Midis, not mini buses, to ply crowded Klang Valley streets

Small, medium, large: The midi (left) is the latest addition to Rapid Bus’ fleet that consists of the 10m full-sized bus and the 12m double decker (right). A short bus can negotiate tight corners, allowing it to reach many underserved areas.

PETALING JAYA: The haphazard nature of the Klang Valley’s built-up landscape poses a huge challenge for operators of “normal” buses such as Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Prasarana Malaysia Bhd.

Conventional buses such as the 12m-long double decker bus or even the 10m-long buses typically used as MRT feeder buses still have difficulty negotiating tight corners in housing and commercial areas, which are often compounded by inconsiderate parking.

To address this, Rapid Bus is introducing the midi bus for Route T300 for a three-month trial beginning this Sunday.

Keen to address misconceptions that this was a resurrection of the tiny (pink) buses that used to ply the Klang Valley decades ago, Rapid Bus said the midi it was using would be an 8m-long fully air-conditioned 27-seater.

Any bus of less than 10m is considered a minibus with buses shorter than 8m called a micro bus (the pink ones). A midi fills the gap between a normal and micro bus.

“Some routes have narrow roads or low demand or the distance is too short so we need to adjust and modify the kind of vehicles that we use to serve our users effectively, ” said Rapid Bus CEO Muhammad Yazurin Sallij yesterday.

Similar to all buses under the Rapid KL banner, the buses for Route T300 will use a cashless system, accepting only Touch’n’Go travel cards, as well as the My100 and My50 concession cards. Route T300 runs from the Bukit Indah hub to Ampang Point via Jalan Rasmi.

“We believe with shorter buses, we can increase the frequency and serve our guests better as it will have a faster turnaround time, ” said Muhammad Yazurin, who also pointed out that space constraints faced by normal-sized buses resulted in longer bus trips and delays.

“We felt that we needed a smaller bus because we believe we are not covering enough areas to solve the first-and-last mile problem for commuters.

“We are looking at opportunities to reach more areas, especially in residential neighbourhoods that are impossible for normal buses to enter as the roads in these areas have cars parked on both sides of the road, ” he said.

Rapid Bus’ announcement on Wednesday generated a lot of excitement on social media, with many imagining the return to the old mini-bus days that ended in July 1995, after nearly three decades of service.

Muhammad Yazurin said the objective of the trial was to determine the viability of using a smaller vehicle in terms of suitability, carrying capacity and cost.

“With the data that we collect, we want to do proper planning to see if we can reach more (hard-to-access) areas, ” said Muhammad Yazurin, who added that he welcomed feedback from the public.

“It does not matter if the feedback is good or bad. At least we would know, and it will be taken into consideration in our planning, ” he said, adding that the trial would involve three midis.

During the trial, they will run on a frequency of 15 minutes during peak hours, and 25 minutes during non-peak hours, with service hours being 5.30am to 11.40pm.

The public can channel feedback on this to 03-7885 2585 or suggest@rapidkl.com.my.

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