Malaysia needs national policy to improve transportation system – so what else is new?

TRANSIT took note of the following article detailing a press conference by FOMCA (Federation of Malaysian Consumers’ Associations) and PMBOA (Pan-Malaysia Bus Operaters’ Association) in which they state that Malaysia needs a national policy to improve the transportation system.

TRANSIT: So what else is new!?!?! (also, why didn’t we get the invite…?)

Malaysia needs national policy to improve transportation system (The Star)
Saturday October 9, 2010

THE country is in urgent need of a national transport policy to improve the transportation system, Fomca and the Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association said.

Both bodies said more needed to be done and planning must also involve the direct stakeholders.

“Promise after promise and KPIs after KPIs have been pledged by the government to improve public transport but for the man-on-the-street, the situation has not improved,” said Fomca president Datuk N. Marimuthu , who called for [a] blueprint to be formulated.

Association president Datuk Dr Mohd Ashfar Ali said presently, government planning for public transport systems were implemented on an ad-hoc basis and subject to changes.

“When something gets implemented, we operators are usually only consulted at the end stages of the project and when we give our practical input, it may be a little too late,” Dr Ashfar said.

Both were speaking at a press conference [where] they called for a national transport policy to be expedited.

Marimuthu said the government should not be the operator of public transport but play the role of facilitating the enhancement of public transport in the country.

“The performance of the government-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, which runs Rapid KL has not been encouraging,” he said.

TRANSIT: On the other hand, the performance of Rapid Penang, which is owned by Prasarana but run independently, has been encouraging. Maybe the problem is not government ownership but actually, government meddling and micro-managing?

“Local governments in Seremban, Terengganu and Malacca have tried to operate bus services but their efforts have proven disastrous. This clearly shows the lack of experience and professionalism by the government in becoming an operator themselves,” he added.

TRANSIT Says:

It is sad enough that Malaysia has been through crash after crash and announcement after announcement heralding change and improvement in the public transport industry – only to see more of the same, crony-centred, regulation-flouting operations that put the public transport user last.

Frankly, there is nothing wrong with having the government operate public transport services. In fact, there is nothing wrong with a government-owned or government-linked operator competing with a private company.

What matters is that there is always an independent, trustworthy, competent, accountable and transparent regulator that controls the bus routes, which are then contracted out to the various companies.

In order to have that kind of system there needs to be major policy changes as well as action in the public transport industry.

Unfortunately, no one is ready to take that action and make public transport work – and in order to distract the public from the fact that we are stuck with a decrepit, dysfunctional system, the MRT/LRT and monorail announcements are constantly trotted out at the right (election?) time, in a quest for public approval of what really amounts to nothing!

Oh, and as much as we have respect for Datuk Ashfar of the PMBOA, that Association needs to take action and weed out the most dangerous of the operators, blacklist the most dangerous drivers, and work to raise the standards of the bus industry. How about embracing the SHE code and working to improve the standards of PMBOA members (PMBOA should be a mark of quality service!) rather than blaming the government again and again!

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