do the same since there's no bus stop in your area. No excuse not to take the bus :) The bus ride is comfortable and it'll stretch your ringgit further.

Monster Mom said...

Improving public transport goes beyond increasing the number of taxis. Hope the government and supposedly its think-tank will consider other factors...
When will they walk the talk?

nurhidayaty said...

salam puan..

I was about to post the same topic ,,but more related with Shah Alam public transport.They are nightmare to public users here..

allurban said...

If we can separate the politics from the planning and development, transport in Malaysia can be improved quite easily.

The 10 Correct Steps for Better Public Transportation are simple and realitively easy to implement...and they have worked throughout the world.

Read the 10 Steps and you will notice that the first 3 steps are about improving government regulation and oversight, the next 4 are for improved planning, and the last 3 are for improved operations.

Unless the government changes its attitude towards public transport, we cannot hope to see any real, long term improvements.

Cheers, mya

donplaypuks® said...

Dear Nuraini

Why no your 10 cents on RPK SDL? Surely it cannot be sub-judice to report news which has already reached foreign shores? Only bloggers have taken up the issue.

The self-censorship shown by MSM would be admirable if they had shown the same degree of consistent self-restraint during DSAI's and other cases. When RPK was arrested they were out there like a pack of rabid wolves before you could say 'Altantuya!'

Anyway, my 10 cents worth on the Great Transport Debate.

The Private Sector with its 'maximise profit' motive can never find an equitable solution for us. Equally, Govt subsidising of private companies through Petronas (Prasarna) etc also will not work.

Why? Becoz it's all been tried 30 years ago in UK & Europe and failed.

The only way forward is for the Govt to take it all back, set up a company like Petronas with a CEO of the highest integrity and commitment and tackle the problem.

And run it as a Govt concern like Education, Health and Welfare. The revenue from Road Tax, Highway Tolls & AP's should have been used to develope transport. Instead it has all gone into the wasteful hands of Croneys. But its still not too late.

The cost to the nation of a poor Transport System is billions of $ arising from excessive burning of fossil fuels, machines and time lost in delay of commercial businesses. Note the unused 1,500 buses lying in Scomi/Prasarna's? land in Rawang, like a graveyard for elephants!

The way to go fwd would be to increase investment in trains, buses, MRT's and trams and enforce (like S'pore) strict CBD traffic rules and penalties to minimise peak hour gridlocks & the key to it all, get the THE BEST MANAGEMENT!! Go by Meritocracy, and you can't go wrong.

Please refer to my blog at
http://donplaypuks.blogspot.com

Thursday, 22 May 2008
Malaysiakini's Transport Query ‘GRIDLOCK’ OR ‘FOR WHOM THE TOLLS BELL IN BOLEHLAND’

Tq.

donplaypuks

Jonnes said...

Very interesting articles and comments in The Sunday Star yesterday that this price hike seems to be just the shove we as people, but most importantly the gov to finally look at the public transport issues seriously. I really hope they carry this out thoroughly. We need to put more attention in matters like this, instead of being hoodwinked around by personal political agendas and plots.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

and as usual, the disabled community are being left out, yet again. hooray!

Caklempong said...

Kak,

When we were rapidly industrialising in the 1980s, and during the good times of the 1990s, why the ferocious drive to sell Proton cars and neglect developing a coherent, integrated, systematic public transportation system?

In terms of public transportation, Abdullah Badawi is facing the full brunt of what has been left behind for him by the previous prime minister.

Dua-dua perdana menteri pun 2x5, 5x2.

Anonymous said...

OH IMPROVED PUBLIC TRANNSPORT...CONSIDER THIS.ELECTION COMES,MINISTER CHANGE THEN POLICY CHANGE THEN BEUROCRACY CHANGE,IMPLENTATION CHANGE AND MANY MORE CHANGES EXCEPT ONE.. IMPROVEMENT NO CHANGE ON THAT ONE

commuter said...

I live in southern Sweden at the moment and the transportation system is excellent. Everywhere you go, there is bound to be a bus stop, complete with timetables for every minute of the day and with buses arriving exactly on time. At certain bus stops there are electronic boards informing commuters which buses are arriving in exactly how many more minutes. So, if the timetable says bus no 5 will arrive at 18:27, you can bet it will be there at 18:27, not 18.25 or 18:30. I remember those dreaded buses of KL, with no timetables and with me waiting for hours wondering whether the bus is ever coming.

The trains in Sweden and also wonderfully on time. If there has been some kind of delay due to animals crossing the tracks or technical problems, the board will immediately flash an alert saying that the arrival time has changed and announcements will be made over the PA system. The entire transportation system including all types of buses and trains use the same travel card and ticketing system so that you don't have to carry many cards or buy different tickets. They're all synchronised. If you've just used you rebate card to purchase a ticket on the bus' ticket machine, you'll get an automatic discount when you get off the bus and buy a train ticket at the ticket machine. All buses and trains' communications are synchronised. It's a well-oiled machine.

The buses and train also run on environmentally friendly fuel which is produced by reusing the garbage collected from the population and the CO2 emited from the incineration of garbage is collected and sold to companies that break the CO2 down to produce fuel for certain ships equipped to use them and water as the by product! Everything falls nicely into place, no garbage, minimal CO2 emission, fuel, great transport. Some may say Malaysia is not rich like Sweden so we can't have all the hi tech environmentally friendly stuff. Fine, let's start with accurate time tables and punctuality. Is it very expensive and hi tech to print time tables and plan a good system to make sure the buses come on time? We do have bus lanes now so buses don't really get stuck in traffic jams. I don't think it's unfair to demand a convenient scheme of synchronised ticketing since we do waste a lot of money on useless but expensive stuff anyway, like the billion dollar CIQ that is now a white elephant. Surely we can fork out a few million to put the ticketing in place, provided we don't give the project to some crony who knows nuts about ticketing systems but inflate the price of the project.

Regarding bicycles, I don't think it's quite fair to compare between places with cooler climate and Malaysia. It is practical, pleasant even, for people in Beijing or Amsterdam or southern Sweden, especially the latter two where the land is flat, to ride bicycles in the cool air. I can't imagine riding a bicycle in KL in the sweltering heat. I'd be all sweaty and tired and dirty by the time I get to class/work/etc. It's just ot practical. Besides, there are few bicycle lanes in KL and the highways. So, it's not only impractical but also dangerous to ride a bicycle in KL. Not many Malaysians feel compelled to stop at the zebra crossing for pedestrians to cross the road or to give way to cyclists unless it's Le Tour de Langkawi with police cars and outriders and roadblocks.

So, it all boils down to attitude. The attitude of the government to want to provide a convenient system for the people and attitude of the people to care for these system and of others. Right now, the government lack political will and the people just tak kisah.

Navi said...

Nuraina, don't believe the bull they give you about improving public transport. I have been all for using public transport way before the rise in petrol prices. My 45 minute journey by car became a 2 and half hour of misery when I tried the buses. They were jam packed, there was no turning room and the stench of bad breath and body odour made me claustrophobic and by the time I reached the nearest bus stand to my office, I was partially drenched,; the crowded bus made the air conditioning ineffective.
It was no better taking the commuter train.