Category Archives: RapidPenang

Haphazard halts are a sign of haphazard planning and policy and organization and management….and especially leadership.

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.

Continue reading Haphazard halts are a sign of haphazard planning and policy and organization and management….and especially leadership.


‘Solutions’ to public transport problems focusing on the bus industry, not public transport users

By now everyone should be aware that a major crisis is taking place in the bus industry.

The shut down of CityLiner bus services throughout was the major ‘tipping pint’ in a series of crises [TRANSIT: refer to our “No Bus for You” series of posts] that showed the precarious state of public transport and the bus industry – and made it clear that SPAD has lost the plot by focusing on the MRT project rather than revamping & transforming public transport.

The nation-wide collapse of bus services are continuing, despite the recent announcement that the Malaysian Government has approved an RM400mn fund for public transport operators. Applications for this fund began earlier this week and SPAD intends to release the first Rm100mn as soon as possible.

TRANSIT notes that the government is stepping in with the financial aid to bus operators. We also note that Prasarana-RapidKL have talked about improving cooperation (actually, we should say “starting” cooperation) with private bus operators to reduce wasteful competition on different routes. At the same time, taxi drivers and other bus companies are benefiting from the lack of competition in the Klang area since CityLiner shut down bus services, affecting thousands of public transport users.

However, we need the government, SPAD and Prasarana-RapidKL to acknowledge that their “solutions” are not holistic and not sustainable. The problem is that they are focusing on short-term solutions for the crisis, not long-term solutions that will make public transport work, sustainably and effectively, and most importantly, meet the needs of public transport users.

And this, ladies & gentlemen, is the biggest problem. Everyone talks about fixing public transport but all the solutions that are put forward focus on the bus industry, rather than the public transport service. What’s worse is that the ‘solutions’ still fail to consider the needs of the public transport users.

Read about TRANSIT’s take on the issues and a proposed action plan after the jump! Continue reading ‘Solutions’ to public transport problems focusing on the bus industry, not public transport users

Penang expands car-free Sundays in George Town

TRANSIT took note of this article announcing the expansion of car-free Sundays in the central business district of George Town.

This initiative of the Penang Government and MPPP will likely be well-received by most residents of the area as well as visitors.

We hope to see more people using public transportation to get to the Central Business District to enjoy the car-free spaces in a carefree manner.

Ban’s on every Sunday (The Star)
Saturday December 10, 2011

DRIVERS and motorcyclists heading towards George Town’s Central Business District on Sunday from now onwards should take note that certain stretches of roads will be cordoned off from 7am to 5pm in conjunction with ‘Car Free Day’.

The affected roads are parts of Beach Street, Bishop Street, Church Street, and the whole of Church Street Ghaut which runs from Weld Quay to Beach Street. Continue reading Penang expands car-free Sundays in George Town

Prasarana proposes cooperation and “code share” system for Klang Valley bus operators (Update #1)

Update: The response from bus operators & government is mixed!

Yesterday TRANSIT learned of a proposal from Prasarana, the government-owned “National Infrastructure Company” to introduce a cooperative system between bus operators, where bus operators would share information, operate routes together under “code sharing” agreements, and implement “blue ocean strategy” to rationalize their operations.

We were immediately surprised and intrigued by the possibilities … and wary of the risks.

The public transport industry in Malaysia is in crisis. Part of the reason for this is because there is no holistic understanding within the government and among the public of what public transport is (a public utility), what it does (stimulates and ensures productivity and economic growth), and what it provides (mobility and access).

Malaysia has no National Public Transport Strategy or any form of cohesive public transport strategy except for “build infrastructure” and “subsidize or buy out when necessary.” And we should mention that to many Malaysians both of those “strategies” have the unfortunate subtext of “enrich cronies.”

What makes things worse is that there is no clear interest in improving public transport services or approaching (and appreciating) public transport as a public utility with economic & social benefits. The public does not seem to be aware and the state & local governments did not seem to care.

Until the crisis started, that is.

Now state governments are being forced to take notice and ensure that there are solutions to the problems in the industry. Unfortunately, they do not have the knowledge, experience or the tools to ensure these solutions will work.

