Not another ‘terminal’ fail(ure)

TRANSIT took note of three interesting articles in the past week that have detailed more of the disappointing failures of bus terminals in Malaysia.

We also note that the phrase “epic fail” has become commonly used by people throughout the world (well, at least the online, social-networking world) to described major failures that occur.

Instead of “epic fail” TRANSIT introduces to you the “terminal fail” – terminal in this case referring to the bus terminal as well as the “terminal” state of our bus terminals (and to some extent, our public transport industry).

When a public transport terminal becomes a hypermarket (and the news is reported in the “community announcements” section of a major media outlet, that is a “terminal fail”. When a poorly-located terminal operating since December 2008 still cannot attract customers (after shutting down one major section), that is a “terminal fail”. And when an old, classic and well-located bus terminal cannot find new customers and is in danger of closing down because its future has not been planned for, that too is a “terminal fail.”

So let’s take a look at what is going on, shall we?

Terminal Fail #1 – Terminal 2 Seremban

New ‘route’ Terminal 2 being converted into a hypermarket (The Star)
Thursday May 26, 2011
Story and photos by CHARLES FERNANDEZ
charlesf@thestar.com.my

THE RM50mil Terminal 2 transport hub near Era Walk in Seremban is taking a new “route”.

The transport hub in the Era Baru Complex is being converted into a Mydin Hypermarket, one of the four outlets by Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd to open this year.

The Seremban outlet will start operations in August.

When the transport hub was first opened four years ago, the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) issued a directive that all express bus operators relocate to the new air-conditioned hub to avoid congestion at Terminal 1.

The state government had spent millions to build a covered walkway and a tunnel to connect Terminal 1 to the railway station, which is very convenient for commuters.

However, the bus operators wanted to remain at Terminal 1 where business was much better.

It was learnt that the state government had compromised on the issue by requiring only bus operators to the east coast states and the south to relocate to the new terminal, but this only lasted until October last year.

[TRANSIT: The pattern of the state government interfering in public transport planning is unfortunate and not just limited to Seremban. Another reason why a “Who Does What” panel is needed to help everyone understand “who does what” when it comes to public transport.]

Only Konsortium Transnasional, Nice, Plusliner and Cityliner moved to Terminal 2, which was built in 2007.

The state government had hoped it could become a hub for all express bus operators but it fell short of expectations.

The way to go: The signs near Terminal 2. Image courtesy of The Star. Note the illegally parked vehicles

When the bus operators moved out from Terminal 2, some of the traders also moved out, citing poor business.

However, there is now hope for the traders who have opted to stay back.

Their businesses could pick up when Mydin starts operation.

For most who used the new hub, it reminds them of the “notorious” old Puduraya bus terminal, as it is a closed up area as opposed to Terminal 1 which is an open building.

“It is really hot in there because of the buses’ engines running. The building is meant to be a shopping centre and we are glad to know that a hypermarket is moving in,’’ said one senior citizen.

Come August, Seremban folks will have another place to purchase groceries. The multi-million shopping complex also houses a Marrybrown outlet and the MBO Cineplex which has six screens and is the only family-orientated entertainment hub.

IF you have a business-related event such as product launches, new appointments and store openings to highlight, e-mail us at metro@thestar.com.my

TRANSIT Says:

This, unfortunately, is how we find public transport-related news disseminated in Malaysia. Either we have to check the business section or the Metro sections of the various newspapers – looking for obscure information about what is happening with bus stops, bus terminals etc.

As we have said before, there has to be a clear understanding of who is responsible for the various aspects of public transport infrastructure and services. SPAD needs to step up and get the message out to the various stakeholders so that everyone knows what their responsibilities are.

TRANSIT has always believed that local governments should take the lead on implementing public transport services and building public transport infrastructure – but there is a clear need for direction, support and information from SPAD, the national public transport regulator.

Terminal Fail #2 – Klang Sentral

For the article on Klang Sentral, please refer to our previous post, here.

When Klang Sentral was announced, TRANSIT was worried. We did not like the idea of closing the North Klang bus terminal, which was very effective at providing a local, urban spot for public transport users to find connecting services to KL as well as local services.

Yes, North Klang bus terminal was congested – namely because bus services are so poorly organized in Malaysia, therefore buses spend more time waiting for passengers (and causing congestion) than they actually spend on the road. This is something that, for some reason, no government agency has been able to change.

But frankly, we don’t think they are trying hard enough!

The stupidity of the current situation is exemplified by the lack of passengers at Klang Sentral combined with the continuing congestion around the North Klang Bus Terminal – because although the terminal has been closed for more than 2 years, bus operators still wait there. Only now, they wait outside the terminal, blocking roads and causing even more congestion than before.

What is worse is that neither SPAD nor the Selangor Government have taken any action on the Klang Sentral and North Klang bus terminal issues – despite TRANSIT’s attempts to make it clear that this should be a priority.

Terminal Fail #3 – Pekeliling bus terminal

It’s almost harsh for us to write this because the Pekeliling bus terminal is still operating – but it is headed for a “terminal fail” unless SPAD and the DBKL and Federal Territories Ministry can get their act together and plan for the future of our older public transport infrastructure.

End of glory days: Decline in passengers at Pekeliling bus hub worry operators (Malay Mail)

Ee Ann Nee
Monday, May 30th, 2011

CAN a once thriving bus terminal in the city keep up with the development of its surroundings?

SLOW COUNT: Passenger count has dropped over the years. image courtesy of Malay Mail.

This does not appear to be the case with the Pekeliling Bus Terminal located off Jalan Tun Razak which has seen a decline in passengers over the years, The Malay Mail found during a visit there.

Temerloh-KL Express bus driver Ng Ah Heong, 61, said nowadays getting 10 passengers per bus was considered lucky.

“However, bus operators here fare better on weekends with about 20 passengers or more per trip, and sometimes even a full load,” said Ng, who has been in this line for 36 years.

Ng said bus operators generally serve different routes to eliminate competition among bus companies. Mobile food trader Mohd Ali Sulaiman, 53, who operates near the bus terminal, said his business was affected by the low passenger count.

“The number of buses is still as many but the number of people boarding the buses have greatly reduced over the years,” he said.

“Nowadays, most people have their own vehicles and those who still take the bus are now frequenting the newer bus hubs.”

Mohd Ali said changes were inevitable and would not rule out moving to the Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) in Gombak for better prospects.

Abu Khadir, 63, a janitor at the Pekeliling Bus Terminal said the number of passengers had reduced compared with previous years.

“With new bus stations opening elsewhere, more and more passengers will be diverted, including to the revamped Puduraya terminal,” he said.

[TRANSIT: Indeed, there is a real question about what will happen with our old public transport infrastructure as it ages and new infrastructure is put in place, supposedly to replace the older infrastructure. The problem is that people who rely on the existing infrastructure are forced to adjust – often without information or support from the government. And since there is no active local planning & organization for public transport, there is no way to get a consistent agreement on what needs to be done with this existing infrastructure.]

Asrul Ariff, a 21-year-old student who takes the bus to Jerantut, Pahang every fortnight from the terminal, said the place needed an upgrade and beggars frequently loitered the area.

The Pekeliling Bus Terminal is managed by City Hall’s Urban Transport Department. According to a Pekeliling Bus Terminal supervisor, more than 10 bus companies were operating there.

“Half of the people who frequent the bus terminal are the working class while others are eastbound travellers,” said the supervisor, adding relocating the eastbound operations to the Gombak ITT would divert traffic from the city centre.

The terminal, besides serving eastbound routes like Kuantan, Jerantut, Genting, Temerloh and Kuala Lipis, also serves multiple local bus services.

It is adjoining to the Titiwangsa interchange that serves the Ampang Line rapid transit system and the KL Monorail.

TRANSIT Says:

The Pekeliling Bus Terminal has not yet become a “terminal fail” but the signs are clear that it is on the way. As usual, the problem is that there is no clear guidance on “who does what” in public transport – and no consultation about what should be done with existing public transport infrastructure, as and after new infrastructure is being built.

Like the Putra bus terminal, the Pekeliling bus terminal is managed by the DBKL’s Urban Transport Department. This is actually a good thing because this means that these important public transport assets are in the hands of the local government rather than private operators.

The problem is that DBKL only owns the assets and is not involved in providing (or regulating or managing) intercity or local public transport services. This means that there is no way for the DBKL to compel existing intercity or local public transport operators to use the terminal.

As express/intercity bus operators are expected to shift to new terminals built by the Federal Government (such as the Gombak Integrated Transport Terminal), DBKL & SPAD will have to compel the existing stage bus operators (especially those on the Jalan Pahang, Greenwood and Genting Klang corridors) to use the Pekeliling terminal as a bus hub and staging area – rather than heading down to Kota Raya or Chow Kit.

So TRANSIT will say it again – we need to create a Local Public Transport Authority for the Klang Valley, with the Federal Territories Minister as Chair, and comprising representatives from SPAD, DBKL, the bus operators (or their representatives), and finally, public transport users.

We know that SPAD is not ready to compel bus operators to change their services (or change their ways, for that matter) just yet. But we have a small window of opportunity to make this necessary improvement to the way public transport is organized and managed in the Klang Valley – and this window is closing.

The alternative to a stage bus terminal and public transport hub at the Pekeliling terminal is more development on what is clearly prime land – development that may not be in the interest of public transport.

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3 thoughts on “Not another ‘terminal’ fail(ure)”

  1. I am pening and kepala pusing now. All I can say is another Malaysia Boleh achievement and when things fell under CVLB, it is sure to become worse. Malaysia Boleh!!! Kronisma dan rasuah jauh lebih BOLEH!!!

  2. Thank you for report on the Pekeliling bus hub ‘End of glory days’ (MMail 30/5/2011 page 3).

    Correction: final paragraph ‘northbound route like Kuantan, Jerantut,
    Genting, Temerloh etc’ are actually eastbound destinations.

    Generally the fall in the rider ship is not the number of passengers
    but because of the many companies being licensed to operate these
    destinations.

    KL – Temerloh Express was the first to serve Temerloh express service.
    Utama Express (current not plying this stop), Transnational, Bulan
    Restu and Metro-bus are serving Temerloh.

    Not all services are originating their service from Pekeliling, as
    such all passengers need not only take their bus at Pekeliling. Also
    due to LRT covering Pekeliling, people do need not wait long at the
    terminal to catch their bus, affecting the hawker business.

    However, better and comfortable facilities must be provided by the
    authorities to promote higher public transport adoption. Also the
    enforcement over private car crowding within the Pekeliling Terminal
    also lower the experience of the public using this terminal.

    Thank you.

    Regards
    Mohd Saiful b. Abdullah
    Executive Secretary
    Pahang Association of Consumers (PAC)
    013-7642627

  3. Talking about terminal failure this reminds me of one thing. Will the new Klang Valley MRT system ended up like the funicular train in Penang Hill?? Hopefully not, although I’m quite pessimistic about it. Let’s cross our finger and hopefully the “first world facilities, third world maintenance” syndrome will ends here for good!!

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