I USE public transport regularly. I have seen the volume of commuters grow. Look at this photo I took on March 21 at the Masjid Jamek LRT station in Kuala Lumpur during the morning rush hour. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a huge crowd waiting to board the train.
“Wow,” I said to myself, wearing the “transport economist” hat. The government’s efforts to encourage greater use of public transport seem to be working. This encouraging scenario is every transport economist’s dream!
I then hopped into the MRT station in Pasar Seni, KL, and again the train was full (considering the bigger capacity of the MRT trains, it was not as jam-packed as the LRT). It is heartening to note that ridership on the MRT is also picking up steadily. This augurs well for KL city’s public transport system.
The Transport Ministry in general and RapidKL in particular should be commended on its resolve to make public transport more attractive and affordable with incentives such as the RM100 per month unlimited travel pass early this year and the 50% discount for students and senior citizens.
In other words, the programme to persuade more people to switch to using public transport is indeed on track. There is no doubt higher car-use costs (such as higher fuel and parking rates) will further accelerate this switch.
Aside from financial considerations, there are environmental, safety and health reasons for the public to make the switch to public transport. Environmentally, the reduction in the number of private vehicles (especially single-occupancy ones) will reduce the quantum of air pollution and thereby help lower KL’s per capita carbon footprint, making the city more liveable.
Taking the LRT, MRT, bus or train is much safer than driving a car; commuters also avoid the stress that comes from daily driving in the city. Health benefits also accrue to the commuters – we have to walk to and from transit stations.
Still, much remains to be done to increase ridership on the MRT, especially during non-peak hours. The public transport system has to not only be efficient but also reliable with minimal disruptions to the service.
The current poor feeder-bus service, regrettably, is not in sync with the overall efficient operation of the MRT. Hence, many in KL townships such as Taman Tun Dr Ismail, where I live, are reluctant to make the switch to using the MRT.
Hence, concerted attention should be given to improving the “last mile” service to and from the train stations in terms of the operational efficiency of the feeder bus service (especially its frequency and reliability).
DR POLA SINGH
Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Malaysia
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