THE government plans to reduce travel time within Kuala Lumpur to less than an hour when the restructuring of the public transport system in the Klang Valley is fully implemented by May 2005, special adviser to the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said.
The shorter travel time means that commuters will not be spending time waiting for public transport and that will eventually encourage more people to pick public transportation as their number one choice of transport.
Nor, who is the chairman of the steering committee on Kuala Lumpur Public Transportation System, said the government was concerned about the poor standard of public transportation systems in Klang Valley, which could break down completely if it was not resolved soon.
The current system was considered to be at level “E”, which allowed no room for error or contingencies and the government wanted to improve the system to at least to level “C”, which allowed 15% slack for contingencies, he said.
The poor conditions had already deterred most people from using public transport, judging by the decline in the number of commuters from 34% of the total KL population in 1985 to 16% presently.
“If we could help people go to work early, the restructuring will be a success because we can reduce the total of man-hours spent waiting for buses and improve the city's productivity,” Nor told StarBiz, adding that with a better public transport system, the government would gain enormous goodwill from the public.
Elaborating on the Restructuring of Kuala Lumpur Public Transportation System plan, Nor said commuters who travel within the city would feel the immediate impact of the changes, which would be implemented in the next 18 months.
One of the main changes include increasing the number of feeder buses to increase the frequency of service to every 10 to 15 minutes from the present 30 minutes. At the same time, amenities between connecting stations will also be upgraded to cut the connection time from one station to another.
“We are also planning to build travelators to shorten travelling time as well as constructing covered walkways for commuters' convenience,” Nor said, adding that the plan also took into consideration the country's hot climate and commuter aversion to walking under the hot sun.
Other time-saving improvements include the implementation of a single ticketing system which eliminates the need to queue up at every station. “Infrastructure such as MyKad is already in place and the system will be used more extensively in the future,” he said.
For commuters who prefer to drive to stations, the government would build more parking bays and have the fees incorporated into the ticketing system, said Nor.
And because of the new developments, KL City Hall is expected to freeze issuing new licences for operating parking areas except those related to the proposed public transportation system.
“The government will derive revenues from parking fees and the money will be ploughed back into the transportation system to subsidise the operations,” he said.
Nor said the revenue from parking fees was an important element of the restructuring plan as it would make it no longer necessary for operators to seek additional funding from the government other than RM14bil already spent on the main infrastructure.
Other important aspects of the plan are to keep the fare as low as possible.
“We are also planning to get revenue from other sources such as developing some of the land in the vicinity of the stations to promote economic activities,” Nor said, adding that the additional revenue would help offset any cost increases that could lead to an increase in fares.
According to Nor, the restructuring was the culmination of research by at least 11 government departments and ministries which had conducted their own studies on the public transportation system.