TRANSIT took note of the updates on the progress of the Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (BEST) service introduced in Penang on 1 March 2011.
B.E.S.T. is an effort from the Penang Government to reduce the number of private vehicles crossing the Penang Bridge by providing an alternative free public transport shuttle bus service to the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone.
The Best shuttle (Star Metro North)
Wednesday March 2, 2011
WITH the Best shuttle system, 16 Rapid Penang buses will take commuters from Seberang Jaya to factories in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone (FIZ) from Monday to Friday.Commuters will need to pay RM1 to park their cars in Sunway Carnival Mall’s car park and board the buses at the bus stop outside Billion Shopping Centre in Seberang Jaya between 5.30am and 8.10am.
[TRANSIT: See, private carparks can take advantage of public transport commuters. We have to wonder how many of those passengers will stop at the Sunway Carnival Mall and Billion Shopping Centre for a little tea-time snack and shopping?]
The buses will make return trips starting from the bus stop outside Kompleks Bukit Jambul in Bayan Baru through the FIZ area between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government is spending RM160,000 a month for the shuttle system, noting that Rapid Penang had given a RM16,000 monthly discount from its original quotation of RM176,000 per month.
“Apart from saving RM250 in travelling costs and reducing cars travelling on the Penang Bridge, commuters can have stress-free rides on these buses, which have free Wifi service,” he said.
For details on the Best system, visit the Penang Transport Council website at http://ptc.penang.gov.my/.
TRANSIT has been following the proposal for the Bridge Express Shuttle Transit since it was mooted.
And while it appears that the response has been slow, as detailed in these articles:
And as you can see from the picture below, there were only a few customers using the BEST shuttle bus in the first morning on the first day.
Is this bad news? TRANSIT hardly thinks so. We know that it takes time for the public to respond to a new bus service. Generally, it takes 3 years for a new bus service to reach its “regular” levels of customer demand – and that is with healthy promotion.
And so far the feedback about the B.E.S.T. service looks to be very positive with many workers pleased about saving money and getting better service. Being able to spend time talking with colleagues is also a plus (as, inevitably many of these conversations will be work-related).
So we at TRANSIT urge the government, the public and the media to have some faith that the demand for the service will increase over the next few weeks and months, until there are calls for expansion of service and extension to other places.
By the way, someone needs to gently remind the Penang Transport Council & RapidPenang that satellite images are not acceptable in the long-term and that proper, geographically-accurate route maps should be drawn up as quickly as possible.