When will we see public transport as a public utility?

We at TRANSIT spent the weekend thinking about public transport and the public perception of public transport. We wondered why Malaysians are still stuck in the mindset that public transport is a service for the poor, which, ironically, must be provided by private companies (which does not really work), with competition to keep prices low (which does not really work) and low government interference & regulation (which does not really work).

On top of that, we would probably not be wrong in assuming that the average Malaysian supports improvements to public transport so that other people can use it … thus freeing the roads for their cars. Unfortunately, that attitude also does not really work.

(Do you sense a theme here???)

You might ask why TRANSIT has become so thoughtful this weekend. You might also ask why we haven’t made posts in such a long time but we will leave that for another post.

What inspired us was this letter by Y.S. Chan of KL which basically complains about the shift of RapidKL’s Cheras-bound bus services from the Klang Bus Stand/Jalan Sultan Mohammed bus terminal (at Pasar Seni LRT station) to the Sinar Kota bus stand.

Y.S.Chan opines that this shift is the result of “arbitary decisions” made by GLCs which are possible thanks to a lack of guidelines. Y.S. Chan also laments that direct competition from RapidKL might be the first step to putting SJ Bus out of business.

And we thought the move was just because the Klang Bus Stand was going to close as of 1 November 2011. Perhaps there is something deeper?

Bus guidelines needed (The Star)
Sunday October 23, 2011

SINCE last Saturday, something new and bizarre is taking place in the streets of Kuala Lumpur – at Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin to be exact.
Continue reading

Updates #98

Updates #98

1. Article: Firm denies using taxi coupons to make ‘easy money’ (NST, 10 August 2011) – Mohd Nasir Mohd Rashid, Exec. Chairman of MESRA Indah Jaya Sdn. Bhd. which operates the taxi coupon system in Johor Baru, has denied allegations that it is making an “RM2 profit from the sale of coupons as alleged” but only “taking a 10 per cent commission to cover our maintenance and management costs.”

2. Article: Bandar Kinrara 3 residents want Station 5 moved (The Star, 9 August 2011)

3. Article: SPAD to boost Raya road safety (The Malay Mail, 10 August 2011) – SPAD’s first time participating in the annual Balik Kampung / Hari Raya safety campaign, from 14 August – 14 September including investigation & checking of public transport vehicles “round-the-clock”. Unfortunately, we also read this article: Article: Meddling riders a problem, drivers say (The Star, 11 August 2011) in which JPJ director-general Solah Mat Hassan appears to blame passengers for asking questions and pressuring drivers into driving faster.

Express bus passengers should ensure a safe journey by not pressuring their drivers unnecessarily, said Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan.

He said passenger pressure was a big concern for many drivers who felt pressured to drive faster to reach their destination quickly.

“Some always ask ‘what time will we reach?’ Passengers must not give drivers this unnecessary pressure.

TRANSIT: What nonsense! As if passengers asking “are we there yet?” is the only factor behind our unsafe buses?

4. Articles: NST has two articles about the upcoming Balik Kampung rush: Continue reading

Updates #97


Updates #97

1. Article:  Flaming bus at depot (The Malay Mail, 2 August 2011) – A bus parked at its depot in Segambut unexpectedly burst into flames yesterday afternoon, shortly after the driver had finished his shift.

INFERNO: Black smoke billowing from the blazing vehicle. Image courtesy of The Malay Mail.

2. Article: New air-conditioned bus stop opens its door in Zest Point @ Kinrara 9 (The Star, 30 July 2011)

Fostering communities: Trinity Group claims to have built the first air-conditioned bus stop in Malaysia at the Trinity-owned Zest Point @ Kinrara 9. Image courtesy of The Star.

[TRANSIT: As far as we recall, this may not be the first air-conditioned bus stop in Malaysia (there was one built in Malacca) but at least it is the first in the Klang Valley]

3. Article: RapidKL service from KL Sentral to BU not efficient, say passengers (The Star, 1 August 2011)

4. Long wait for bus home (Malay Mail, 1 August 2011)

5. Article: Four LRT stations are now disabled-friendly (The Star, 1 August 2011)

6. Article: Operator yet to relocate buses (NST, 31 July 2011) – A group of business operators in Bukit Indah, JB, are upset that Handal Indah Sdn Bhd, which runs the fleet of Causeway Link stage buses, has yet to relocate its buses from Jalan Indah 15/3 despite the issue being highlighted 8 months ago.

