National masterplan for public transport

KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will draw up a public transport masterplan in six to 12 months from September to ensure the holistic development of public transport in the country.

The commission, which was set up early this month to regulate the land public transport sector, will fully take over as a regulatory body from September.

“This masterplan will take into consideration all aspects of public transport, including connectivity and accessibility, ensuring the development of a more integrated public transport system,” chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar told a media briefing yesterday.

“We want to look at it (public transport) holistically and not just on an ad hoc basis. The Government is very sensitive to the wishes of the rakyat,” he said.

Syed Hamid said SPAD was already engaging with the public on feedback to draw up the masterplan and would continue to do so from time to time. “Once the feedback is received, we will draw up the masterplan and submit to the Government.”

He added that SPAD wanted to ensure the public land transport system was de-politicised.

Although nothing was firm yet, SPAD might consider tendering out non-profitable routes not serviced by bus operators, chief operating officer Shahril Mokhtar said.

He said the lucrative routes were serviced by many bus operators while the residential areas were under served.

There are more than 16 bus operators in the Klang Valley.

Without disclosing much detail, Shahril said the Government would subsidise these under-served “social routes” but operators had to comply to a set of criteria set up by SPAD, including bus frequency, reliability and systematic delivery.

He said stricter rules would apply for those seeking new commercial vehicle licences. However, he said, it was not going to take away existing operators’ licences but might need them to comply with new rules.

Apart from that, Shahril said, SPAD was considering putting enforcement on private vehicles using the dedicated bus lanes. However, the current Road Transport Act needs to be amended to give SPAD such powers.

With all the planned effort, Syed Hamid said the commission had targeted 25% of the Klang Valley’s population to use public transport by 2012.

The Government’s target under the 10th Malaysia Plan is to improve the share of public transport from 12% in 2009 to 30% by 2015 in Greater KL.

“We had at one time a high public transport usage of up to 34%, but it has dropped badly to only 12% now.

“I agree that people are not satisfied with public transport. Public confidence is quite low to put it mildly. It is not an easy task but give us a chance,” he said, adding that the Government’s target is to achieve 25% by 2020 and 30% by 2015.

Syed Hamid said the 2015 target was not difficult to achieve with proper planning. He said SPAD was also studying public transportation of developed nations to be incorporated in the masterplan.

Chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said the commission was open to complaints, suggestions and ideas and various channels to contact SPAD, aside from the Land Public Transport Forum, would be set up soon.

“The process for the masterplan has started and it will take some time as we want to make sure the social and economic impact has been taken into account,” he said.

Mohd Nur Ismal said the commission might consider bringing back the “mini bus” which was terminated in the late 1990s to serve some areas but would study it thoroughly before making any decision.

Commenting on the importance of public feedback, he said: “It is pretentious to say that we are champions of the public if we do not listen to the rakyat.”

Syed Hamid said its immediate target as part of its masterplan was to carry out five initiatives for the National Key Result Area for urban public transport under the Government Transformation Programme.

They include improving bus journey times by having Bus Express Transit services, establishing dedicated bus right of way such as the Bus Rapid Transit system (bus lanes physically separated from other traffic), building and improving of over 1,000 bus stops in the Klang Valley, reorganising the bus network in the Klang Valley and integrated smart ticketing.

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