Women-only coach on MRT a big hit


Loke (fourth from left) and Noraini (in blue) giving the thumbs up at the launch of the women-only coach for the Kajang MRT Line at the Bandar Tun Hussein Onn station in Cheras. — LOW BOON TAT/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Nurfatiha Mohamed was always anxious when she rode the MRT, especially during peak hours when passengers would be standing shoulder to shoulder.

“There were so many stories of women being harassed in public transport that I felt uneasy and worried when I boarded the train,” said the 21-year-old who is pursuing a degree in education in Kajang, Selangor.

The women-only coach, introduced on the Kajang MRT line in September, was a relief to her and other female passengers.

“When they started the women-only coach, I felt immediately at ease and safer when riding the MRT. And I take it all the time, even during peak hours when I have to stand,” said Nurfatiha.

Rapid KL’s women-only coach has become a permanent fixture on the Kajang MRT line after a successful three-month trial which began in mid-September.

The Transport Ministry and Rapid KL, the rail operator, are looking into expanding the facility to other lines after the wide support it has received and the apparent drop in sexual harassment complaints following its inception.

Even male passengers such as financial consultant Daniel Tan is all for the initiative.“If it makes the MRT safer, why not? It should be supported by everyone, especially if it helps encourage people to take public transport,” said the 45-year-old.

Each of the Kajang line’s 35 train sets will set aside part of its second and third coaches as a women-only seating area called the women-only coach.

For now, men who unknowingly stray into the coach are told by either Rapid KL staff or the passengers themselves to move to the regular coaches at either the front or back of the train.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke revealed that since the trial began in September, Rapid KL has received fewer complaints of sexual harassment from passengers.

“In the first quarter of 2023, we received eight complaints of harassment; the second quarter 11; and in the third quarter, eight complaints,” Loke told reporters after an event to announce that the facility will now be a permanent feature.

“From the time we implemented the women-only coach to November, the complaints had dropped to three so far. This was even while ridership increased,” he added.

Also present was Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad, who thanked the ministry and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd for making the feature a reality.

According to ridership data from MyRapid, there were a total of 5.714 million passengers on the Kajang line in September, the operator’s second busiest line.

The number of passengers rose to 6.137 million in October, before dipping marginally to 6.133 million in November.

Officials from Prasarana, which owns Rapid Rail and Rapid Bus (collectively branded in the Klang Valley as Rapid KL), said the women-only coach was among the factors that led to the rise in ridership on the Kajang line.

Loke said the ministry and Prasarana were in discussion on whether to expand the women-coach facility to Rapid KL’s other lines – Ampang, Kelana Jaya, Putrajaya and the KL Monorail.“Of the total ridership on all Rapid KL lines, 62% of them are women or six out of every 10.

“As responsible men, we should also support this initiative. We want our mothers, sisters and wives to be safe,” he added.

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women-only coach , mrt , kajang line , anthony loke

   

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