No bus for you reaches Selangor … again! (Update #4)

TRANSIT took note of more bad news in the public transport industry – another shutdown of bus services in Selangor.

Yes, you may not realize it but the “No Bus For You!” crisis that is affecting our public transport industry has already reached Selangor … and Perak, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, and Pahang. So this would not be the first time!

Earlier this year, Sabak Bernam and Kuala Selangor lost their bus service but no one really noticed … except perhaps the people at TRANSIT and some in the media (and they moved on pretty quickly, as they are apt to do).

But now, the most recent crisis that has been popping up all over the country, caused by CityLiner’s threats to shut down bus services in various states, is suddenly getting the attention of the public.

Cityliner wants govt ‘lifeline’ (The Star)
Tuesday December 13, 2011
By WANI MUTHIAH and JOSEPH KAOS Jr
newsdesk@thestar.com

[TRANSIT: Please help us out by sending comments to the Star using their email address, editor@thestar.com.my or metro@thestar.com.my. You can also consider sending messages through their facebook & twitter feeds. The message has to get out that the public is frustrated!]

PETALING JAYA: Konsortium Transnasional Bhd (KTB), which will suspend its Cityliner bus services in Selangor effective today, will only resume its services if the state government offers it a “lifeline”.

[TRANSIT: It appears that KTB are holding the public hostage!]

KTB executive director Tengku Hasmadi Tengku Hashim said losses incurred by the consortium were too massive for it to continue.

“We are losing about RM8mil a year in Selangor. We appeal to the state government to take the necessary measures to help us,” he told The Star.

Up to 80,000 commuters in Selangor will be hit by Cityliner’s suspension of services.

Tengku Hasmadi said KTB had tried to engage with the Selangor government from as early as last year but had received very slow response and feedback.

“Our first letter was sent to the Mentri Besar (Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim) in May 2010 but we received no response at all.

[TRANSIT: We were giving the Selangor Government feedback in 2008 & 2009 but we did not get much feedback either.]

“Our last letter to the Selangor government was sent on Nov 1 and we had received no response until Dec 1,” he said, adding that letters were also sent to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

He said on Dec 1, KTB forwarded several proposals to Khalid and other officials in a meeting.

“They pledged to come back to us and we extended the bus service for 10 days (from Dec 1),” he added.

Tengku Hasmadi said the current model of stage bus operations, where a private or government-linked consortium wholly shouldered the responsibility of running the business, was not working out well.

“RapidKL is also facing losses but they have the benefit of using taxpayer’s money to sustain their operations.

[TRANSIT: RapidKL receives a capital subsidy because the buses are actually bought by Prasarana. We have been informed that RapidKL also receives a 50% operational subsidy, but we do not have data to confirm that and it has not been discussed very much publicly. With that financial muscle behind you, wouldn’t you want to encourage your (now-weakened) competitors to start “cooperating”.]

“This is not fair,” said Tengku Hasmadi, adding that such a practice smacked of double standards.

He said the Federal or state governments should subsidise the fixed low fares, which was one of the main reasons for the heavy losses. (The fares are fixed and controlled by the Government.)

[TRANSIT: A few million in subsidy here for the auto industry, a few million in subsidy there for the bus industry, and don’t forget the petrol subsidy … pretty soon we will be talking about real money! Remember, there are multiple levels of government, but only one level of taxpayer!]

“Bus fares have only gone up a mere 50 sen over the last 30 years but the price of diesel has gone up about 700%,” he pointed out.

Tengku Hasmadi said if the authorities felt that the stage bus service was essential but needed to be affordable, it has to be provided and funded by the Government.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chief operating officer Azahar Ahmad said the commission was very concerned over the matter and would submit the necessary recommendations to the National Economic Council soon.

Selangor Investment, Trade and Industry Committee chairman Teresa Kok was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) expects to complete negotiations with two private bus companies to share routes and infrastructure in the Klang Valley within three months.

Prasarana group managing director Datuk Shahril Mokhtar said the doors were not closed for negotiations on possible collaboration with other bus companies plying Klang Valley routes.

“The mechanism of the collaboration is being worked out now,” Shahril said after signing a collective agreement with the RapidKL workers union yesterday.

The two private bus companies currently in negotiations with Prasarana, which operates RapidKL, are Setara Jaya Sdn Bhd and Syarikat Len Seng Sdn Bhd.

Shahril said SPAD was also working hard to assist by coming up with a viable code-sharing mechanism.

“For example, RapidKL has 12 buses plying the KL and Bukit Belacan route while another operator has 10 buses.

“Both operators can agree to a common timetable and scheduling. This way, there will be healthy competition,” he explained.

TRANSIT Says:

We knew this was going to happen. We knew that SPAD needed to focus on the bus industry. We knew that the RapidKL experiment would not be sustainable and would hurt the industry. We knew that state governments had to take a role in public transport.

Too bad no one seemed to listen all those years ago when TRANSIT was talking.

And now they all see the writing on the wall but they do not know what to do. How do you handle a crisis when you do not know what to do? There is really only one option – do everything you can to buy time and hope that the problem will fix itself.

