No (CityLiner) bus for you Kedah & Pahang!

TRANSIT took note of this disturbing news, the shut down of bus services by CityLiner in Kedah and Pahang.

The company operating bus services under the CityLiner brand (a brand owned by Konsortium Transnasional Berhad) in various states throughout Peninsular Malaysia

Earlier last month, CityLiner services in Negri Sembilan were shut down for a 1 week period because of similar ‘continuous losses.’ The services resumed on 21 November after SPAD and the Negri Sembilan state government intervened. There was also a threat to shut down services in Sebarang Prai on 21 November but this shutdown was put on temporary hold until the end of November.

TRANSIT is looking for more information on what is happening up in Penang – as well as Kedah & Pahang – but the fact is that there isn’t much that can be done. If SPAD is not able to step in fast enough to prevent services from being shut down (even temporarily) then we are going to continue to face serious problems within the public transport industry in the foreseeable future.

Cityliner halts services in Kedah and Pahang due to ‘continuous losses’ (The Star)
Friday December 2, 2011
By ISABELLE LAI and ROSLINA MOHAMAD

KUALA LUMPUR: Stage bus services in major parts of Kedah and Pahang will temporarily cease from today because their operations are no longer sustainable due to continuous losses, Konsortium Transnasional Bhd (KTB) announced.

Its executive director and chief executive officer Tengku Hasmadi Tengku Hashim said these were routes plied by KTB’s stage bus operator Cityliner, which has suffered RM30mil in losses so far this year.

“The operator (Cityliner) has run out of cash to sustain existing stage bus operations due to years of continuous losses,” he said here yesterday.

He said the discontinuation of services followed a notice given to both the state governments and Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) early last month.

He said the notice addressed to the respective mentris besar in­­formed them that the current situation was not sustainable.

“The industry is regulated and we cannot increase bus fares for a fairer price.

[TRANSIT: Actually, the industry is relatively de-regulated, but the government holds control over permits and fares.]

“The fares meant for low-income passengers cannot cover our operational expenses,” he said, pointing out that maintenance expenses had also increased.

[TRANSIT: We have always said that better solutions – like public transport vouchers – need to be found rather than attempting to keep fares unreasonably low for political gain.]

Tengku Hasmadi said there had been no response from the Pahang and Kedah governments and that the states could not provide any guarantee of assistance despite their request for Cityliner to continue ope­rating for the next three months.

He said the operator could not cover its operational expenses without direct financial assistance from the state governments and SPAD.

SPAD chief operating officer Azhar Ahmad said Cityliner should not just halt its operations abruptly as it would affect the public.

[TRANSIT: But they gave warning – and SPAD did find themselves able to step in Negri Sembilan – so why not resolve the problem before services shut down.]

“We will look at discussing this with them.

[TRANSIT: Not much of a sense of urgency, is there? Never mind, services have shut down in Selangor, Johor & Negri Sembilan without upsetting SPAD – why should they be upset now? Ok, maybe that’s a cheap shot? But why isn’t bus services a priority for SPAD?]

“They should continue to engage with the state authorities and SPAD to find a solution,” he said, adding that the commission was looking at how state governments could step in to provide assistance.

“While we are putting up a long-term solution, we encourage each state to look for the best solution for itself,” he said.

[TRANSIT: Yes, that’s exactly what we need. Let each state – most or all of which do not have any idea or experience about how to regulate or manage a public transport service – figure out their own “best solution”. Who exactly is going to help them learn what to do, implement the service agreements properly, and ensure that services are working? Maybe they should ask the Land Transport Authority in Singapore for consultation.]

In KUANTAN, Pahang state sec­retary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail said it had not been informed about the termination of bus services by KTB in west Pahang.

“However, we’ve heard rumours about it,” he said.

[TRANSIT: Clearly someone hasn’t been reading their mail?]

On the state government’s consideration to offer a cross-subsidy package to help ailing bus companies, Muhammad Safian said the plan was still being drafted.

TRANSIT Says:

How much worse can it get?

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