‘Best’ news for Penang commuters?

TRANSIT took note of this creatively headlined article in the Star referring to the approval of the “Bridge Express Shuttle Transit” or “BEST” service which will begin operations on 1 March 2011

‘Best’ news for commuters (The Star)
6 January 2011
By PRISCILLA DIELENBERG

GEORGE TOWN: The free Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (Best) service to transport commuters from Seberang Jaya to factories in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone on the island will start on March 1.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the “park and ride” system was approved at the state executive council meeting yesterday.

Under the system, Lim said, the commuters need only pay for the parking of their vehicles in Seberang Jaya while the state would supply the buses to transport them for free.

He said that Best service was open to all, and would focus on the Bayan Lepas FIZ for a start.

“Anyone can ride but the destination is only the factories in Bayan Lepas, not anywhere else,” he told a press conference at his office in Komtar here.

Lim said that with this service, motorists could save up to RM250 a month on the Penang Bridge toll and petrol.

He said the state would hold awareness and publicity programmes for greater participation, adding that details of the system would be fine-tuned and announced by state Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow.

Chow, who was present, said that for a start, 10 buses would be deployed to shuttle commuters from 6am to 9am and from 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday, which is when most factory workers would be commuting.

“We have done a survey among the factories in Bayan Lepas where 1,100 workers have shown interest in joining this programme,” he said.

Chow said a bus shelter was being built at the Sunway Carnival Mall in Seberang Jaya which would be the initial pick-up and drop-off point, while 50 to 60 stops would be put up in front of various factories in Bayan Lepas.

“We will have two or three routes to serve all the factories,” he said, adding that the system should help to reduce the number of vehicles on Penang island and traffic congestion.

Lim said Best was aimed at helping to reduce the financial burden of lower income workers, especially in view of the announcement by the Federal Government to increase the price of RON97 by 10 sen to RM2.40.

“This is our effort to reach out to help Malaysian workers fight the fuel price increase and subsidy reduction, which we feel is unfair as it is only borne by the poorer segments of society and not by the rich companies.

“The state government is concerned as this is the second time within a month that the price of petrol has gone up,” said Lim.

TRANSIT Says:

BEST sounds like one of the most interesting ideas in public transport that we have heard recently.

We are especially pleased to see the state take the initiative to fund public transport services (contracted to RapidPenang) instead of sitting back and saying that public transport was “a federal responsibility.”

As we have said before, we hope to see a stronger, proactive and positive relationship between the Penang State Government and RapidPenang, with the goal of improving all forms of active and public transport in the state.

The next step to take is a pretty simple one – get Azhar Ahmed, CEO of RapidPenang a seat on the Penang Transport Council.

Then, start talking to the Penang Bridge Concessionaire about bus lanes on the bridge.

As always, your thoughts & comments are welcome.

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12 thoughts on “‘Best’ news for Penang commuters?”

  1. I don’t think they have enough bus for this. Busses for present route sure be used for this project. This caused frequency of routes now been reduced and make peoples that pay money to climb bus have to wait longer time. While those peoples that drive own car and never climb bus before can have free ride. This is not fair and seriously can be a joke.

    1. Hi @BF Yong

      We know that RapidPenang is buying 200 more buses of which 60 will be double-deck buses.

      We will find out when those buses are to arrive and whether they will indeed be shifting buses from existing routes to provide for the BEST service.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. Hi transitmy,

    The 200 New buses only arrive at the end of 2011. Latest info from RapidPenang said they will use 10 buses for the BEST. I assume one trip take 1 hour(From origin return to origin), So, if the the process is efficient then frequency of 5-7 minutes is possible. This was proven by the route 101 by RapidPenang. It means they are capable. However, the buses for present route have to be use for Best.

    1. Hi @BF Yong

      On twitter, they said that they will use existing buses but the service is only during peak hours. We asked once again if they plan to use buses from other routes or spare buses.

      We will follow up with an email asking for further details about the BEST trips and which routes will have buses removed and how they plan to make up the slack.

      Regards,

      Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. Rapid Penang has 200 buses. Majority of them are underutilized. The worry about buses for present routes be utilized for this project is totally unfound. The problem for BEST is that the 10 buses will not be enough to cater for the need once the momentum pick up.
    The other problem of BEST is how RapidPenang going to ferry the commuters to their respective destination in the most efficient time. The shuttle buses that ply across the bridge should not be used to send commuters to their respective destination. Feeder buses that target specific route should be used to cater the need.
    Until now, no detail nor information is available on the serices of feeder buses. There is also no detail about the pick up and drop off point. How traffic should be managed at the pick up and drop off point is one of the main concern for successful implementation of BEST if feeder buses are used to ferry commuters to their respective destination.

  4. @ Ong Eu Soon,

    RapidPenang has 350 buses, not 200. If you pass by their depot at Weld Quay, Bagan Luar, Lorong Kulit, Sungai Nibong, you will notice not much buses at there. This was due to most of it were used in 49 routes now. It is not underutillized but overutillized as some of the China made buses already deteriorate.

    Actually, this BEST project was announced 1 months ago. I realize that the number of buses on the road less and frequency reduced even the project was not started. The officers say they used the buses for the BEST preparation. Therefore, the present route have to sacrifice for the BEST project.

  5. I think it’s a good initiative, but really, the fleet is already overextended. The 200 buses due year-end are badly needed now.

    Does anyone know what buses are they buying this time? Scania K230UB and K310UB again?

  6. The number of buses are confirm to be 16 which allocate as below:

    Best A- 5 buses
    Best B- 5 buses
    Best C- 6 buses.

    They claim that the buses used are from backup units. However from the newspaper images , those fleets are actually used to serve routes like 701,702,703 because the number plate and even bus’ advertisement are same. Can Transits check this out??

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