TRANSIT took note of this interesting photo of a sign in one of our LRT trains – advertising improvements to RapidKL bus services.
To the top of the photo, we see an advertisement for RapidBET Route #3, which connects Subang Mewah to Pasar Seni, Kuala Lumpur. And down in the right hand corner, the message “RapidBRT Akan Datang! Coming Soon!”
TRANSIT took note of the following interesting news – the Malacca state government is stepping forward with plans to compensate 10 existing public transport operators in the state with RM7.7 million, with a plan to for state-owned operator Panorama to take over the operations from the private operators on February 1st of this year.
The takeover proposal appears to forestall the warnings from the Malacca Omnibus Operators Association that they would be forced to stop services on February 1st.
MALACCA: Malacca’s ailing omnibus operators will get RM7.7mil in compensation from the state.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam also announced Thursday that the state-owned agency, PMTC, would fully take over the stage bus operations from Feb 1 while the current dilapidated buses used by ten operators would be replaced in stages.
The memorandum of understanding between the state government and Malacca Omnibus operators was signed at Dewan Seri Negeri.
So, the state government is paying RM7.7 million to buy old buses from these bus operators, which they will then turn around and use on the existing public transport routes while the buses are replaced over time.
That basically sounds to us like the process by which Intrakota and later RapidKL were created – pay good public money to buy up near worthless private assets, buy new bus chassis at an inflated cost with a ‘too-short’ timeline, leading to:
contracts for Malaysian bus assemblers;
a need to purchase new buses in a few years;
public complaints about the loss of competition.
Hopefully, the Malacca government and SPAD will have learned from the mistakes made by RapidKL & Prasarana in the past. One wise step to take would be to take the purchase of new buses out of the hands of Panorama Melaka Cultural & Tourism (and the state government) and put the purchase in the hands of national infrastructure company, Prasarana.
Why? Because first of all, Prasarana knows what buses to buy, thanks to their 5 extra years experience in purchasing buses. Second, Prasarana is the national infrastructure company, with the right financial backing to get the buses at a great price. Third, it is best to keep the purchase of buses neutral and focused on the improvements, not potential opportunities.
TRANSIT also believes that the Malacca Government needs to develop a concise and effective public transport plan that builds on the major corridors that need to be served – namely the existing Malacca town buses, Malacca – Ayer Keroh route (including the proposed Malacca Tram), and the intercity services connecting Malacca town to Alor Gajah and Tampin (where it can link to KTM train services including possible future ETS.
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.
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.
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.
Update: @TWK90 found another place to host the bus photos. Check out the links below!
TRANSIT recently took note of a set of photos of new RapidKL buses in action, courtesy of @TWK90, a regular on many Malaysian public transport-related forums who has provided us with many excellent pictures of buses, trains, signage, stations, etc.
These pictures show a RapidKL 8m long bus, at Taman Bahagia LRT station.
Strangely enough, the bus is signed for Route T625 on the front destination sign, but Route T624 on the side and rear signs! Route T624 actually services Kelana Jaya LRT station.
As you can see from the photos below, the bus is a flat-floor bus, fully accessible with a ramp at the back door. The bus is assembled by SKSBUS, which is one of Malaysia’s well-known bus body assemblers, and is apparently built on a HINO chassis.
We at TRANSIT look forward to seeing more of these accessible buses for RapidKL’s local services. In addition, we want to see some expansion of local bus routes – especially routes that actually enter certain housing estates.
RapidKL claims to serve 980 housing areas around the Klang Valley but this service is poor and in many cases, housing areas lost their Tempatan local services in 2008 as part of RapidKL’s ill-conceived rationalization of bus services.
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?
Update: This article from the NST describes a smooth transition to the new integrated ticketing system!
TRANSIT took note of the news that LRT – LRT ticketing integration will begin on 28 November 2011.
Of course, the LRT-LRT ticketing integration is not really that big a deal. And unfortunately, customers will not benefit from a reduction in the fares, which still reflect the old system where the STAR & PUTRA line were operated by separate companies and transferring from one LRT to the other required the passenger to pay a new “starting fare” because they were making a “new” trip.
In case you are wondering, the starting fares are:
A person transferring between the Ampang Line and Kelana Jaya line making only a 2-station journey (say, from Psara Seni to Bandaraya via Masjid Jamek) would pay RM2.20 for their fare. RM2.10 would take you from Kelana Jaya to KL Sentral & Pasar Seni, and RM2.30 from Kelana Jaya to Masjid Jamek!
Is that a fair fare?
What fare integration does involve is the construction of a newly designed station arcade at Masjid Jamek as well as the launch of new Ticket Vending Machines that will allow the integration of LRT-LRT fares.
Now, let us have a “TRANSIT moment”, where we look at a significant improvement to public transport and still find a way to complain.
Oh, wait, we already did complain about starting fares above. So let’s “complain” again, by pointing out the fact that the integration of LRT fares has taken more than 7 years to complete. In contrast, when the government of Hong Kong forced the merger of the MTR & KCR railway systems, under the MTR Banner, fare integration was complete in 7 months!
We know public transport is moving forward – we just want to move forward faster, and further and further away from the “bad old days” of the past (like, 2004-2010)
TRANSIT took note of a very interesting commentary from Ahmad Suhaili Idrus, the Director of the Urban Public Transport NKRA and Greater Kuala Lumpur / Klang Valley NKEA in response to a letter from TRANSIT’s Advisor Rajiv Rishyakaran, regarding recent comments by Idris Jala that the Klang Valley would be choked by 2020 if the MRT was not built.
Ahmad Suhaili attempted to clarify the situation by saying that the NKEA / NKRA projects related to public transport included improvements to rail and bus services, improved integration, improved infrastructure and expanded services. You can read the full comment below, but first, consider clicking on these links for some background information: