Ipoh bus hub: hold on, says TRANSIT

TRANSIT took note of these articles in media which are raising more awareness about public transport issues in Perak.

In the NST today it is reported that Nga Kor Ming, a former State Exco in Perak is urging current MB Zambry Abdul Kadir to improve public transport by continuing with the RM 38 million Ipoh Sentral bus hub project.  It was also reported by Bernama that the Menteri Besar of Perak Zambry Abdul Kadir, is expressing his views on public transport in the state.

Read the articles and see our comments below. We also provide a link to our proposals for Ipoh at the bottom of the post.

NST: Nga: Go ahead on RM38m bus hub

2009/06/30

IPOH: With Perak’s political and constitutional crisis taking a back seat, the public transport system woes here have once again gripped the attention of city folk. The issue regained top spot in recent days with numerous letters sent to newspaper editors and telephone calls to press offices to urge the state government resolve the problem speedily.

Even a former Pakatan Rakyat executive councillor has asked Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir to act fast.

Zambry gave his word yesterday that he would resolve the problem quickly, stressing that he understood the frustration of the city folk who had to put with the “miserable condition daily”.

“I want to assure the rakyat that I am serious about this issue. It has been going on for years now.”

Nga Kor Ming, former PR state executive councillor in charge of public transportation, had asked him to implement the Ipoh Terminal Hub project which was launched by the previous state government in August last year.

The hub, a privately funded initiative estimated at RM38 million, is akin to the Rapid KL/Rapid Penang model. [TRANSIT: The meaning of this phrase is unclear but they may be referring to the hub & spoke model]

He said the PR state government had signed an agreement with Combined Bus Services Sdn Bhd, a consortium of 14 Ipoh-based bus companies, to construct a modern terminal about 5km from here. [TRANSIT: Ipoh Sentral, but not in Ipoh]

Equipped with a shopping complex and wireless broadband facility, the hub was projected to be completed by the end of next year.

“I urge Zambry to resume the project. The state government is not losing anything because the whole project will be funded by the consortium,” he said, adding that the previous state government had approved a 3.5ha plot of land for the project.

Nga said the consortium had agreed to replace the old stage buses by purchasing 300 new ones.

Zambry said the state government needed time to restudy the details of the project before giving its go-ahead.

Bernama: Consortium Asked To Submit New Proposal To Improve Public Transportation System
June 29, 2009

IPOH, June 29 (Bernama) — The Perak state government has asked a consortium that is interested in improving the public transportation system to submit a new comprehensive proposal.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said the state government had asked the consortium to revise the proposal to ensure it did not burden the public.

He said the Consortium had earlier submitted a proposal but the government felt there were a number of issues that needed to be improved or included to improve the system.

“From the proposal they had submitted earlier, we see a number of issues. So, I have asked them to come back with a new proposal,” he told reporters after launching a Yayasan Perak programme here Monday.

However, the state government had not set any time frame for the submission of the new proposal, he said.

The Consortium, comprising 14 bus operators and known as Combined Bus Services Sdn Bhd, had initially made a proposal to the government to acquire 3.4 hectares in Meru Raya to build a new bus terminal.

Combined Bus Services, currently managing the public transportation system in Perak, had proposed to invest RM38 million to build the new bus terminal and RM150 million to buy 250 new air-conditioned buses. [TRANSIT: The former exco said 500 buses]

“Although the government has set the public transportation system on the top priority list, we want the public to enjoy a better and more effective system,” he said.

Zambry said the state government was also studying the need for local councils to bear the cost involved in introducing the new system at their respective areas.

The state government is also considering upgrading two existing bus terminals in Medan Kidd and Medan Gopeng, he said.

TRANSIT Says:

The following letter has been posted to the news media as well as other contacts.  A .pdf map of our proposal for a rapid transit system in Ipoh can be seen here.  Our presentation at the Kinta Valley forum can be seen here.  As always, your feedback is very welcome.

Dear Editor

RE: call to build 38 million Ipoh bus hub: Not so fast, says TRANSIT

Nga Kor Ming, former PR state executive councillor in charge of public transportation, had asked current Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir to implement the Ipoh Terminal Hub project which was launched by the previous state government in August last year. And it appears that Zambry is receptive to the idea, saying that “I want to assure the rakyat that I am serious about this issue [ public transport]. It has been going on for years now.”

And yet, the Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit wonders how serious these two YBs are about improving public transport.

Our observations since 2008 have showed us that the Pakatan governments are generally not receptive to the issues that we raised and did not display a commitment to improve public transport. Although the government of Penang has taken some slow steps forward, the other governments have done little. In Selangor and Perak it appears that the committment to improving public transport is limited to providing space for new terminals.

Although the idea of a new terminal and new facilities seems like a good one, experience has shown that new terminals often create more problems. In the Klang Valley, we have the experience of Klang Sentral, a suburban terminal located outside of the city centre which was intended to replace a popular urban terminal. In the Kinta Valley we have the current bus terminal, itself a replacement of a previous urban bus terminal that was very popular.

Klang Sentral has turned into a white elephant because it cannot attract urban bus operators to stop there. One can expect the same thing will happen at the proposed Ipoh Sentral terminal.

Suburban “hubs” (usually named “Sentral” but rarely centrally located) are poor replacements for urban terminals, which is why TRANSIT has already stated that urban public transport terminals need to be maintained.

It is said that the new bus hub is akin to the RapidKL/RapidPenang model but having a new terminal is meaningless without new and improved service. That is why RapidPenang, which has focused greatly on service, is so far ahead of RapidKL, and why both of those companies are miles ahead of their competition.

In Ipoh, the Pakatan governments signed a deal with a consortium of bus operators, Combined Bus Services, who would take over the operations of public transport and build the Ipoh Sentral terminal. But in the 1 year since the consortium was created, nothing is known about the operators who are in the consortium. Nor is there any information about the plans for the improvements to bus routes and bus service, or any requests for public feedback.

Contrast this with the KCBS Sdn Bhd, a consortium working to improve bus service in Kuching, Sarawak. KCBS is also looking at building a new terminal but they are also revamping the bus system to improve the quality of service and they are asking for feedback from the public.

TRANSIT, does not accept the idea that public transport services can be improved by private companies or by the government alone. This is why we promote the “4-Stakeholders Model” which brings together the 4 stakeholders in public transport – the Independent Public Transport Authority, the Bus Operator, the public and NGO, and the people’s representatives.

Whether Pakatan or BN, governments in Malaysia need to realize that they will not be able to really change public transport unless they are willing to work with the other stakeholders and participate in the process from beginning to end.

TRANSIT is ready to do our part.

Sincerely

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
on behalf of TRANSIT

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