The “best” we’ve seen so far?

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

Ride and surf: Dynacraft employees (from right)Lim Bee Gaik, 35, and Jason Cheng, 23, using free Wifi during their Best ride to Bayan Lepas from Bandar Sunway. Image courtesy of The Star.


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 Says:

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.

A RapidPenang B.E.S.T. shuttle bus carries only a few passengers on the first day of operations. Image courtesy of The Star.

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.

For more information on the BEST service including satellite images showing the routes (BEST – A, BEST – B & BEST – C), please see the Penang Transport Council website.

Google Earth image showing the route for the BEST - C shuttle bus. Image courtesy of Penang Transport Council.

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.

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7 thoughts on “The “best” we’ve seen so far?”

  1. Is the first picture taken in the same bus as the second picture but at a later time? Why was there seemingly many more passengers in the first that people had to stand?

    1. @Ethan

      You made a good observation. It’s likely that the 2nd picture was taken before the bus was filled with workers (and before it started moving).

      We took the pictures from different pages of The Star.

      There was also a line in one of the articles that had CM Lim Guan Eng suggesting that the service was not properly publicized, which actually seems quite unlikely (since he has been talking & tweeting about it himself quite a bit).

      We feel that the service is in its early days and there is no controversy, hence, little attention from the public.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. @ethan

    I can tell you something that is categorized as “FREE/PERCUMA” in Malaysia bound to be packed and suffocated like this bus service. Believe me! For example, like the buffet at any open house, the food will be gone in just a minute, literally. Then you have to push, fight and curse like hell to get the food that you want to eat. Luckily with my height of 6 feet 2 and a body build like the Royal Rumble wrestler, I’m always the winner at the open house buffet. Hee hee. 😛

    1. Hi Jeffrey

      It appears that the bus was not packed yet, despite being categorized as free. The service is in its early days and without controversy – hence there is very little attention from the media and public.

      Our biggest issue is with the selection of RapidPenang as the operator. We have to ask the Penang Government if a Request for Proposals or Request for Expression of Interest was sent out to other operators, if there was a response from these operators, and if so, how was the contract for the service tendered out?

      We will be sending a letter requesting these details to the Penang Government (or we might just tweet to CM Lim Guan Eng to let him know in advance.)

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

    1. hahah when I first read your comment, I thought you said “parked soon” and I got worried – because that happened with the Seremban town shuttle bus.

      But if the bus is packed, so much the better. And if they extend it to the Sg. Nibong bus terminal, so much the better.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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