TRANSIT took note of this article in the Star Metro which reminded us how much more needs to be done to improve public transport organization and management in the Klang Valley.
Haphazard halts (The Star Metro, 29 April 2014)
MORE often than not, public buses in the Klang Valley can be seen stopping to pick up passengers willy-nilly, be it by the roadside, along a flyover or even at the junction of a busy main road.
The lack of a proper bus stop or lay-by, does not seem to faze the drivers and the practise has been going on for years.
However, their actions not only contribute to traffic congestion but also pose a threat to life and limb as passengers scramble to board the bus on a busy road.
And while you read the article, ask yourself why there is still no regional public transport organizing authority to plan, manage and organize public transport in the Klang Valley.
The definition of insanity
Because you see, we’ve tried everything else. Elimination of minibuses? We tried that. Consolidation of bus companies? Tried that with IntraKOTA. Government-owned consolidation (a.k.a. bailouts of failed attempts at private public transport)? Tried that with Prasarana. Separate owner and operator? Tried that with Prasarana and RapidKL. Hub-and-spoke system? Tried that with RapidKL. GLC Umbrella and subsidiaries? Tried that with Prasarana and RapidKL, RapidPenang and now RapidKuantan. Rapid transit projects mooted and financed by private companies? Tried that with STAR, PUTRA and the KL Monorail.
Regional Public Transport Organizing Authority for the Klang Valley to manage, organize and plan public transport…taking away the haphazardness and poor planning and terrible service? Never. tried. that.
No information for you!
And unfortunately, there is nothing to suggest it will happen anytime soon. So the competency and accountability don’t exist and there is nothing to bring it forward.
Here is a prime example:
check on MyRapid, the public transport portal, showed that the routes were listed, but the schedule and timings were not avaiblable. [Sic.]
Ok so disregard the spelling mistake and focus on the detail. RapidKL has this information but they choose not to share it because they don’t have to. And herein lies the problem of transparency and lack of accountability. RapidKL has bus schedules. Their buses are GPS-tracked. But for whatever they do not want to make that information public under an open data policy so the public could create useful public transport apps that actually track buses in real time, or get access to services like Nextbus.
Azhar Ghazali of Prasarana describes the route planning process here:
“The process of opening new routes is a multi-layered one starting with requests from public groups directed to us and external parties like the local authorities and SPAD, or if there are new housing areas.
“Once all the data is collected, we carry out feasibility studies on necessary routes, with more than 90% of the current 169 routes serviced by Rapid KL as non-profitable and for the people,” he said.
As you can see…they have some data….but there is no effort to make the data public or real – time so it can actually be useful to help the public plan their trips. Why does Prasarana continue to keep this information hidden?
Local Government, SPAD and Miscommunication
It’s not as if Prasarana is at fault here. They are partially responsible because they have not made the effort to provide basic bus schedules to the public. They could provide real time info but they choose to keep the data hidden. But more importantly they are only one stakeholder in this mess that is our public transport system. Local government authorities and SPAD are failing us too:
A representative from the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) engineering department added that there were many new routes the council did not know about.
“We have not built any new bus stops recently, but we will do so when residents request for it,” he said.
He added that information on bus routes will only be requested from the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) when they receive requests to build bus stops along a certain road.
A spokesman from the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) engineering department said they did not have the authority to take action against the bus operators.
“We have actually had many discussions on how to tackle this problem and even met with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) representatives but it requires a lot of work as it involves many different parties,” he said.
The spokesman added that there were more than 400 bus stops within MPK’s jurisdiction but as many as 30% were not in use.
The proper bus stop facilities are in place but the routes have been abandoned as drivers ignore the bus stops.
In these few paragraphs you can see the problems with public transport illustrated very clearly. Now you know why the problems exist, and why it is so important to have a local public transport organizing authority for Klang Valley.
The current system fragments public transport and makes it inefficient and ineffective. Bus stops are in the hands of local governments that know nothing about routes Routes are in the hands of private companies that care very little for bus stops (including RapidKL, despite their claims that they don’t stop at unmarked halts). Approval of routes is in the hands of a central government authority (SPAD) that knows nothing about the local area or its public transport needs and challenges. Route planning is either non-existent, ad hoc, or in the case of Prasarana, in the hands of an organization that cares little for transparency and is accountable to no one.
A local public transport organizing authority for Klang Valley would cut through the bureaucratic congestion by ensuring that it takes care of the managing and planning and organization of public transport services. But until the laws are changed we will only see the same problems recurring over and over again.
As always, your comments and feedback are welcomed.