Judging by the number of people standing by the side of Puduraya now, hoping rather than waiting for their buses – since they bought their ticket off a guy who looks like he just robbed a liquor store – you can sense their apprehension.
But the apprehension is for every Malaysian who has to rely on public transportation – cross state or across your taman.
While in Brisbane – bumming – my mate passed me the city’s travel schedule. Imagine that! All the transportation available, trains, buses and boats were listed, with connectivity and timing listed. And it follows.
This is a familiar story, on how we don’t get the public transportation we deserve. I’ll look at the Klang Valley but the issues are similar and pressing in other cities, towns and villages in Malaysia. And yes, my apologies to all Borneo peeps for suffering for our indifference.
It is hard to argue about a lack of effort, which is the government’s defence whenever they are attacked.
The buses in KL have been consolidated by and large. There is centralised planning. The train systems are nationalised with connectivity to buses. All routes have been charted, adjusted to needs and buses purchased. Bus lanes have been marked, and taxis have metres. Terminals have been erected, bus stops emblazoned with the company logo and taxi/bus stands clearly noted.
Yet why is it, given a choice not many Klang Valley residents would use the public transportation system?
It is disingenuous. There is a moral lacking in the whole undertaking. No real policy maker is driven to making it really work, consistently work and return to work when it breaks down. It is all about expediency, that it appears to work.
This whole country is an exercise in external decoration – like some amateur architect who did not make it to graduate school has made all the calls.
The insides always disappoint.
Frequency is a major concern. People give up on the system because it takes up too much time. People must have a guarantee that they have control over their time. A bus will always take more time than a car, point to point. That is not the contention. The contention is in wilting in the sun or rain, being frustrated.
All the large terminals constructed don’t mean anything if there are no buses on time at them. Nor if when they are there, they are indeterminate in departing and arriving – and with no quick remedy when things go awry. And taxis need a working model. A cab must cost substantially more than a bus ride – but so must they be reliable, comfortable and service oriented.
So what if the packed like sardines LRT reaches after much cringing to your station in the allotted time, when the remaining 3 kms to your home will require a 20 min wait – at least? It frustrates people, but these are all basic logistical problems, and the presence of infrastructure will do nothing, absolutely nothing – if they are not managed professionally with the adequate financial structure.
Part Two: The ideas, the constructs