Commentary: Klang folk are still upset over the relocation away from town

TRANSIT noted this commentary in the Star newspaper today, which shows clearly that the Klang Sentral issue is still relevant – even though the controversy may have died down.  Since Elan Parumal has written so well about the issue there is not much for TRANSIT to say – but look for comments between quotes from the article.

Klang folk are still upset over the relocation away from town

Elan Perumal Tuesday February 10, 2009

THE relocation of the Klang transportation operation from the town centre to the Klang Sentral in Meru, about 10km away, is fast making the state and local authorities lose the goodwill of the public.

TRANSIT says:

One hopes that the government will understand that the free and efficient movement of people and goods is a very important part of the economy and it must be made as efficient as possible.  TRANSIT believes that Transport is the “4th issue” of the major political issues (Education, Health, and the Economy are the other three) that can bring problems to a government.

Surely, the authorities should realise by now that their unpopular and unwise decision to shift the bus terminal operation to the RM12mil custom-built transport hub is causing much damage to their relationship with the general public, in particular the majority low-income group who are dependent on public transport to get around.

TRANSIT says:

It is unfortunate that the MPK has not accepted that their decision to move bus services to Klang Sentral was an ad hoc decision that would not sit will with the public and the industry.

TRANSIT believes that the North Klang bus terminal should have been retained, with incentives from the state and local governments to encourage service to the Klang Sentral terminal.

There are several reasons the move is unwise, unreasonable and unacceptable.

First, the location is too far for the poor commuters who are generally residents in and around the town centre. To board a bus to travel to their destination, they will have to go the Klang Sentral in Meru, about 10km away. They will need to board a bus in town to get to Meru, costing them extra financial burden and wasting valuable time.

Secondly, the location of the new transport hub is certainly not too appropriate as Meru is by all accounts a modern township with its residents being relatively well-off, comprising people of the middle and upper classes. These people do not need to depend on public transport as almost all of them have cars.

It is the low-income and the poor living in and around the Klang town centre who really depend on the public transport system to get around. The old North Klang terminal has been an economic lifeline for most of them.

Thirdly, the contention that the relocation of the public transport operation is necessary to ease the daily traffic havoc in the royal town does not hold water.

TRANSIT says:

Elan’s explanation of the situation is quite correct although he uses the most simple observations about public transport users.  TRANSIT believes that Klang Sentral presents a great opportunity for enhanced public transport service.  With Klang Sentral there is now another corridor for bus traffic (using the NKVE-DUKE combination) into Kuala Lumpur.

There were at least four other such demonstrations around the district, including those at Jalan Taiping in North Klang and Kapar since the Klang Sentral transport hub was opened on Dec 27 last year.

From the tone of the messages sent through their protest posters and placards, the people just don’t want what used to be the hustling-bustling town centre to become a ghost town.

They believe that the move will result in some 1,000-odd businesses around the former terminal area dying an unnatural and unwarranted death.

TRANSIT says:

The economic benefits brought about by good, reliable, efficient public transport services cannot be denied.

A businessman, who wants to be identified only as Eng, asked why the MPK was “killing” its own projects such as the Plaza MPK and the old bus terminal.

Eng pointed out that the MPK had invested millions of ringgit to build the Plaza MPK in which the superstore Mydin is the anchor tenant.

He said the complex would become insignificant and dead without the bus terminal.

“I cannot understand the MPK rationale, spending RM700,000 to build the open-air bus terminal and then close it down after just two years,” Eng said.

“And the council is willing to jeopardise these projects implemented with public funds in order to ensure the success of a private project,’’ he said.

Eng is correct. The question of accountability, transparency and good governance of the MPK must be evaluated as almost RM150mil of public money has apparently gone down the drain.

TRANSIT says:

The MPK really needs to explain why it is managing its resources in this manner.

Does it make sense if someone in the Klang town wanting to go to KL has to travel about 10km to the Klang Sentral to board a KL-Klang bus which then travels back 8km via the Federal Highway to KL?

This means travelling nearly an extra 18km one-way and also being subjected to a delay of about 40 minutes each time.

How can the authorities explain why commuters had to undergo this sort of treatment in the name of development and change?

TRANSIT says:

Certainly this does not make sense.  But, if the service were operating along the NKVE-DUKE corridor, one could take a bus from Klang to Jalan Duta or Ulu Kelang that would be quick, convenient and rapid.

The commuters, business operator and the NGOs are, however, hoping that the Selangor state government will intervene to rectify the situation.

Their only hope lies in the hands of Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who in December last year had directed the MPK to restructure the services of the buses by the end of this month.

TRANSIT says:

A lot of hope has been put on the Menteri Besar of Selangor…but sadly, it does not appear that things are going to work out any time soon.  TRANSIT has continuously stated that planning does not happen in a vacuum and more effort needs to be made to consider all stakeholders before putting plans through.

To summarize, here is TRANSIT’s proposal for Klang

  • 3 terminals (Klang, Meru, and Bukit Tinggi), serving
  • 3 east-west corridors (NKVE, Federal Highway, KESAS), and
  • 2 north-south corridors (Meru-Klang-Banting and Kapar-Klang-Kota Kemuning).

All services will be Bus Rapid Transit or Expressway Rapid Transit, with buses running in busways in the centre of major roads/expressways.

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5 thoughts on “Commentary: Klang folk are still upset over the relocation away from town”

  1. Here is a posting from the blog of MP Charles Santiago

    http://votecharles.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/boycott-turns-transport-hub-into-a-ghost-town/

    “Shira Express bus operations manager Suhaizam Md Shah said the company had 17 buses that provided services from Johor Baru to Haatyai.

    He said business had dropped by more than 70% and he hardly had 10 passengers for each trip.

    “We have decided not to use the terminal in order to escape the RM10 per trip charge that we have to pay every time our buses enter the terminal,’’ he said, adding that they had also paid a deposit of RM4,000 for using the bay.”

    And from the Malay Mail:

    “Residents are concerned that the new RM300mil Klang Sentral complex in Meru will result in a rapid escalation of travel expenses: Getting to Meru from town requires an additional fare — which can reach as high as RM14 if commuters are obliged to take a taxi — and transport operators face new costs (RM900 monthly rental for a ticketing counter as opposed to RM150 previously, and RM10 per bus docked versus RM2), which will in turn result in higher ticket prices.”

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