CATCHING a bus from the Section 17 bus terminal in Shah Alam can be a hassle, but the situation is set to change in a year’s time.
At present, there are more than 20 ticket counters placed around the parking lot and customers have to walk around to find the best deal under the scorching sun.
These vendors do not chase customers away but allow them to browse and check out routes and prices while standing under a roof near their stalls.
“This is what we do every day, rain or shine, we have to sit here and assist customers,” said Mohd Ashwad Mansor, who has been selling tickets for a year at the terminal.
The 21-year-old said he often felt sorry for his customers, especially during rainy days as they had to find a place to take shelter and make sure they did not miss the bus.
The terminal has no designated waiting area, hence customers are scattered everywhere to find a place to sit or stay out of the sun or rain.
During StarMetro’s recent visit, those waiting for buses were seen resting under two bus stands while a few were spotted under a makeshift tent with raffia strings circling it, perhaps to prevent non-ticket holders from using the seats.
Ashwad, who sold tickets for the northern routes, said there were days when his customers boarded the wrong bus because there was no system in place.
“We cannot blame the passengers; it is not easy even for us to find our buses when they arrive from Klang, how would passengers know which bus to board,” he said, adding there was also no customer service counter for the terminal.
Several companies had resorted to installing loudspeakers on the roofs of their stalls to announce when their buses arrived.
Ashwad said he would walk around the terminal to inform his customers 20 minutes prior to departure and on busy days, he would call every passenger on their cellphones.
“If I do not go around looking for them, these passengers may not take our bus the next time,” he said.
Passengers like Siti Hajarulaswat Hasnan says the terminal needs to be more organised with better lighting, restaurants and more seating areas.
The 22-year-old Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) student, who was four hours early for her bus to Pasir Putih, Kelantan, did not mind being ahead of time to avoid missing her transport home for Hari Raya.
In addition, motorists coming to the terminal to pick up passengers have no space to park their cars and usually have to squeeze in between the many waiting buses.
Another vendor, Salmiah Rahim, said she was used to the situation at the terminal as she had been selling tickets there for two years.
“It is hot and dirty but we have no choice,” she said, adding that in the evenings, the situation could be worse.
However, they may not need to put up with it for much longer. Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) has announced a modern intercity bus terminal would be built at an estimated to cost of RM7mil.
The current 25-year-old terminal will be temporarily relocated to the Shah Alam Stadium in Section 13 to facilitate the construction of the new bus complex.
Most of the ticket vendors have agreed with the council to relocate temporarily.
“We were told to move on Aug 8, but if the temporary tents at the stadium are not ready, then we will have to wait again for a later date,” said Salmiah.
Students Nor Hanisah Hamzah and Norsarina Mansor lauded the decision to upgrade the terminal.
“It is weird to see such a disorganised bus terminal in a big city like Shah Alam,” said Hanisah, who also agreed that seats were too few for waiting passengers.
Norsarina said the toilets and prayer rooms were small and dirty.
“We dread coming here to take the bus but it is near our university so it is the most convenient for us,” she added.
MBSA building department director Rose Zairani Marmuji said the new bus terminal project was part of the National Key Result Area (NKRA) programme under the urban public transportation division.
The new complex will have eight designated lay-by spots for buses, air-conditioned waiting rooms, ample parking and waiting area for taxis.
There will also be proper ticket counters to accommodate 24 companies.
Passengers will be able to get a quick bite at the food stalls planned for the terminal.
Rose said the intercity bus terminal was scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.