SPAD has asked state governments to do whatever they can to resolve the problems in the short term. The Governments of Penang and Negri Sembilan have stepped in with subsidies. Prasarana’s proposal for cooperation might represent an alternative way of doing things – but the big question is, Will private operators want to work with a government-owned asset-owner-cum-operator that receives capital & operational subsidy from the federal government and appears to be actively competing with private operators on any number of routes?

And more importantly, will corporate collaboration work effectively and meet the needs of the public transport users?

More information, articles & comments after the jump!
Continue reading Prasarana proposes cooperation and “code share” system for Klang Valley bus operators (Update #1)

CityLiner to receive operations subsidy from Penang Government

TRANSIT took note of this article which states that the Penang Government will provide an operational subsidy of RM140,000 per month to bus operator CityLiner to continue operating bus services in Sebarang Prai until May 2012.

This came after the bus companies operating under the CityLiner brand threatened to stop bus operations in Sebarang Prai as of November 21st, because the operations had become unsustainable due to low revenues and higher costs. This came as part of a shutdown in multiple states that has provided major inconvenience for public transport users throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

CityLiner is the stage bus brand of Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB), which is Malaysia’s largest bus operator.

Cityliner gets subsidy to keep it going (The Star)
Saturday December 10, 2011

BUTTERWORTH: Cityliner buses will continue to provide services on the Penang mainland at least until May next year.

The Penang Government will provide a RM140,000 subsidy per month to Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB) for six months to help the company maintain the Cityliner service.

State Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state had accepted the subsidy proposal by KTB as a short-term remedy for the company to continue providing the bus service. Continue reading CityLiner to receive operations subsidy from Penang Government

Updates #98

Updates #98

1. Article: Firm denies using taxi coupons to make ‘easy money’ (NST, 10 August 2011) – Mohd Nasir Mohd Rashid, Exec. Chairman of MESRA Indah Jaya Sdn. Bhd. which operates the taxi coupon system in Johor Baru, has denied allegations that it is making an “RM2 profit from the sale of coupons as alleged” but only “taking a 10 per cent commission to cover our maintenance and management costs.”

2. Article: Bandar Kinrara 3 residents want Station 5 moved (The Star, 9 August 2011)

3. Article: SPAD to boost Raya road safety (The Malay Mail, 10 August 2011) – SPAD’s first time participating in the annual Balik Kampung / Hari Raya safety campaign, from 14 August – 14 September including investigation & checking of public transport vehicles “round-the-clock”. Unfortunately, we also read this article: Article: Meddling riders a problem, drivers say (The Star, 11 August 2011) in which JPJ director-general Solah Mat Hassan appears to blame passengers for asking questions and pressuring drivers into driving faster.

Express bus passengers should ensure a safe journey by not pressuring their drivers unnecessarily, said Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan.

He said passenger pressure was a big concern for many drivers who felt pressured to drive faster to reach their destination quickly.

“Some always ask ‘what time will we reach?’ Passengers must not give drivers this unnecessary pressure.

TRANSIT: What nonsense! As if passengers asking “are we there yet?” is the only factor behind our unsafe buses?

4. Articles: NST has two articles about the upcoming Balik Kampung rush: Continue reading Updates #98

Updates #88 – our most prosperous update ever!

Updates #88 – our most prosperous update ever

1. Article: Lounge around in a Rapid bus (The Star, 3 June 2011) – RapidPenang introduces RapidMobile, a “lounge” with a Blaupunkt Stereo system.

State-of-the-art sound system: Blaupunkt logistics and regional distribution director Hafiz Abidin showing Sandhu the functions and features of the company's New York 800 mobile entertainment system which has been installed in Rapid Mobile. Image courtesy of The Star.

[TRANSIT: You have to admire their creativity.]

2. Article: CURTAINS DOWN (NST 31 May 2011) – an update on the upcoming closure (at the end of June 2011) of KTM railway stations at Tg. Pagar and Bukit Timah in Singapore – with two excellent photos!
Continue reading Updates #88 – our most prosperous update ever!

Another foreigner got upset with RapidPenang’s bus map (Update #1)

Once again, we hear of a foreigner lamenting on Rapid Penang’s lack of concern over making their bus routes, stops and timetables legible to users. The comment, which appears on today’s Aliran, also touches on transit-oriented city planning and Malaysia’s negative build-rail-to-solve-congestion mentality.

