THE future of Petaling Jaya’s free city bus service has been thrown into doubt as no agreement has been inked.
All this while, the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Rapid Bus, a division of transport conglomerate Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, had been working together on the basis of a verbal agreement.
“MBPJ has not signed a contract. We only have a verbal agreement and this puts us in limbo. A deal of this nature needs to be inked before we can go ahead. Various aspects such as insurance coverage must be in black-and-white,” a source said.
The source added that discussions were being carried out but the leasing fees for the 10 buses were the sticking point.
In the initial negotiations, the fee for each bus was set at RM1,300 from 6am to 9pm daily.
StarMetro has been told that MBPJ, however, had agreed to RM950 per bus daily with a driver from 6am to 9pm.
It will cost MBPJ RM2.5mil annually as it plans to operate on weekdays only.
Mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad had said that the actual cost of running the service would be about RM3mil.
MBPJ has allocated RM1mil for the project under Budget 2014. Based on discussions, the buses will not operate on weekends as the council aims to cut costs.
The council will also install advertising panels on the bus to bring in revenue.
With 10 vehicles for the inaugural free service, Alinah envisioned a five-minute frequency during peak hours and 10 minutes during off-peak hours.
Peak hours are from 6am to 9am and from 4.30pm onwards, although this may change based on traffic conditions and feedback.
The buses are equipped with WiFi connectivity and fitted with LED monitors for onboard entertainment. The buses are designed to be disabled-friendly with wheelchair ramps and priority seating for the disabled.
“MBPJ wants to encourage PJ residents to use public transport, with the aim of freeing parking spaces in PJ New Town and surrounding areas as well as reducing the number of bays needed,” said Alinah.
If the new bus service begins, it will be similar to the GoKL free bus service in Kuala Lumpur.
The GoKL service is being subsidised by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).
SS2B Rukun Tetangga chairman Edward Sta Maria said the move was a good idea but the council must inform all Petaling Jaya residents on the routes and the frequency of the buses.
“We are supportive of this project as long it is being planned for the long term.
“It must not be a flash in the pan. It was supposed to have begun in April but now has been postponed to May.
“We hope MBPJ will be decisive in its plan with Rapid Bus,” he said.
Former All Petaling Jaya Selangor Residents Association Coalition (Apac) advisor Mohamed Umar Peer Mohamed agreed that it was a good idea as it would alleviate congestion around the commercial hubs.
“MBPJ must call all residents’ associations to update the people on the progress of the free bus service.
“We are being kept in the dark over the discussions with Rapid Bus and most of us are eager to have this service as soon as possible due to the current economic situation,” he said.
Section 10 Residents’ Association chairman Ronald Danker, meanhwile, said the free bus service must materialise as it would help facilitate transport for senior citizens and school children.