Letter: Spell out the expectations

TRANSIT takes note of this very pointed and thoughtful letter in the New Straits Times on 20 July 2009.

BUS/TAXI SERVICES: Spell out the expectations
2009/07/20

JOSEPH PAUL, Seremban

AS Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has said, public transport companies are expected to improve their level of service after the fare hike.

Buses should follow the schedule and be punctual.
Buses should follow the schedule and be punctual.

It is important to spell out specifically what changes we expect and how he expects these changes to happen. Otherwise, it is wishful thinking.

If he is serious about expecting an improvement in service quality, he could start by enumerating some key components of service quality in the public transport system.

Here are a few components from the perspective of the customer:

FOR BUSES: Punctuality according to the schedule that is displayed; no overcrowding; comfortable bus stops; air-conditioning that works; and commuter safety.

FOR TAXIS: Availability at all reasonable times like mornings and evenings; properly calibrated meters; no picking and choosing passengers according to destination; cleanliness and courtesy.

Can we expect improvements in all of the above? What targets has the minister set? What specific measures has he planned to make these changes happen? I am sure the minister is not so naive as to think that by merely increasing the fares, errant public transport operators are going to mend their ways.

He needs to do something different from what is being done currently, if service quality is to improve.

TRANSIT Says:

What Joseph Paul has written is quite timely in light of the increase in bus and taxi fares planned for August 1.

Clear expectations have to be set out by the government, in this case represented by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, and Federal Territories Minister Raja Nong Chik, for what is expected for public transport services.

The expectations also have to be realistic and designed towards progress.  There is no use demanding perfection, because if it is not achievable everyone gives up.

With the state of the taxi industry as it is, with no benefits or incentives for taxi drivers, can we reasonably expect every single taxi driver to use the meter? If we have an unreachable expectation then we will fail – so why not find a reachable expectation that we can improve on constantly?

Similarly, with the state of public transport and the state of our roads as it is, can we reasonably hope for buses to be able to stick to a schedule and not be overcrowded at all times?

So perhaps we can relax our expectations for the peak hours in the weekday mornings (7:00-9:30 am) and evenings (5:00-7:00 pm) when many cars are on the road.

Most bus services have daily operating hours from 5:30-11:30.  In other words, we can gain a lot of good hours of service by having high expectations for the weekday off-peak hours — not to mention, the weekends.

So how do we do it? We start with a push for bus schedules on the weekdays during the early and late hours and on the weekends — times when congestion is not an excuse.

On the weekdays we push the companies to focus on frequency schedules – service every 5-10-20 minutes or whatever it might be.

On top of that, we have to push the local government to introduce protected bus lanes, so that the buses can maintain that reliability and frequency.

And finally, we the public transport users also have to get involved.  If you wait for your bus for a very long time, then let RapidKL know.

Whenever you have any complaints about bus service, call 03-7625 6999 and give them:

  • the route# (eg. B101)
  • the bus ID code (eg. X111)
  • the date and time
  • your location
  • other details (eg. how long you had to wait)

In order to improve public transport all of use need to stand up for public transport.

Minister Nazri and Minister Raja Nong Chik are the ones who should lead the way.

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