BUTTERWORTH: Confusion reigned on the first day of the opening of the Penang Sentral transportation hub.
Many bus passengers complained that they had to take a 300m walk to reach the hub yesterday or wait by the roadside for someone to pick them up after they were dropped off at the already closed-down temporary bus terminal outside the bus complex.
The temporary bus terminal was previously used as a bus station while Penang Sentral was under construction.
An elderly woman in her 70s, who just returned from Singapore after visiting her children, had to wait under the scorching sun with her luggage for her husband to pick her up.
“I bought the bus ticket to Butterworth but when we arrived near the hub, the driver asked us to get down.
“After dropping the luggage, the bus driver just sped off.
“There is no shade and it’s so hot and dusty. My husband is on his way to pick me up,” said the woman who declined to be named.
Another passenger just returning from Johor with his family also voiced his disappointment over the bus drivers’ attitude.
“I asked the driver why are we being dropped off here and not at the new hub, and he just said ‘the bus doesn’t go in’,” said the man.
Many passengers had no choice but to take a long walk to the terminal to board the ferry.
An express bus driver said dropping off passengers by the main road outside Penang Sentral would save them time to proceed to their next destination.
“Many buses need to proceed to George Town or Alor Setar, so we can’t waste any time.
“This way we can proceed straight to our next stop,” he said.
All the confusion however benefited taxi and ride-hailing drivers as they moved in to seize opportunities outside the hub.
A Grab driver, who wished to be known only as Azam, said it was easier to pick up customers by the roadside than having to drive all the way up to Penang Sentral to wait for passengers.
“The seventh floor is for us to wait for customers while the taxi drivers get to wait on the second floor,” he said.
Meanwhile, a check at the hub found 20 lots allocated for express buses on the first level but only a few buses were present.
“The bend at the entrance is narrow for big buses, but overall, this is a proper place for passengers to wait.
“It’s more comfortable for passengers at the waiting area,” said one bus driver.
Technician Mohamad Dani Hassan, 53, who was heading to Seremban, said he was thrilled to experience the facilities at the new hub.
“I travel home to Seremban weekly, and this is my first time here.
“It is so comfortable with air-conditioning and LCD panels displaying arrival times,” he said.
Penang Sentral, which can cater between 3,000 to 4,000 passengers each day, features ticketing counters, a surau, cafes, convenience stores and restaurants.
On the second floor is a bridge that connects the hub to the Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal and a link-way to the KTM train station.
There is also an information counter, an auxiliary police beat, a food court and an open deck for visitors to take in the breathtaking view of Penang island.
The RM2.7bil project, which began in 2007, was modelled after Kuala Lumpur Sentral.
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