Thursday, May 28, 2015

Free 'buses for the people' link three cities in Malaysia

BY PRIYA MENON, The Star (, 28 May 2015

MBPJs Free Community Bus (FCB) waiting for passengers at Jalan Yong Shook Lin bus stop.

Shah Alam, Subang Jaya and Klang city residents’ dream of enjoying free public transportation will come true in July when the Selangor (State) government starts its free bus services in the three townships.

The bus service will enable about 24,000 people to travel around those three areas for free and with ease.

Selangor Investment, Industry (SME) & Commerce and Transportation committee chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim said the project would cost RM3.6mil a year.

The money is from the transportation committee budget, costing RM1.2mil for each 10km route, he added.

“The possible routes have already been identified with one each in Shah Alam, Subang and Klang,” Teng said, adding that the free bus service was decided after studying the free bus service in Petaling Jaya, known as the PJ City Bus.

The proposed routes, designed by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), Klang Municipal Council, and Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ), he said, had been submitted to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for approval.

Teng added that the bus was expected to pass through busy areas including government buildings, schools, commercial districts and KTM Komuter stations.

“The routes planned by MPSJ will also run along the new Kelana Jaya LRT extension. We will not pass through areas that are being serviced by commercial bus operators because we do not want to compete with them,” Teng said.

The three townships, he said, were chosen since they were the largest areas with serious traffic problem.

Teng added that the service provider would supply 10 buses and the state government would pay a lump sum for the rental, services and maintenance of the vehicles.

There were two options for the bus services, namely renting the vehicles or buying and maintaining them, he said.

He added that the ideal move would be to rent the buses and get the companies to maintain them.

He said a reputable firm, to be revealed later by Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali during the launch, had been chosen to spearhead the pilot project.

All three councils will begin the bus service simultaneously to make it easier to make any changes along the way.
Community buses were introduced in Shah Alam last year

When asked about the poor ridership on PJ City Bus and the possibility of the same problem in the new areas, Teng said it was only a hiccup at the initial stage.

“It is difficult for people who have been driving all the while to start using public transportation, but more people are aware of it and are starting to use the services,” he explained.

Teng said PJ City Bus that was launched on May 14 last year, catered to about 9,000 passengers a day. It covers a 28.2km-route from the bus terminal in Jalan PJS 3/11 and services the Kampung Dato Harun KTM station, Asia Jaya LRT station and Sections 14, 16 and 17.

Other areas covered include Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and PJ Old Town.

It is aimed at getting more people to use public transport to get around Petaling Jaya, especially during peak hours in the morning and evening.

The operating hours are from 6am to 9pm daily to cater to schoolchildren and working adults.
MBSA corporate communications deputy director Shahrin Ahmad said the council already had an existing free bus service but it ran only three times a day — at 7.30am, 11.30am and 4.30pm.

The bus routes with 25 stops, runs from the Shah Alam city bus station in Section 14, and passes through Sections 2, 7, 11, 16, 17 and 18.



He  hoped to incorporate new routes under the new proposal to the existing stops. “This will definitely help the lower income group we targeted when the community bus rides were first introduced,” he added.

Welcoming the move, Selangor Wanita MCA chief Ong Chong Swen said its effectiveness could be measured only after its implementation. “I welcome anything that is beneficial for the people, whether the idea comes from Pakatan or Barisan Nasional,” she said.

Ong suggested that the cost of the project be checked to ensure it was cost effective and matched the running costs of the bus operators.

USJ 6 Rukun Tetangga (KRT USJ 6) deputy chairman Juan Lee said they had waited for the free bus service for some time.

He said USJ 2, USJ 6 and USJ 5 were home to many senior citizens and free transportation would be ideal for them.

“Most senior citizens find it a hassle to drive and find parking when they run errands. The bus will make the journey fuss-free,” he added.

Juan also suggested that the bus service catered to the rush hour traffic to ease congestion in the bustling neighbourhood.

A bus service at peak hours, he said, would be useful for residents working and studying within the Subang Jaya area, especially in crowded places like SS15 and Taipan.