Two Causeway Link buses parked on a stretch of road in Bukit Indah recently. — Picture by Chuah Bee Kim / NST

7. Letter: Cabbies have only themselves to blame (The Star, 1 August 2011) – Frustrated cab user of Ampang writes that cabbies should accept that their actions are the reason a coupon system exists.

8. Commentary: It’s possible to solve traffic woes (NST, 1 August 2011) – Fazlene Aziz comments on traffic solutions for the Klang Valley, arguing that while parking solutions may help a bit, improved public transport is the real solution.

[TRANSIT: On a lighter note, perhaps our KL Mayor and FT Minister can learn a bit of teaching lesson to rectify reckless parking behaviors from the mayor of the city of Vilnius (Lithuania), in which he ran a tank over an illegally parked luxury car. Oh wait, we don’t even have a bicycle lane in downtown KL!

9. Article: Thousands of cheap tickets on ETS till year end (The Star, 2 August 2011) – ETS Sdn. Bhd. is allocating 64,800 “koc 1 Rakyat” seats at a lower price (RM16) for grabs until the end of the year for the Ipoh – Kuala Lumpur Sentral route. Apparently there will be 30 seats per train priced at the lower rate.

10. Commentary: Spare a thought for the disabled (NST, 2 August 2011) – Nuradzimmah Daim comments on accessibility issues.

11. Letter: Towards better taxi service (The Malay Mail 3 August 2011) – YS Chan of KL comments on the taxi issue.

12. Article: ‘Avoid touts for a hassle-free trip’ (NST, 29 July 2011) – The first of the Ramadan Balik Kampung warnings.

13. Article: Flats residents in Sungai Besi want a bus stop shelter (The Star, 6 August 2011)

14. Letter: Build MRT in a cost-effective way (The Star, 6 August 2011) – Rail Mad of Bandar Utama wonders why so much land needs to be acquired in Jalan Sultan for an underground MRT station.

15. Article: Raya bus, train ticket nearly sold out (NST, 6 August 2011)

Why must public transport users make a ‘leap of faith’ all the time?

TRANSIT took note of this article in the NST which discusses the challenges that bus users often face in Malaysia – congestion and unsafe travel.

In this specific case, the article is referring to passengers who have to disembark from buses into “live” lanes, avoiding other traffic, motorcycles, etc.

According to the NST, "passengers are forced to climb on or off the bus in the middle of the road as the bus stops are hogged by parked cars." TRANSIT: It's not always true. Do you see any parked cars this time? Sometimes the reason is unprofessional drivers.

The usual reasons are congestion, including cars parked at bus stops or layby lanes but sometimes the reason is really unprofessional drivers and management not caring (or caring but not being able to do much).

Unfortunately, our fractured public transport system does not encourage the efficient management of public transport – meaning that these issues remain unresolved to this day.

It is funny that some people (often with good intentions) believe that people need to have more faith in the public transport system and demonstrate this by taking the bus – but do not call for more efforts from the operators & other stakeholders to improve the quality & professionalism of the service.

In other words, they want public transport users to take a leap of faith, without expecting or asking for any improvements & actions from the government & operators. Well, that is just not good enough.

Leap of Faith (NST)

14 July 2011

Commuters risk their lives alighting from buses that stop in the middle of the road instead of at the bus stop

Passengers should only board or alight at the bus stops for their own safety. Image courtesy of NST. TRANSIT: That assumes that the bus comes close to the bus stop. This one hasn't though there is no traffic. What is the reason for this?

KUALA LUMPUR: Bus passengers are disembarking in the middle of the road because buses are prevented from stopping at the bus stops by motorists using the stops as their personal pick and drop-off points. Continue reading

Bus stops are for buses, not cars!

TRANSIT took note of this article in The Malay Mail with an excellent photo of a banner placed at a bus stop in Desa Petaling in the hope of reminding drivers that they should not park their cars at the bus stop.

MAKING A STATEMENT: The banner at the bus-stop in Desa Petaling reminding motorists not to park there. Prasarana says it was put up by some other party. Image courtesy of The Malay Mail.

Ironically, the person who brought this to the attention of The Malay Mail was complaining about service on RapidKL’s U48 bus – and apparently does not like the banner either:

“It is bad enough that the U48 bus service from Desa Petaling to Bukit Bintang is poor but to endure this unprofessional-looking banner above my head while waiting?

Continue reading

Occasional closure of ‘shortcut’ bridge at Ampang LRT station generates complaints

TRANSIT took note of this interesting hotline story sharing passenger complaints about the availability of the ‘shortcut’ bridge at Ampang LRT station.

The retractable ‘shortcut’ bridge is used to connect the concourse area of the Ampang LRT station to the ‘island’ platform. As such it passes over a section of live track (referred to as Track 2). When the bridge is retracted, customers must climb the stairs to access the platform as there are no lifts or escalators at Ampang LRT station.

Since service on the Ampang line spur is relatively infrequent (6 minutes between trains during peak hours, 14 minutes daytime, and 18 minutes off peak), the ‘shortcut’ is usually available. However, in some cases trains are parked on track 2 and occasionally, active trains are using track 2.

‘Shortcut’ woes at Ampang LRT (Malay Mail)

EE ANN NEE
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

CLOSED: The bridge being pulled back to allow train to be 'parked'. Image courtesy of The Malay Mail.

WITH the increasing clamour for public transport facilities to be made more user-friendly, especially for the disabled, elderly and pregnant women among others, we find, once again, such a facility apparently doing the opposite. Continue reading

Updates #90


Updates #90

1. Article: Close shave for six schoolgirls (NST, 18 June 2011) – Six secondary school students in Georgetown had a close shave yesterday after the school bus they were in overturned in Jalan Mount Erskine.

The school bus lying on its side after the crash in Jalan Mount Erskine, Penang, yesterday. — NST picture by Norhayati Umor

2. Article: Country’s first electric motorcycle launched (The Star, 16 June 2011) – Modenas CTric was launched by the Transport Minister.

[TRANSIT: So wait, now you like electric motorcycles?]

3. Article: Taiwan high speed rail ‘sinking’ (APF, 14 June 2011) – Along a stretch of rail in central Taiwan, the soil has subsided due to excessive draining of ground waters, and the limit of what is considered safe is approaching, said Lee Hong-yuan, head of the Public Construction Commission.

4. Article: Reining in the trains (The Star, 18 June 2011) – Chan How Ban’s column on China focuses on High Speed Rail, including government plans to reduce service speeds on the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail from 350km/h to 300 km/h to reduce operational costs. There will also be a service operating at 250km/h to show respect for those who want a slower pace.

[TRANSIT: If 250km/h is showing respect for those who want a slower pace, then KTMB is probably one of the most respectful companies in the railway industry.]

5. Article: RapidKL promises investigations – this comes in response to complaints about RapidKL’s U40 bus service in Kajang.

6. Article: JB-S’pore rail link to connect with new MRT line – Basically, the Thompson Line will terminate at Republich Polytechnic, where passengers can access Rapid Transit System (RTS) services to JB.

[TRANSIT: Thanks to Ethan for that clarification. Of course we know no details about the RTS so far but it looks like a separate crossing is going to be built.]

7. NKRA Update: Pemandu updates with articles in the various media on the Urban Public Transport NKRA.

8. Letter: No logic to segregation (Malay Mail, 13 June 2011) – Complaints about women-only services

9. Artikel: Bas U69 Selalu Lewat (Harian Metro, hb. 14 Jun 2011) – Mohamed Hazlan dari Prasarana / RapidKL membalas surat tentang perkhidmatan bas RapidKL.

10. Article: Cameron Highlands bus crash file with A-G (NST, 14 June 2011 – The report on the Cameron Highlands bus crash has been completed and shared with the Cabinet and is now with the Attorney-General’s Office. However, there is currently no plan to lay charges.

11. Article: MRCB poised to clinch RM800m LRT contract (Business Times, 15 June 2011) – self explanatory.

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