AS families find ways to save more and maximise their household budgets, using Petaling Jaya’s Free City Bus (FCB) is a quick and simple solution to cut commuting costs.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association president Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason said, a person using the free bus to travel to work instead of driving could achieve an average annual savings of RM6,000.
Calculations, he said, were made based on petrol price and the average parking rate.
“With the escalating cost of living, using free public transportation is an excellent way to stretch the household budget. Savings from using free public transportation allows a person to have extra cash in the pocket,” he said.
Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad said the free bus service was one of the components that would help to close the income inequality gap, at the same time increase movement of people and enable social interaction.
“During tough economic times, people programmes such as PJ’s FCB benefits people as it allows senior citizens to go to the market, get to hospital appointments and maintain social engagements without thinking about the cost of travel,” she said after the launch of the FCB at the Jalan Yong Shook Lin bus stop recently.
The FCB service is a collaboration with RapidBus, a division of transport conglomerate Prasarana.
Free travel would encourage people to jump on the bus without worries, just to see what was going on in a shopping complex or go to the public park, added Alinah.
“Half of PJ’s population are senior citizens and getting on the bus will allow them to feel the pulse of the city instead of being cooped up in the apartment or house. We are moving towards a sustainable city where public transport is the choice,” she said.
Alinah added that “free public transport was a small price to pay” as it benefitted the masses.
“Buses facilitate sustainable transport with a low environmental impact, reducing the overall carbon footprint and noise pollution. Compared to a car, a bus emits 162g less of carbon dioxide for the same route. A bus, in fact, can replace 30 cars,” she said.
Alinah said the bus drivers must stick to the agreed schedule to ensure the number of runs and arrival at the stops are on time with a 15-minute frequency.
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, 16 and 17. Other areas covered include the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and PJ Old Town.
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 school children and working adults can benefit from it,” she said.
With 10 vehicles for this inaugural free service, Alinah envisioned 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 conditions and feedback.
Alinah added that Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) enforcement director Mohd Fauzi Maarop and the technical departments would monitor the progress and efficiency of the free bus service.