RapidKL bus crash 14 July 2009

The 1pm, 14 July 2009 crash of a RapidKL bus onto the motorcycle lane of the eastbound federal highway dominated the news today. TRANSIT comments on the issues that are behind this crash.

Links to the articles are below:


Image of the bus before being lifted up from the motorcycle lane. Note the damage to the forward-facing seats compared to the sideways-mounted seats. Image courtesy of the Malay Mail
Image of the bus before being lifted up from the motorcycle lane. Note the damage to the forward-facing seats compared to the sideways-mounted seats. Image courtesy of the Malay Mail
Two cranes lift the rapidKL bus from the motorcycle lanes - image courtesy of the Malay Mail
Two cranes lift the rapidKL bus from the motorcycle lanes - image courtesy of the Malay Mail

See more images here.

A blog posting (including pictures) by a rider on that bus can be found here.

TRANSIT Says:

According to some reports, the bus (now identified as King Long bus 87 – code L087) on the U80 route from Shah Alam towards KL Sentral was cut off by a driver of a blue Proton Satria who was driving “aggressively”. However, the driver of the Satria claims otherwise.

“The bus tried to cut into my lane from the right and was going very fast,” Proton Satria driver Nabil Fikri Arshad, 24, told Malay Mail.

TRANSIT had earlier recommended that RapidKL consider installing forward-looking cameras on buses to help record views of the space in front of the bus.  For those of you who do not know, RapidKL already has two cameras on their buses – one mounted on the outside at the rear of the bus, and an interior camera to record images of the back door.

A forward-looking camera with a recording capability would be helpful to rapidKL because they could use it to monitor bus lanes and train drivers on routes.

In the incident on July 14, it is quite possible that a forward looking camera might have been able to capture images of what happened. It might be possible in other cases to capture the registration plate number of cars that cut off buses.

Also, we take note that it was widely reported in the media that the U80 (Shah Alam-KL route) bus smashed the ‘guardrail’ before plunging 15m off the flyover ramp near Universiti LRT station.

From the photos published, it is very clear that there is no crashworthy guardrail that is supposed to separate the pedestrian walkway from the fast moving traffic. The ‘guardrail’ mentioned by the media is merely a set of pedestrian railings that would not prevent even a light compact passenger car from plunging onto the motorcycle lane beneath.

TRANSIT believes that a proper wire rope safety barrier that can withstand the veering impact of heavy vehicles should be installed to protect the pedestrians and road and motorcycle users.

It is very easy for common road users to heap the blame on bus operators for interweaving across lanes of traffic dangerously in the Federal Highway (perhaps the only high speed motorway in the world with the highest number of bus stops per mile), but the crux of the problem lies on the total absence of coordination of bus services that serve the suburban corridor along the Federal Highway.

The implementation of Bus Rapid Transit with dedicated bus lanes along the Federal Highway (adapted from a succesful example like TransMillenio, profiled here) will help solve this problem

Unfortunately, so far the government has yet been receptive to prioritize public transport to best utilize the existing traffic infrastructure and systems in a holistic way as a solution to solve traffic-related woes in the Klang Valley.

M Zulkarnain Hamzah
Shah Alam

on behalf of TRANSIT

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