Interesting article about RapidPenang for our 301st post

TRANSIT wondered how we could make our 301st post memorable, and lo and behold, there was an interesting article about RapidPenang in the NST today.

Take these routes to comfort (NST)
2009/11/14

By Phuah Ken Lin

THE success of Rapid Penang underlines its ability to offer better services to commuters.

Rapid Penang has scaled new heights since its inception in August 2007.

The company recently became the only stage bus company in the country to provide real-time tracking system on bus locations.

The global positioning system (GPS), known as the Intelligent Commuter Information System (Rapid ICIS), has reduced waiting time for buses.

Rapid Penang was recently recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records for being the first stage bus company to install wi-fi on board its buses, and for being the first stage bus operator to achieve ISO 9001:2008 certification.

It is also the first stage bus company in the country to provide GPS services to commuters.

Chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad said the sky was the limit for the company and it would not rest on its laurels.

“We have expanded our fleet of buses from 150 to 350 and we have witnessed a rise in bus ridership.

“Our services have reduced traffic congestion with more people opting to commute to work on our buses.”

He said the traffic flow in Air Itam and Balik Pulau had improved during peak hours, especially in the mornings.

“Traffic jams have gone down by 20 per cent in main roads on the island.”

He praised residents who left their vehicles at home and opted to commute.

He attributed the change in mindset to the rapid ICS features, wi-fi enabled buses and the company’s ties with key players in the tourism industry.

Firefly passengers to Penang get a free bus ride from the Penang International Airport to Weld Quay.

[TRANSIT: How about something similar in KL from Subang Airport to KL town?]

“We are also exploring similar value-added services with other airlines such as AirAsia.”

Azhar said the recently-held Rapid Penang Fiesta, commemorating Rapid Penang’s two years in service, was the company’s way of thanking commuters for their support.

The fiesta included a treasure hunt, in which commuters completed the hunt by travelling on Rapid Penang buses and on foot.

“The bus-hunt allowed participants to appreciate the comfort, affordability and reliability of Rapid Penang buses first hand, all while having a good time.”

He said Rapid Penang strove to provide better seating and shorter bus waiting time for commuters.

He said it planned to fit LED screens at bus terminals and selected bus stops to display bus arrivals and movement on a real-time basis.

He urged the local authorities to make bus stops more accessible to wheelchair-bound commuters.

The firm would target more commuters from the higher-income group, he added.

[TRANSIT: We say, enough with the “higher-income” and “lower income” concepts because they encourage the wrong mentality. How about “convenient transport for all” instead?]

He said Rapid Penang had doubled its ridership from 39,000 in 2007 to 65,000 this year and would continue to deploy more buses.

“You may see some 500 buses plying the roads in the next five years.”

He said the company would introduce more routes in rural areas on the mainland.

As for Rapid Penang’s role in the Northern Corridor Economic Region, Azhar said the company would ensure Penang served as a transport and logistic hub for the northern region.

TRANSIT Says:

As always, we begin by congratulating RapidPenang staff and their CEO Azhar Ahmad, and then follow that up by wishing that RapidKL was more like RapidPenang.

TRANSIT likes the idea of partnership between RapidPenang and Firefly to encourage public transport use for passengers of the “Community Airline.”

Perhaps we could encourage RapidKL to allow free bus trips for Firefly passengers on RapidKL’s U81 bus service.

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