Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Making the best of public transport

AS a daily commuter on the RapidKL LRT between the stations of Plaza Rakyat and Titiwangsa, I praise the authorities for the excellent service. For nearly ten years now, I have been traveling almost everyday to and from my office on the trains, previously managed by STAR LRT.
Traveling on the trains is first class, comparable to the ones in developed nations,
but as the saying goes, to be competitive one has to be open to criticism. The same has to be said about the public transportation in our country as a large section of the public would be depending on it in the near future. After the hike in petrol and diesel prices more and more people are abandoning their vehicles and are forced to use the public transport system.
In KL, the light rail transit including the monorail are efficient, but the support system or services after one alights from a station is not up to par. In my case, I am fortunate, for my office is a walking distance from the Titiwangsa station, but what about
others whose destinations are far from the stations?
Regarding the public transport in Kuala Lumpur,Wikipedia, reports that utilization rates are low. Currently, only 16 percent of the population uses public transportation. Commuters cite poor quality of service as the main reason for the low usage.
Talking about the poor service, it was good news when deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak on 29 August 2006, announced anRM10 billion plan to expandKuala Lumpur ‘s public
transport network. The plan includes the LRT that is extending the existing Kelana Jaya Line from Kelana Jaya to USJ and the Ampang Line from Sri Petaling to Puchong and USJ.
The plan also will see a new light rail transit line being constructed between Kota Damansara to the northwest of Kuala Lumpur and Cheras which lies to the southeast of Kuala Lumpur.
No details of the alignment of the extensions nor the locations of new stations were revealed. The new line is expected to be ready by 2012, however, as of July 2008, no construction
has started.
This is really bad.
When the price of petrol was raised by 30 sen a litre in 2006, the government claimed it could save some RM4.3 billion. Top government leaders promised to restructure the existing public transport system, particular the LRT.
But according to answers given in Parliament, the government had only spent some RM834.75 million on public transport facilities since that date. Where had the rest of the money gone to? The public transport facility in KL is almost the same as before and the situation is worse in the rural areas.
It is common for those living in the housing areas in the outskirts of KL and in the rural areas to complain that they had to wait an hour or two for the bus to take them to town. Many office workers shy away from public transport, fearing they would be late for work.Now that the prices of petrol and diesel had been raised 86 sen and RM1.00 per litre respectively, the government said it could,save some RM13 billion. If the RM4.3 billion could not
be spent wisely on upgrading public transport facilities, what assurance is there that some of the RM13 billion would not be thrown down the drain?
Looking at scenario of congested roads in KL and,its traffic nightmares, it is highly recommended the,government and planners put in more effort to upgrade and make the rail transport in the city up to date.
Today in Kuala Lumpur, we have the Kelana Jaya,Line, that is between Terminal Putra (Gombak) and Kelana Jaya which services,23 stations over 29 kilometers, operated by
RapidKL Rail; the Ampang Line (Yellow and Green lines) between Sentul Timur
and Sri Petaling that covers 18 stations over 15 kilometers, operated by
RapidKL Rail and between Sentul Timur and Ampang which services 18 stations over 15 kilometers, operated by RapidKL Rail.
The KTM Komuter operates the Sentul-Port Klang Line, between Sentul and Port Klang which runs through 22 stations over 153 kilometers; the Rawang-Seremban Line, between
Rawang and Seremban with 23 stations over 153 kilometers; and the Rawang-Kuala Kubu Bharu Shuttle Service between Rawang and Kuala Kubu Bharu which covers five stations
over 22 kilometers.The KL Monorail runs services between KL Sentral and Titiwangsa with 11 stations over 8.6 kilometers while the ERL operates the KLIA Ekspres (from KL Sentral to KLIA- the international airport) which is a non-stop 75 kilometer line; and the KLIA Transit (between KL Sentral and KLIA with five stops over 75
kilometers). The problem with passengers is that different companies operate the various systems and develop them separately at different times. As a result, many of the lines do not integrate well, making transferring from one system to another system inconvenient for passengers.
Moving from one system to another often requires a lot of walking, stair-climbing, escalator-using and even crossing busy roads. For example, the KL Monorail’s ‘KL Sentral’ station is a 140-meter walk away through a busy bazaar and a busy road.
There is also no common ticket for all systems, forcing commuters on continuing
journeys to buy new tickets when transferring. However, the LRT, monorail, RapidKL bus
and KTM Komuter now accept the Touch ‘n Go stored value fare card, easing the hassle
(Source: Wikipedia).

Our LRT system is new (about 10 years old), so there is nothing wrong if we were to learn from the management of train services in older and larger municipalities in the world such as London . During my stay in London recently, I found that their train services especially the underground ones (tubes) were very efficient. The London Underground which is a metro system serving a large part of Greater London is the world’s oldest underground railway system.
Services began on 10 January 1863 on the Metropolitan Railway.
The Underground has 268 stations and approximately 400 kilometers of track, making it the longest underground railway in the world by route length, and one of the most served in terms of stations.
In 2007, over one billion passenger journeys were,recorded.
Even though I stayed only a few days in London, I found it easy and very convenient to use the tube. A common ticket could be used on different lines and if this system could be introduced in KL, I believe it could boost our public transport system’s image.


peghelihla said...

Hi Che Roslan... Tahniah dah jadi blogger.... Lepas ni kena panggil Roslan Al-Balagi (blogger)...


Hasbullah Pit said...

Terima kasih kerana sudi berceramah di Seminar Bloggers Melaka