That’s where we are, ladies & gentlemen. We are in that period where SPAD is hoping to buy time by encouraging everyone to try to solve the problem in their own way.

Why doesn’t SPAD just find a state government that is cooperative and experienced (like, say, Penang), and work with them to implement the Bus Transformation Plan? After all, if they are confident in their own plan, then why not work to implement it?

Someone has got to understand that the public is frustrated and angry. We told the government and SPAD to focus on improving the bus industry and fix the problems today. Instead they focused all their energies on the promise of an MRT…something which will not solve our current problems.

Passengers criticise move to halt bus services (The Star)
Tuesday December 13, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: Bus passengers are feeling frustrated by the stage bus company Cityliner’s decision to stop its services in Selangor from today.

Thousands of daily passengers, especially those who regularly commute on its routes from Kuala Lumpur to parts of Selangor, will be severely affected by the halt.

Many would be forced to switch to other forms of public transport.

Student Norfazmira Kamal, 19, said it would be a struggle to travel from home to university daily should the bus service come to a halt.

“I have no other choice but to take the KTM Komuter to go back home,” she said at Pudu Sentral here yesterday.

It was reported that Konsortium Transnasional Bhd (KTB), which owns the Cityliner company with 150 stage buses in Selangor alone, had been recording losses of RM8mil every year.

Assistant administrator, Suria Kasim (pic), 32, said it would take longer to commute from her workplace to her home in Klang.

“This is troublesome for passengers who take the bus daily. I would usually be home by 7pm if I take the bus. But now, using the train, I would be home much later than usual,” she said.

Shopkeeper Cindy Lim urged the Government to come up with solutions because most passengers were from the lower income group.

TRANSIT Says:

We have to wonder how much longer the public will take it … and how long it will take for our governments to realize that the people may want an LRT or MRT but they need better bus services today … and they could make this a real issue if governments are not careful.

Selangor looks into cheaper public transport (The Star)
Thursday December 15, 2011
By WANI MUTHIAH and TEH ENG HOCK

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor government may be drawing up a cheaper public transportation model as it remains steadfast in its decision not to subsidise bus operator Konsortium Transnasional Bhd (KTB).

Stopping short of saying that Selangor would offer its own bus services, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said that he did not want to preempt the results of its discussion with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) today.

I don’t think the local governments are capable of handling it without a break-even revenue. They are not going to make profits of course, but they have to sustain the cost of maintaining the operations. – Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim

At present, he said the state could offer public transportation through local governments but were not allowed to collect fares.

“I don’t think the local governments are capable of handling it without a break-even revenue.

“They are not going to make profits of course, but they have to sustain the cost of maintaining the operations.

“This will surely be cheaper than the commercial public transport cost,” he said here yesterday.

Khalid said he was against giving KTB a subsidy because doing so was akin to charging taxpayers twice.

“Once, by giving the company profitable routes and the second time, by giving a subsidy for their unprofitable routes,” he said

He also said that the company had made money from certain inter-city routes.

On Tuesday, KTB suspended the services of its stage bus Cityliner fleet citing losses of RM8mil a year, leaving some 80,000 commuters stranded.

This had forced commuters to seek alternative transport.

KTB executive director Tengku Hasmadi Tengku Hashim said it was unfair of Selangor to reject its plea outright.

He added that it was missing the point with the insinuation that Cityliner was using profits from lucrative routes to cover the non-profitable ones.

“This is possible 15 to 20 years ago when bus companies were given routes that were exclusively theirs but the situation has changed,” said Tengku Hasmadi.

He said in the last five years, the then Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board had issued permits to different bus companies to ply the same routes as theirs.

“These new companies were given licences to only service the lucrative routes but not the social routes.

“We are obligated to service the non-profitable routes.

“At the same time, our profits from the lucrative routes had to be shared with these new companies,” he said.

Tengku Hasmadi said Selangor should emulate Penang and Negri Sembilan in coming to KTB’s aid.

Transport Workers Union secretary-general Zainal Rampak agreed that multiple stage bus companies plying the same routes was a major problem for the operators.

“This should not be allowed to go on,” alleged Zainal.

He added that SPAD must now take it upon themselves to look into and rectify the matter.

However, Zainal said KTB must also find ways to overcome its woes.

TRANSIT Says:

How long, how long must we sing this song?

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2 thoughts on “No bus for you reaches Selangor … again! (Update #4)”

  1. We’ve always said local public transport is controlled by the federal government; if so, why are the operators banging on the state for bail-outs instead of the ones who hired them in the first place? Someone kindly explain the disconnect here.

    1. @Ethan

      that is a very good question. Of course only the regulation is federal, planning & management is for anyone who is interested to take action. So far only Penang (CAT & BEST) and Malacca (PMCT) have tried to do anything about it.

      On the other hand it could be a delaying tactic. Complain to the “wrong” people, then say that no one is listening to you while things are getting harder & harder, until you have no choice.

      Regards, moaz for transit

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