RESIDENTS in Rawang were left in the lurch after a mini-bus service to seven neighbourhoods abruptly ceased operations on April 15,
It is learnt that the SJ Mini Bus operator’s permit had expired on that date and they had applied to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for it to be renewed.
About 1,000 commuters use the 15-year-old mini-bus service in Taman Garing, Desa Garing Utama, Garing Utama, Taman Garing Permai, Kampung Kuala Garing Selatan, Taman Sri Rawang and Taman Garing Jaya.
Residents at these housing estates now have to walk 2km to 4km to the main road, Jalan Rawang-Batu Arang to catch a bus.
Mariayee Eilan, 61, from Kampung Kuala Garing Selatan can no longer go to Hospital Selayang and the Rawang town market.
“I commute five days a week to do my chores.
“I need to get my medication monthly as I am diabetic and have high-blood pressure. I have even stopped buying groceries from the market.
“A taxi would cost RM10 one way from my home to Rawang town but I cannot afford to pay the fare,” said Mariayee, who has been living there for 20 years.
Shanmugam M, Rasiah, 45, from Taman Garing Utama said he had to take a week’s leave to ferry his five schoolgoing children to tuition and school.
“This has disrupted my work and affected my income as I am a contractor.
“I hope the authorities will expedite the approval process so that the bus service can resume as soon as possible.
“The bus operator should have informed residents in advance if they could no longer continue offering the service,’’ he said.
Reason for delay
Meanwhile, SJ Mini Bus operator Setara Jaya Sdn Bhd said the service was expected to resume next week.
Operations manager H.S Nik said the delay in the resumption of the service was because their buses were currently being inspected by Puspakom.
“Our buses are 15 years old so the tests to determine whether they are roadworthy will take some time.
He said that the daily takings from the service was only RM200 while the overhead was RM400, causing the company to lose money.
“To make matters worse, there are competitors in these areas that do not stop at designated bus terminals and use the same route.
“We recently had a meeting with SPAD and it was agreed that our competitors will be given different routes.
“If our competitors were not here, there should be no problem in making a profit on these routes.
“We will continue with the service as it is for the community,’’ he said during a meeting with residents on April 22.
Also present at the meeting were Selayang MCA secretary Ryan Ng, Selayang MCA organising secretary Felix Wan and Selayang MIC acting deputy chairman M.B Raja.
“We wanted the bus operator to meet residents and gain feedback as well as clarify their situation,” said Ng.
Selayang MCA Youth chief Chan Wun Hoong said most of the people living in the area were low-income earners.
“The bus company should find other ways to make money such as having companies to place advertisements on the buses.
“There are many companies in Rawang willing to advertise,” he said.
Residents also took the opportunity to complain about the drivers’ attitude, fare collection and the bus route.
“We will place a notice on each bus displaying a hotline number they can call for any complaints.
“Many commuters claim the buses are usually packed but the collection is low and we can barely make a profit on these routes.
“We found out that bus drivers refuse to issue tickets, charge extra and pocket the fare,” said Nik.
He said that the usual bus fare for students from Garing Utama to Rawang town is 50sen and RM1.30 for adults.
“Residents complained that students were being charged RM1 for the bus fare,’’ he added.
Selayang MP William Leong and Rawang assemblyman Gan Pei Nei also met with residents in Desa Garing Utama on the matter.
Gan said she had written to SPAD on April 17 requesting that it speed up the renewal process.
“Commuters need their regular bus service,” she said.
Leong said the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) was also planning to provide a free bus service to residents in Rawang, Selayang and Kundang but there was no update as to when this would happen.