Behind the surface issues are, of course, the problems with policy-making & cooperation that make improving public transport so frustrating.

ALIRAN Newspaper, April 20, 2011

Penang: Easier to win lottery than to find bus routes info — Florian Ladage

APRIL 20 — I’ve been “enjoying” Penang’s public transport system only for a few weeks now, but even after that short period of time, there can be no doubt that what is in place right now is not doing the job. Continue reading Another foreigner got upset with RapidPenang’s bus map (Update #1)

Rapid Penang rides? There’s an app for that! (now available)

Update: The Rapid Penang app is now available at this link:

TRANSIT noted some very interesting articles from up in Penang that we thought would interest you.

First, for the benefit of customers, RapidPenang has launched their iPlanner application for Apple iPhone and iPad products. The item will be available for free download from the Apple iTunes “App Store” and TRANSIT will post the link as soon as it is uploaded.

TRANSIT also notes that RapidPenang expects to carry 48 million riders next year once the 200 new buses arrive at the end of this year. 60 of the 200 buses will be double decker buses which will expand the passenger capacity of the fleet while reducing operational costs. TRANSIT is looking forward to seeing the buses on the roads of Penang and we will share any info that we have with you about the buses.

Outgoing Rapid Penang CEO Azhar Ahmad says among his challenges in transforming public transport in the state was getting the authorities to work in tandem with Rapid Penang. Image courtesy of NST.

Finally, TRANSIT notes that Azhar Ahmad, CEO of RapidPenang, made his farewells yesterday. Azhar has been appointed the Chief Operating Officer of the Land Public Transport Commission, filling the position left by Shahril Mokhtar, who was appointed Managing Director of Prasarana in September 2010.


TRANSIT thanks Azhar for 4 years of effort to improve public transport in Penang. We expect that he will be sorely missed there. And we wish him the best of luck with the challenge of revamping the bus system in Malaysia through his position with SPAD.

Read an interview with Azhar after the jump Continue reading Rapid Penang rides? There’s an app for that! (now available)

Updates #79

Updates #79 – This is our real post for 1 April 2011!

1. Article: Three-tiered parking complex to be built at Serdang KTM station (The Star, 29 March 2011)

2. Article: RapidKL bus division receives ISO Certification – two articles, from NST & Malay Mail on 30 March 2011.

3. Letter: MRT: Learn and adopt from the best system (NST, 30 March 2011) – A. AZMI, of Kuala Lumpur writes that we should look carefully at the design of the Singapore MRT as a model for our own.

4. Article: Main complaint: Express buses (Malay Mail, 29 March 2011) – Over 80% of the 3362 complaints received by SPAD since January relate to express buses. In a linked article, the President of the Pan-Malaysian Bus Operators’ Association (PMBOA) says that bus operators should be required by the government to post driver information inside the bus.

[TRANSIT: Sigh, Ashfar you are the president of the Association. Set an example by getting the big companies to do so. Then, tell the public to only use ‘reputable’ bus companies that inform the public. You’re a businessman. Why do you always want to wait for a government decree to take positive action???]

5. Letter: Sort out driver issue and all will fall in place (The Star, 31 March 2011) – Zamri Mahmud writes that the complaints about express bus drivers (described above) are likely because of their behaviour & resolution will come through increased enforcement & better training (funded & organized through the LPTC).

[TRANSIT: Yes…and no. There are more issues than simply ‘attitude’ and those issues have been well-documented. We do agree that there is a need for public transport-focused training for operators & drivers.]

6. Article: Roadshows to promote Best bus service (The Star, 31 March 2011) – Self explanatory.

7. Article: Public bus services in Manjung to be upgraded (The Star, 31 March 2011) – THE Perak government will spend RM4.32mil over the next five years (RM72,000 monthly) to revive public bus services in the Manjung district. New services (managed by a private company) are expected to begin next month.

8. Article: Residents express fear over LRT routes (The Star, 31 March 2011) – Residents of Putra Heights and Taman Subang Alam, have continued to express their concerns over the proposed LRT extension route near their areas. The issue was also mentioned in the Selangor Times.