- Update: Sabak Barnam loses its bus link to Kuala Selangor!
- Update: Commuters and Consumer NGOs comment on the possible shutdown of bus services!
TRANSIT took note of this interesting series of articles detailing how bus services in Peninsular Malaysia have declined (especially in rural and suburban areas) due to the rising cost of fuel, parts and labour, combined with reduced demand.
- Commuters fear being stranded (15 May 2011)
- Companies put the brakes on services in many areas as costs spiral (14 May 2011)
- Rides come to an end (14 May 2011)
- Almost 500 buses stop servicing Johor in three months (14 May 2011)
- Perak bus operators appeal for subsidy (14 May 2011)
The Pan-Malaysian Bus Operators’ Association has made it clear that there were problems in the public transport industry and had demanded that the government allow them to have more authority & independence or else take over the entire industry.
But since there has been a lack of response from SPAD to their memorandum, issued in February 2011, the PMBOA members will likely go ahead and cut service on various bus routes such as the ones below:
And with other increases to come in the cost of materials and insurance, PMBOA Chairman Ashfar Ali reiterated that bus operators have no hope left unless the Government agrees to take over their operations lock, stock and barrel. The President of the Johor Bus Drivers’ Association expressed a similar wish for a government takeover.
It is truly disappointing to read of the concerns of these operators – but we are more concerned over the people who depend on the services that these operators provide.
Unfortunately, the restructuring of public transport has not moved forward in the manner that we at TRANSIT had hoped. Neither has it followed the appropriate pace.
Years ago TRANSIT stated that the best way to resolve issues in the public transport industry was to move from the heavily regulated, poorly organized and bureaucratic permit-based system that favoured individual operators, to a more efficient operator-based system that encouraged operators to find efficiency within their industries.
The thousands of individual bus operators would get involved in horizontal symmetry, forming joint ventures & mergers & associations to offer service in a cooperative rather than competitive manner.
At the same time, the demand for services would be managed & organized by Local & Regional Public Transport Authorities – these authorities would be quasi-government, with participation from all 4-stakeholder groups. The Authorities would hire the bus operators to provide service on net-cost contracts.
Funding for these services would come from the Land Public Transport Commission, which would play the role of national regulator, organizer and planner of the public transport system on a “macro” scale.
At this time we know that SPAD is re-registering the existing bus operators as part of the process of moving from a individual-based permits system to an operator-based permits system. The next step, once bus operators are re-registered, would be to find ways & incentives to encourage these joint ventures, mergers, etc.
Unfortunately, there is no indication from and of our sources that there is any plan to develop Local and/or Regional Public Transport Authorities to help manage & organize public transport services. While the Penang Transport Council does exist, it has no actual organizational authority. The Selangor Government’s proposed Klang Valley Transport Council (announced in the 2009 budget) was rejected by the Federal Government, and there has been no indication of interest from the Government of Selangor towards going it alone and setting up their own Selangor Transport Council.
Today, 14 May is the last day of the first public display for the Sg. Buloh – Kajang Line of the Klang Valley MRT project – a project now projected to cost RM50 billion if not more. Since the project was announced (roughly this time last year) it appears that the focus of public transport in Malaysia has been on the MRT project (and to a lesser extent the LRT extensions).
TRANSIT has always been concerned that with all this attention focused on the MRT (and LRT), the importance of a healthy basic bus system would end up being ignored.
Services are already being cut as a result of the government not paying attention to the issues plaguing the public transport industry. It is time for the government to open their eyes and tackle the elephant in the room.