IF EVERYTHING goes as planned, Petaling Jaya residents will be able to use a free bus service by the middle of this year.
The 28.2km route will start from the bus terminal in Jalan PJS 3/11 and will serve the Kampung Dato Harun KTM station, Asia Jaya LRT and Sections 14 and 16. Other areas covered include the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and PJ Old Town.
Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad said RM1mil had been allocated for the project under Budget 2014.
“However, the actual cost of running this service is about RM3mil. One avenue to raise funds for this project is through supplementary budget requests.
“We are exploring other means of raising funds from stakeholders along the bus route,” said Alinah.
She said the aim was to show the feasibility of using public transport to get around Petaling Jaya, especially during peak hours in the morning and evening.
“The operational hours will be from 6am to 9pm daily so that both schoolchildren and working adults can benefit from this,” the mayor said.
With 10 vehicles for this inaugural free service, Alinah envisions a five-minute frequency during peak hours and 10 minutes at off-peak.
Peak hours are from 6am to 9am and from 4.30pm onwards, although this may change based on traffic condition and feedback.
Incentives are being worked out to encourage Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) employees to take public transport.
“This will free up parking spaces in PJ New Town and surrounding areas as well as reduce the number of bays needed,” said Alinah.
The bus service is intended to be free for Petaling Jaya residents, and Alinah said one way to ensure this would be through the issuance of free bus ride cards after checking ratepayers’ assessment or licence fee records.
Students in a Petaling Jaya-based school or institution will also be entitled to travel for free.
Currently, there is a free community bus service, with two vehicles that cater for senior citizens and low-income earners, running from 9.30am to 2pm.
Alinah said the service, which is a collaboration with RapidBus, a division of transport conglomerate Prasarana, would be run separately.
“The new service is similar to the GoKL free bus service in Kuala Lumpur,” she added.
The GoKL service is being subsidised by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).
Alinah said she would be writing to Prasarana to provide details on the proposed bus service.
“Prasarana will then apply to SPAD for a permit for the bus service,” said Alinah.
In terms of number of passengers, the mayor hopes to achieve 20% capacity.
“We can call it a good start if 20% of the seats in each bus are filled,” she said.
Some residents approached by StarMetro said they might give the bus a try.
“I used to stay in Old Town and it would have been useful. It should benefit students and those working in the city centre,” said Low Kian Sing, who was in Menara MBPJ to pay bills.
Section 10 Residents Association chairman Ronald Danker hopes people will take advantage of the new bus service and hence reduce the number of cars on the road.
“Section 10 senior citizens will find it useful to get to the Asia Jaya LRT station,” said Danker.
PJS 2 Taman Dato Harun Residents Association chairman Shamsury Joha also hopes the new buses will reduce the number of cars on the road.
“During the morning rush hour, there are a lot of single-occupant vehicles,” he noted.
Seksyen 1B Rukun Tetangga chairman Kok Kuan Yong was concerned about how genuine Petaling Jaya residents would be identified for eligibility.
“Many people come to Petaling Jaya for work or run errands.
“Even if you use assessment records, how are you going to identify the children of houseowners?” asked Kok.
It would be better, he said, if the service was free for everyone.