The government is urging people to use public transport but regular commuters have a lot of complaints about the bus service in the Klang Valley.
They are especially frustrated about overcrowded buses with the number of trips insufficient to meet demand.
The problem is especially acute during peak hours, namely 7am to 8.30an and 5.30pm to 7pm. Some of the busier routes identified are Kota Damansara-Pasar Seni, Pasar Seni-Klang, Ampang Point-Pandan Indah LRT Station, Taman Melawati-Sri Rampai LRT Station, Shah Alam town-Seksyen 2-11 and Kajang- Bangi.
Marketing executive Wong Chia Hui, who is a frequent commuter, said not only is the ride uncomfortable, it is unsafe too.
“The buses are always over-crowded during peak hours when people are rushing to work.
“There is often standing room only and the ride is often a bumpy one,” she said, adding that bus drivers should not allow more than the permitted number of passengers into the bus.
Overcrowded buses are challenging for senior citizens and pregnant women.
“There are not that many Good Samaritans offering them seats
“Many of them are forced to stand and they can easily lose their balance,” she said.
Overcrowding a norm
Checks by StarMetro revealed passengers tend to squeeze into an already overcrowded bus instead of waiting for the next one.
Some buses ferry more than 70 passengers in a single trip.
Passengers could be seen standing on the steps of the bus while some sat at the dashboard because of lack of space.
Another commuter who only wanted to be known as Fong, said some bus drivers are endangering the lives of passengers by not closing the door.
“Bus drivers constantly need to ask passengers to move in and make space so the doors can be closed.
“But sometimes this is not possible, making it very dangerous as commuters can easily fall off the bus,’’ she said.
It was reported that a bus conductor was killed after he lost his balance and fell off an overcrowded bus in February.
Passengers are forced to squeeze in and stand so close that their bodies are literally touching.
“It is very uncomfortable and the danger of being pick-pocketed is greater too,” said Fong.
Another complaint is that drivers will wait for a long time at certain bus stops for passengers.
“Bus drivers should stick to the schedule and not wait for passengers as it is not fair to those on the bus.
“Bus journeys are already time consuming as we are caught in traffic jams too,” she added.
Student Cathy Koh, who frequently commutes from Bangi to Kajang, also expressed dissatisfaction with bus services.
“Bus companies should look into upgrading their facilities and increase their frequency given the huge demand for public transport,” she said.
Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd CEO Datuk Zohari Sulaiman said the company is aware of the problems faced by commuters.
They plan to introduce high capacity buses that could accommodate more passengers to address over-crowding.
“Early next year, we plan to introduce 40 double-decker buses on routes such as Cheras and Shah Alam.
“In the meantime, we have plans to increase the number of buses deployed during peak hours.
“However, we are not able to carry out these plans effectively due to the shortage of drivers,” he said.
Rapid Bus has undertaken various initiatives such as daily walk-
in interviews, aggressive recruitment drive via advertisements and participated in various job recruitment programmes to recruit more drivers.
Zohari also urged passengers not to board overcrowded buses.
“The drivers are put in a difficult situation when passengers board already crowded buses especially during the morning peak hours.”
According to the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros), overloading has an adverse effect on vehicle performance as it will be less stable, difficult to steer and take a longer time to stop.
Overloading can cause the tyres to overheat and wear rapidly.
A Miros case study from 2007 to 2010 showed overloading was the biggest factor in bus accidents, surpassing mechanical defects risky driving, road defects and others.
Of 277 cases involving buses, 109 or 39.4% were due to overloading.
Handful of summonses
Under Section 22 (3) of the Land Public Transport Act 2010 (Act 715) a licensed operator who fails to comply with any of the conditions attached to the operator’s license is liable to a fine of not less than one RM1,000 but not more than RM500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) revealed that there are 2,472 buses operating in the Klang Valley area currently.
Last year, only 22 compound notices were issued for excessive number of passengers in Peninsular Malaysia.
“In many cases, passengers voluntarily board buses that are full due to delays and infrequent trips.
“This problem usually occurs in rural areas as the frequency of service is low unlike in urban areas.
“Operators must comply with all licensing requirements which includes safeguarding passengers’ safety and ensuring the numbers of passengers transported at any one time is not exceeded.
“They are expected to train, regulate and monitor their drivers to ensure compliance,” said a source from SPAD.
To tackle the problem, SPAD is planning to increase the frequency of bus services in both urban and rural areas via the Commuter Bus Improvement Plan to ensure an efficient and reliable bus service.
The first phase will focus on 19 pilot districts throughout peninsular Malaysia.
For enquiries or complaints, call SPAD’s hotline at 1800-88-7723 (SPAD).