Ever since I have embraced bicycle commuting to work (or going green in a way), I have the chance to sample the state of KL’s public transport infrastructure. After taking the public transport (buses, KTM Komuter and LRT) a few times the past 3 months, I am giving it the thumbs down. However, there are areas for improvement, but you might feel that it is not fair to KL, since I am always comparing it to the excellent mass transit infrastructure of Singapore.
- Public buses: Frequency and Punctuality
In order to promote drivers to give up driving, the government should enforce guidelines that ensure operators run its services punctually and at reasonable frequencies. People will not switch to public transport for travels when the public buses are not punctual and infrequent. People values their time, and they need to plan for their journey. Some times, I have to wait over 30 minutes just to catch a feeder bus to the LRT station. A feeder bus line should run every 10 minutes during peak hours and 15-20 minutes during off-peak hours. Intra-town buses should run every 15 minutes. Once, I waited 45 minutes for U27. My mother complained she waited for the same service for 2 hours at night.
- Expansion of Feeder Bus Service
Expand the feeder bus services to more surrounding areas. That way more people from the suburbs will have a choice to drive or take public transport. If 25% choose to take public transport, that’s 25% fewer cars running on the roads during rush hours.
- Park & Ride
Get rid of all the park and ride areas outside the LRT stations, or at least move them further out from the LRT stations. Then, build covered walkways from there to the LRT station. This is to free up spaces outside the LRT station, so congestion by parked or waiting private vehicles can be eliminated. Feeder buses then can arrive, wait and depart without delay. RapidKL should get involved with the local councils to enforce this arrangement by manning the entrance to the LRT station, and to prevent private vehicles from entering the no-entry zone.
- Sentul-Sri Petaling/Ampang LRT line
The alternate trains on the Ampang/Sri Petaling-Sentul line should be changed. Have all trains from Sentul go to Sri Petaling. Passengers who need to use the Ampang line shall alight at Chan Sow Lin interchange to board the Chan Sow Lin-Ampang trains. It is more efficient to have more frequent but equal rides for both Sri Petaling and Ampang destinations.
- Touch N GO
Introduce the usage of Touch N Go in all public buses. Currently, only rapidpass Touch N Go cards can be used aboard all RapidKL buses. Why bother to have the reader (machine) in the first place, when normal commuters can’t utilise the convenience of their own personal Touch N Go cards? It is so inconvenient for commuters to always have to carry the exact change for the bus fares.
- Seamless Travel
Why can’t commuters enjoy seamless travel when changing LRT lines at certain interchanges, like at Masjid Jamek, without having to exit from one physical station to enter another? Just charge the commuters accordingly. The 2 lines are run by the same company! Even if it were run by different companies, where is the difficulty in separating the revenues?
- Fuel Subsidies and Taxes
I know this suggestion is quite controversial, but please stop subsidies of petrol to all private vehicles. Instead, introduce fuel tax to discourage drivers from driving their cars. Only those who can afford increased price of petrol will continue to drive. All fuel taxes collected and fuel subsidies saved can be used to improve the road and public transport infrastructure. You can even abolish the highway tolls with the increased revenues, and still not introduce congestion charges.
- City Centre Parking
DBKL should also reduced the public parking facilities in city centre and increase the rates of public parking at the same time. DBKL shall also increase enforcement on towing away illegally parked vehicles and issuing summons to waiting vehicles.
- Dedicated Bus Lanes
What about dedicated bus lanes? Although introduced so many years ago, there is a lack of enforcement by relevant authorities. What about those illegally parked vehicles at major city roads, like at Jalan Pudu, Jalan Ipoh, Old Klang Road, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Jalan Sentul, Jalan Raja Laut, etc? These intolerant vehicle owners are contributing to the widespread of traffic congestions and blocking the dedicated bus lanes.
One cannot solve major traffic congestion problem by building wider roads, more ring roads, longer elevated highways and higher flyovers. These measures will only “drive” more (sub)/urbanites to buy more vehicles and drive more to wherever they are going. The side effects are more wasted time in traffic, lost productivity, more pollution and unsustainable city. Get people to take public transport or cycle to work.
There is also no point in copying a good transit system from another metropolitans but do not do proper implementation and enforcement. You can copy Curitiba, Singapore, Seoul, London, New York. But if you do not implement correctly and enforce religiously, it is bound to fail no matter how good the system is.