SPAD CEO: Rise in public transport usage on the way

TRANSIT took note of this letter written by Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal, the CEO of SPAD, Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission.

Mohd Nur was kind enough to send an advance copy of his letter to us, and you can find the original here.

Below is the edited letter as published in The Star.

Rise in public transport usage (The Star)
Wednesday February 2, 2011

Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal
CEO Land Public Transport Commission

I REFER to the letter from Moaz Yusuf Ahmad titled “Bus rapid transit the way forward” (The Star, Jan 30).

First of all, I would like to thank Moaz for acknowledging the Government’s efforts in improving public transport under the umbrellas of the Government Transforma-tion Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

These efforts are a reflection of the close collaboration between the Transport; Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing; Housing and Local Government ministries and Government agencies including Pemandu and the Land Public Transport Commission (LPTC).

Through the GTP and the Urban Public Transport (UPT) NKRA, initial building blocks to improve the urban public transportation are already in place.

These initiatives implemented throughout 2010 have already yielded very evident results.

The initiatives listed by Moaz, such as the new trains for KTM Komuter, new buses for RapidKL and RapidPenang, implementation of Bus Expressway Transit (BET), and Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) are not complete and exhaustive.

There are many other initiatives that were announced under GTP and UPT NKRA that are being carried out by LPTC and other agencies.

Thus, the recent news coverage around the MRT should not be used as the only barometer of what the Government is doing to improve public transport services.

The Prime Minister has set a national priority of delivering a 25% modal share for public transport in the Klang Valley by 2012 during AM (morning) peak periods. To achieve this task, we have identified 11 initiatives across four major categories under UPT NKRA:

On the above, the UPT NKRA has achieved encouraging results. Based on an independent survey done by Urusbudi Transplan Sdn Bhd, the AM peak public transport achieved a modal share of 17%, an increase from 10-12% in 2008 and we are well on track to reach the target of 25% by 2012.

This clearly demonstrates that the initiatives under the UPT NKRA are on the right track to encourage higher usage of public transportation.

Ten thousand more people are taking public transport in the AM peak hours daily, which is an increase of 4% compared to 2009.

I would like to highlight the results of the UPT NKRA in 2010 under the four major categories to-date:

Some of these implementation programmes under the UPT NKRA covered what Moaz had highlighted and we are already seeing evident holistic results impacting the public in a very positive way.

This year will see further initiatives being implemented across these four major categories under the UPT NKRA.

Such short- and medium-term programmes under the UPT NKRA are necessary to alleviate current public transportation woes within the Klang Valley and, in the process, put the necessary building blocks in place for a larger scope, which is the MRT infrastructure.

Initial focus of efforts will be on the Klang Valley, subsequently expanding to Penang and Johor Baru.

The MRT infrastructure is a necessary project solely because the general population within the Klang Valley is expected to increase from six million to nine million between now and 2020.

In relation to what Pemandu, the relevant ministries and government agencies are doing, LPTC is also tasked to bring about positive changes to land public transport in Peninsular Malaysia.

Sabah and Sarawak will be included after a thorough study and proper consultations in the next phase by the end of this year.

To this end, LPTC is also developing our own 20-year National Public Transport Policy and Masterplan. The first two components due in September this year will be:

  • The National Public Transport Policy Framework document, and
  • The Greater KL/Klang Valley Public Transport Masterplan.

The Greater KL/Klang Valley Public Transport Masterplan will consist of the following key subsidiary plans:

  • Urban Rail Development Plan
  • Bus Transformation Plan
  • Taxi Transformation Plan, and
  • Transport Infrastructure Plan

The Bus Transformation Plan will be the key to immediate improvements in our public transport services in Klang Valley.

Within the framework of this Transformation plan, we would be looking at developing specific and detailed programmes to integrate the Klang Valley bus services, which has about 13 operators running more than 1,400 buses, with RapidKL operating only half of the total number of buses.

We will also be examining a combination of factors such as the dwindling number of bus users, shortage of drivers, increasing operating cost, competition with Government-owned operators, un-enforced regulations, and unplanned bus network provide for a volatile and unsustainable situation.

These have often been cited as reasons why bus operators do not follow given routes and schedule.

We aim to restructure this operation before strict enforcement can produce sustainable desired outcomes.

Arriving at a long-term total solution will require a complete understanding of the economics on the various scale of operations and will represent a major policy shift.

These are being studied within our Bus Transformation Plan.

A separate study is also being conducted to optimally reconfigure the Klang Valley’s bus network (main corridors, feeder network, and local services) with specific provisions for enhancing bus lanes, terminal and interchange locations and operating requirements for a BRT system.

Mohd Nur Kamal
Chief Executive Officer
Land Public Transport Commission (LPTC)


TRANSIT Says:

It’s always nice when public officials actually respond showing that they have an idea of the significant problems that the public transport industry in Malaysia is facing.

In this case, Mohd Nur has provided a framework for what SPAD intends to do to reform the various areas of the public transport industry. Of course there is a lack of detail on how these reforms are to take place and when they are to start, but at least we know that the organization is paying attention to the matters.

Our biggest concern is that, like the Pemandu labs, the plans for reform will be drawn-up and evaluated in-house, without public scrutiny or even stakeholder scrutiny, and we will end up with massive resistance and frustration from the exercise (like the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) rather than results. The media will have a field day and the public will lose all faith in SPAD.

This article in The Star, LPTC moving on the right track (18 Feb 2011) also highlighted the comments in Mohd Nur’s letter and used it to express the idea that SPAD is moving forward according to plan. Of course, once again the details of the plan are not shared, but we are told that problems are in the process of being resolved.

The image below shows us how problems were resolved in the past.

Passengers cross in front of a taxi in order to board a RapidKL bus that is waiting at the side of the LDP opposite Kelana Jaya LRT station. Image courtesy of The Star.

In the past, cars and taxis would park opposite the Kelana Jaya in the most haphazard manner, which would make it impossible for other cars to move and buses to pick up passengers. The backup caused by these waiting cars would slow traffic on the LDP as far back as the previous junction.

By constructing this kerb, taxis now have their own separate lane, and buses and waiting cars can come in easily.

Unfortunately, no one bothered to add a sign to encourage the taxi queue to move further down into the layby lanes, so the taxi queue still backs up onto the LDP, slowing traffic down as far back as the previous junction.

The loading/unloading bay opposite Kelana Jaya LRT station showing the new kerb separating the bay into 2 lanes

This is the problem with piecemeal solutions – and this is the problem we have with SPAD and Pemandu, for introducing MRT as absolutely necessary as part of the solution to our transport woes, before we have the master plan, and without being aware of or able to resolve small issues like the haphazard parking (and congestion it causes) opposite Kelana Jaya LRT station.

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