GEORGE TOWN: The number of Penang bus commuters has slumped by five million during a four-year period, which has been blamed on inconsistent travel times and overcrowding.
A recent report by the Penang Institute showed that the bus is not regarded as a favourable mode of transport due to inconsistent schedules and overcrowding on weekends and holidays.
Commuters also complain of general inaccessibility due to unsheltered bus stops, lack of bus stop signs and limited access for the disabled.
The institute said that from 25 million commuters annually in mid-2011, the number dropped steadily to 20 million last year.
In a survey of 250,000 commuting trips made during morning rush hour from 7am to 9am, only 11% of the trips were made using Rapid Penang, factory or school buses, compared to a whopping 89% who used cars and motorcycles in 2013.
“The decline in the usage of Rapid Penang buses conflicts with efforts to increase routes and bus availability.
“This is despite efforts by many parties, including the state and federal governments, to encourage bus commuting,” stated the report, which was published on the institute’s website.
“Our over-reliance on private transport must be stemmed. Our roads will not be able to sustain population growth without viable alternatives to public transport,” the institute said.
The report quoted figures furnished by Rapid Penang. The most heavily used route is 101 – from the island’s jetty to Teluk Bahang, accounting for 11.78% of all bus commuters here.
The least travelled route in the 10th position was 702 – from Butterworth to BM Plaza in Bukit Mertajam.
This route is used by 3.46% of Penang’s bus commuters.
Three routes plying the densely populated areas of Air Itam and Paya Terubong rank from sixth to eighth.
Founded in 1997, Penang Institute is the public policy think tank of the state government. It is entrusted with the task of researching and analysing public policies.