Touts ‘menacing’ passengers at Bukit Jalil terminal

Yesterday, TRANSIT posted a series of tweets from Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, in which he described his experience using the Bukit Jalil temporary terminal.

Today, TRANSIT noted this investigation from the Malay Mail of touting activities at the Bukit Jalil terminal.

As TRANSIT has said before, criminals and others operate in a vacuum – they take advantage of people who lack information, they take advantage of people who do not have time, and they take advantage of people when enforcement is unclear, sporadic, weak or inconsistent.

Touts menace at Bukit Jalil bus terminal

Touts change strategy to ‘lure’ passengers
NURUL HUDA JAMALUDDIN & ALFIAN TAHIR

Monday, June 21st, 2010

ToutsBOGUS: Touts selling tickets to passengers — Pics: Arif Kartono

KUALA LUMPUR: Touts at the Bukit Jalil bus terminal here are resorting to guerilla tactics in the wake of a crackdown against 27 touts last Saturday.

Yesterday, with the Road Transport Department (RTD) officers and police still monitoring the situation, the touts who eluded the dragnet were still operating on the sly, as The Malay Mail discovered.

The modus operandi is to approach a potential passenger who would be requested to follow the tout into a bus before making a transaction.

Kindergarten assistant Aishah Rahim, 19, from Rawang, Selangor, said she bought a bus ticket from a tout at the Bukit Jalil terminal on June 18 to return to her hometown in Kulai, Johor.

“Last Friday, I had urgent family matters to attend to, so when a tout offered me a ‘fast-track’ ticket to my destination, I agreed to pay RM35 for a ticket, when the normal over-the-counter price is RM31,” she said upon coming back here yesterday.

“The tout asked me to follow him into the bus which was going to Kulai and that’s when I paid him and collected the ticket. I know it’s wrong to buy my ticket that way but it’s hard to get tickets during school holidays and so I did not mind paying RM4 more.”

Bukit Jalil Bus Terminal

Aishah, who travels back to Kulai every month, said there have been times when a tout would even charge double, especially during Hari Raya.

“Not only do desperate passengers have to pay so much more, sometimes the seats are the ‘worst’ ones, such as the front seats nearest to the bus doors,” she said.

University tutor Sharence Wai Sowat, 28, who resides in Taman Equine in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, travels
regularly to his hometown in Taiping, Perak, but said he ignores the touts altogether.

“I often purchase my ticket online and then collect the ticket stubs at the counter,” he said.

“The touts are brave because they operate in groups, so the police and other authorities should increase their presence.”

College student Subashini Munusamy, 23, who stays in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, travels home to Sungai Petani, Kedah almost every weekend.

“The minimal presence of police has definitely emboldened the touts,” she said.

Najiha Husna Othman, 25, who was in a rush to return to Shah Alam, had this to say: “These touts are just too much as they intimidate desperate people into buying tickets at higher prices. They can be scary.”

‘They can run but can’t hide’

LAST Friday, five Road Transport Department (RTD) officers were attacked by about 20 touts. The five officers were conducting checks at the Bukit Jalil terminal and had arrested a tout, but this led to them being attacked by the other touts.

The RTD officers were outnumbered and had to flee. They then lodged a report at Sungai Besi police station.

Acting on this, the RTD and police raided the terminal the next day and arrested 27 touts, many of whom were believed to have been involved in the incident the previous day.

However, in follow-up checks yesterday, the authorities found none of the touts at the complex. The authorities believe the touts are lying low due to the crackdown.

RTD enforcement officer Abdul Rahman Daud, said their operation on Saturday started at noon and ended at midnight.

“When we arrived we saw touts bugging passengers and we arrested 27 of them, including those suspected of beating our officers on Friday,” he said, adding they received many complaints from the public against the touts.

Abdul Rahman said his enforcement team will be deployed regularly to the bus terminal to monitor the situation.

“With the help of the police, we believe we can curb the touts problem,” he said, adding that yesterday’s (Sunday) operation involved 43 RTD officers and 30 police personnel.

RTD: Beware of ‘ghost bus’ menace

BUS passengers who often resort to buying tickets from touts should beware of something worse than higher ticket prices — ‘ghost buses’.

“Travellers should buy tickets at the counter to avoid falling prey to unscrupulous touts and conmen,” advised Road Transport Department (RTD) enforcement director Salim Parlan.

“There are syndicates which forge bus tickets and even show their clients where the buses are parked, but end up waiting for a ‘ghost bus’.”

Salim said they were aware of the various tactics by the touts, including making transactions with passengers who follow them into the bus concerned.

“Another scam by the touts is to sell seats which are already legitimately booked by other passengers who pay at the counter. These touts would then disappear, leaving their victims stranded,” he said.

“When you buy at the counter and if any problem arises, at least you know where to complain.”

Salim said RTD also had an agreement with the bus companies to only have two ticket counter staff per shift, to avoid bogus staff selling tickets to travellers who do not want to wait in line for their turn.

“There is no excuse for bus companies or travellers to abuse this ruling. Tickets should only be bought and sold at the counter,” he said.

He said RTD have three roles at bus terminals: technical safety, which is the road-worthiness of the buses; operations to nab touts; and a complaint’s counter, such as at the Bukit Jalil bus terminal.

The monitoring of bus fares is handled by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).

TRANSIT Says:

There you have it.

TRANSIT reminds all public transport users to help eliminate the touting menace by refusing to buy tickets from touts at any time. Only purchase tickets from a legitimate counter or online service.

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2 thoughts on “Touts ‘menacing’ passengers at Bukit Jalil terminal”

  1. I’m not really sure who these touts are, But I have encountered bus company ‘agents’ who harass passengers by following them around and asking them where they’re headed. I’m not sure if these are the touts mentioned in the article. What I do know is that it is frustrating and upsetting to have to put up with their rude and aggressive behaviour, especially when you’re in a rush. They can be extremely persistent too, and when they finally give up, you can hear them muttering profanities. Is this what we want foreign tourists in malaysia to go through?

    1. Jon

      Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, buses in Malaysia are run in a ‘competitive’ manner and cater to the ‘lower-income group’ so things like this are considered acceptable.

      We are unfortunately limited to telling people to plan your journey in advance (use a site like journeymalaysia.com) and give a firm “no, thanks” (or “no, terima kasih”) and move on.

      Sadly, inaction by the government emboldens these people, who will then do all sorts of crazy things to preserve their “market share” … like beating up JPJ agents.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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