ON the whole, the public transport system in the Klang Valley is much better these days. There is general agreement that the integration of the bus and train services has made the transport system much more satisfactory.
Yet, the percentage of city folks who opt for public transport is still small, representing only 16% and this is probably why there has been no improvement in the traffic jams that has long haunted motorists in the city.
So what has gone wrong?
Is it because the effectiveness of the public transport system is below the desired level? Or is it because of city folk’s individualistic mentality, wanting the buses and trains at their doorstep?
Malaysian Transport Institute (Mitrans) manager Associate Professor Sabariah Mohamad was recently reported in the media as saying that the success of the public transport system was not solely dependent on the effectiveness of the system but also on the public's perception.
She said the problem must be tackled in perspective and comprehensively. “The solution may take time and requires the support from all parties,” she said.
A private sector employee Wan Aziz Wan Sulaiman said the traffic congestion in the Klang Valley persisted because many people still insisted on driving their own vehicles to work.
Just imagine more than two million Klang Valley residents concentrating in certain locations in Kuala Lumpur during the peak hours, definitely, the traffic will be bad.
Rapid KL chief executive officer Mohd Ali Mohd Nor is of the opinion that people shun public transport because they have no confidence in the system.
“It will take time to change this deeply-rooted negative perception.
“That’s why traffic jams are unavoidable. Efforts are being taken to return the public’s confidence in the public transport system,” he said during an interview at his office in Petaling Jaya.
Rapid KL, the acronym for Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd, is the company given the responsibility by the Government to provide integrated public transport in Klang Valley, encompassing the bus and LRT services.
In September, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (SPNB), which owns the Rapid KL bus and LRT assets, will add 140 trains and another 1,000 buses to enhance the quality of public transport in the Klang Valley.
An allocation of RM1bil was proposed for the purpose for a five-year period beginning 2006.
But this gives rise to another question, whether the big number of buses on the roads will only make the traffic jams worse?
However, Mohd Ali clarified that the new buses would replace the old ones and fill in the need for 1,130 buses under Rapid KL’s new system to accommodate 250,000 passengers daily by the end of 2007.
“The public need not worry. Only 922 buses will be on the roads at any one time to accommodate 250,000 passengers daily,” he said.
Rapid KL now has 839 buses on the roads through three of its main services, local buses (transit buses connected with the train services) and town buses with 130,000 passengers or an average of 155 passengers per bus.
However, the train services encompassing the LRT (Star and Putra), KTM Komuter, ERL and Monorail have reached its maximum capacity.
The KTM Komuter and LRT trains ferry nearly half a million people daily since the rise in fuel prices in February.
On the whole, Klang Valley residents are of the opinion that the rail service that is the nexus of the public transport in the Klang Valley is effective but there is still room for improvement.
The Government's hope that 40% of Klang Valley residents will utilise public transport by 2020 is also an important criteria of a developed nation. – Bernama