Reading this article : New look bus shelters for KL in The Star Online - Metro amuses me. A question immediately crossed my mind : is this part of the so-called improvement to public transportation in tandem with ubiquituous dissatisfaction on the recent 40% fuel price hike? I have previously blogged about the increase in Horrible Jam and Fuel Price Hike : Questions and Opinions
I hope that this is not the only solution being put forward. Bus shelter is the least worrying problem of the terrible Malaysian public transportation system. The Explicit tells us the improved shelters will provide more comfortability for bus users. Let's all pray and wish hard that this is not an implicit sign denoting longer waiting time for buses, therefore to make the commuters slightly less stressful and angry, instead of adjusting the system, the waiting stand is upgraded. If this is the only effort, I would feel very concerned.
To date, I have yet to read any sound proposal from our Ministry of Transportation or its Minister on integrating the public transportation system. No one is particularly sure whether we will get to see another Ling Liong Sik-styled Ministry (in the making perhaps?). It is indeed unfortunate that good common sense only came to Dr. Chua Soi Lek, who is no longer a Minister. He wrote Public Transportation System: Urgent Need to Improve Efficiency highlighting an efficient integrated system as a priority.
An important excerpt from the entry :
Because of the inconveniences that the commuter has to go through and the poor integration of the rail, bus and taxi, the commuter has no choice but to opt for their own transports. An international study conducted a few years ago had rated the KL transport system as worst than Bangkok, while we continue to convince ourselves that we have a good road system and have the highest number of car ownership in ASEAN *
With the escalating fuel cost, lack of public transportation system has become an economic and social problem to average commuters. Unless the government can improve the transportation system in Klang Valley, it will continue to be the hot issues for the Pakatan Rakyat.
* Citation needed for the international study. Otherwise, this statement is deem inconclusive and should be taken only as an opinion and not as fact. However, it should not be dimissed that the KL system is deplorable.
My Experience as a Commuter
In the past, much had been said. Taking out smaller issues like comfortability, prices and quality of customer service, I would conclude the "root of evil" in this public transportation system is on "Inconsistency". The weakest transport mode would be KTM Komuter and buses.
While it is understood that KTM Komuter has an old system, it baffles me that there are new buses which regulate at an 1 hour ++ intervals at night. One fine Sunday night, I tried using the service only to realise the Jalan Othman (Petaling Jaya) and Taman Gembira buses arrive once after Taman Desa, Puchong, O.U.G. and several common buses went through three intervals.
It is like seeing people rushing to grab food from U.N. officers in a month's long drought season or after a calamity. The bus was horribly packed and people had to stand at the stairs with the "Jangan Berdiri di Tangga" precaution on the door. If one thought those days of those small, rapid and dangerous "Bas Mini" are over, think again. There were times, I had to stand right in front of the windscreen without much space to move. I would say the driver could not see the left side of the mirror at that time. I would not want to imagine whether I would be transformed into a "launching missile" in a bus-car collision.
There is one thing that is worth mentioning about "Bas Mini". At least, they were more frequent than the longer new ones. There should be no excuses that the long waiting period for those buses are because of traffic jam. There were no jams for my route home on the mentioned Sunday night.
Imagine if you are unfortunate enough to move from one place that requires KTM Komuter and a bus to either Jalan Othman or Taman Gembira. After a delay of probably 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes 30 minutes if some trains technically broke down) for a KTM train, spend another 10 to 15 to walk from the station in KL to Klang Bus Stand and another 1 hour to wait for the bus. Spend 1/2 an hour to reach home. Collectively, that would be 2 to 3 hours to get home. Luckily, the situation in morning is often more positive. Basically, one has "no life".
One may ask how I managed to survive all this. Sometimes I follow my friend's car or LRTs. When I reached KL or other stations, I will take a costlier transport home : the taxi. Comparatively, minus off the cost of buying a car (using the instalment scheme) and road tax, the accumulated cost of travelling by public transportation is slightly more expensive.
For some personal reasons, I am not getting a car anytime soon. I would have bought one if I have better financial means. I would like to convince my pals and readers to opt for public transportation but how could I do it when I read articles like this from Che Det on RAPID KL? Who is this company affiliated with? The public should be informed whether it has anything to do with people who promise public transportation system reforms during the recent fuel price hike.
P.S. http://klcommuter.blogspot.com/ is doing a good job in posting entries (with pictures) on the subject matter.
This article is also published in http://www.malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/8689/84/
Wednesday, June 11, 2008