TRANSIT comments on the “low-tech” issues at the new “high-tech” bus terminal (Update #3)

Below are the comments from TRANSIT on the recent issues at the new Terminal Bersepadu Selatan. As always, your comments and feedback are appreciated.

Dear Editor

RE: “Low Tech” issues with new “High Tech” integrated terminal

Malaysians often comment that public transport in Malaysia is a joke. Prime Minister Najib has tasked Idris Jala, Syed Hamid Albar, and the people at Pemandu and SPAD to ensure that real, serious improvements are made to the way the government delivers on its commitments, including public transport.

Unfortunately, it seems that some people in various branches of the government have still not gotten the message.

The issues surrounding the Integrated Transport Terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan (officially called Terminal Bersepadu Selatan Bandar Tasik Selatan or TBS-BTS) have helped finish off 2010 and begin 2011 with collective embarrassment for the government on the public transport file – clearly the last thing that Prime Minister Najib needs to be dealing with.

To summarize the issue: The building is ready, and the DBKL had approved the start of bus operations on 1 January 2011. Terminal Management company TMAS had already opened the terminal to the public in December and invited 190 bus operators (of which 10 had already agreed).

However, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry has issued a directive that the terminal should start operations on 2 February 2011 – the same day that Puduraya (which is currently being refurbished) was expected to open. That project, which should have been completed by the end of 2010, was already delayed and the 1 month extension would have helped ensure that both terminals would be ready, together.

To make the story even stranger, the CVLB has directed bus operators to shift to the new terminal by 1 January 2011. This directive came in the form of a memo sent by fax on 30 December 2010!

In response, the bus operators have claimed that the directive gives them too short a notice. They also happily mentioned the additional costs of the terminal & operations (which they apparently have to bear) and threatened to impose a surcharge on fares.

Update: CVLB Director Halimah Sadique has now given bus operators until 15 January to move in!Worst of all, Ashfar Ali of the Pan Malaysian Bus Operators’ Association has delivered the toughest hit of all, claiming that the high-tech centralized ticket system will cost passengers more and will not stop touting, as TMAS has claimed!

TRANSIT: In case you are wondering – touting exists because of weaknesses in the system – namely in communication & delivery of information. Since passengers cannot plan in advance, they must show up at the terminal which puts them at the mercy of the touts who offer information & services.

And if this was not strange enough, members of UMNO and PKR were present together at a demonstration complaining that the poor residents of the area have not been given access to the retail lots in the terminal and the leasing costs are too high!

Update: The Federal Territories & Urban Wellbeing Minister will now take up the cause of the low-income residents and hawkers with respect to the new terminal. We’ll see how long this lasts!

It should have been so simple – the Integrated Transport Terminal had been built, now the bus operations just had to start in a timely and effective fashion. What happened instead continues to prove that the Malaysian government can build great infrastructure but cannot manage and deliver a project properly.

It appears that all the stakeholders cannot even clearly answer the all-important question of “who is in charge?”. And instead of resolving their issues through communication & discussion, they take everything to the media, generating confusion & embarrassment once again. Sadly, the Malaysian media does not help much. It appears that they simply reported the information from the TMAS briefing verbatim, and did not even bother to ask simple questions like “does this high-tech bus terminal have a website and phone number?” or “How can the public can get information about bus services in advance, so they do not come to the terminal without information and fall prey to touts like at Puduraya?”

The rakyat cannot be faulted for thinking to themselves, “If our government agencies cannot manage the delivery of one bus terminal properly, one can only wonder what will happen with the RM36 billion (to start) MRT network!”

Malaysians should disappointed. The ‘jokers’ at the various government agencies should be ashamed. Idris Jala should be worried, and Prime Minister Najib should be furious.

And Halimah Sadique, the Chair of the CVLB, should resign instead of trying to be a hero. She publicly criticized her own CVLB Director, Naimah Ramli, because buses were still at Bukit Jalil and had not moved to the new terminal yet, saying “I had expected all of them (bus operators) to move in by today (Jan 1). Do you know the rakyat is miserable at Bukit Jalil?”

[TRANSIT: Honestly, Halimah, did you just discover this misery in your recent visit? Where have you been for the past 8 months?]

Halimah should know that the rakyat who use public transport have been miserable since 1987, when the CVLB was created. And to be very frank, in her 1.5 years as Chair of the CVLB, Halimah has accomplished little to reduce that misery. Despite multiple fare increases, bus service has not improved in terms of quality or safety.

By publicly criticizing her own director, Halimah has made it clear that she is not in control of the CVLB, and should therefore step down and let someone else take charge. More importantly, the CVLB should be disbanded and replaced by SPAD immediately.

TRANSIT: It is clear that something is rotten in the CVLB.

Sincerely

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
on behalf of TRANSIT

TRANSIT Says:

What a way to end a decade and begin a new one! We hope that the message gets across to the public and to the government that project management and delivery in Malaysia is in dire need of improvement.

Without significant improvements quickly, we can continue to expect poor examples like the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan.

Leakages and corruption and inefficiency are costing Malaysia and reducing the quality of life for the rakyat!

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6 thoughts on “TRANSIT comments on the “low-tech” issues at the new “high-tech” bus terminal (Update #3)”

  1. hopefully everything will go fine, CVLB is not working anymore, except approving license…
    we can see how many taxi driver openly haggling passenger at pasar seni , at petaling street . This happen not during night but by day time also.

  2. Komen yang diberi agak bernas dan pedas. Saya masih terkejut sebenarnya CLVB masih lagi berkuasa terhadap pengangkutan awam di negara ini yang sepatutnya diambil alih oleh SPAD. Memo yang berlainan tentang tarikh pembukaan TBS hanya menunjukkan kelemahan pentadbiran sistem pengangkutan awam negara yang masih lagi ditadbir oleh sekurang- kurangnya 12 agensi yang berlainan. Terlalu banyak kepala, tangan dan mulut.

  3. What was written and mentioned by MOAZ could not have been more precise and to the core which I have to agree absolutely, and trust me when I say that thousands of bus commuters will have the same feelings and probably nastier comments for the CVLB and the ministry that is causing all of the confusion albeit the contractor completed the project ahead of schedule considering the magnitude wheras PUDURAYA which is being refurbished is delayed citing “weather conditions”. Hmmmmmmmm I wonder what is the distance and weather variables between Pudu and Bandar Tasik Sleatan???
    Apology for going off tangent but what I am most saddened is that the public delivery system of this country is still inefficient and with the various ministry having a hand in a mega project apparently “BIG WIN” for the RAKYAT only ends up likened to a game of YOYO.
    Why are there so many bus operators in the first place? Why so many bus accident fatalities? Why are there opportunities for TOUTS?
    Why do bus commuters have to out up with such nonsense purely for the benefit of the profit seeking diesel subsidised bus operators??? For what?
    A simple conclusion is that the ministry involved or enforcement agencies are all either powerless or could not be bothered to fight for the RAKYAT as elected representatives for the GREATER GOOD of all commuters but instead being ransomed by the bus operator companies apparently some with strong political connections, which is not a hidden secret.
    I personally urge the public to viist this beautifully constructed terninal for the RAKYAT and apply the necessary pressure to all bus operators whom are against operating at the terminal for reasons I will leave to your imagination.
    Just take a look at the make shift terminal at Bukit Jalil and ask why the bus operators do not want to move?
    How can they say they are not given enough time when all of them know about the project and the completion date of the terninal?
    How can they say the terminal charges are expensive when they are losing money to agents and touts?
    Could it be that some of the bus operators are harbouring and encouraging touting as a means to increase profitability? A generally discussed possibility! And a logical reason why many bus operators do not agree to a Centralized Ticketing System as proposed by TMAS.
    I could go on and on but if you are an individual with a reasonable mind and at the same time not alien to the grouses of the local transport landscape affecting commuters then you will also come to the many conclusions which I have briefly touched on.

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