The opening line in this travel and leisure website on Malaysia here claimed:
"In Malaysia, public transport is very developed and quite practical, and will save you the trouble of dealing with driving".However, the urban reality to those living in the Greater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley (Greater KL) is that it is far from the truth.
With Vision 2020 to be a developed nation a mere 4 years away, the land public transportation (LPT) for Greater KL is far from that a developed nation.
In places like the interior of Sarawak, even the basic rudimentary transportation need is yet fulfilled. If KL is still not in place, what can one expect for the rest of the country.
Public transport was not taken up seriously in the past thus the carpet had swell into a hill by the time Dato Najib could address the problem.
Maybe it is personal interest in play or resistance to change. And even be the underlying unstated reason behind the current political war cry to remove Najib.
1MDB could just be an excuse.
On the matter of public transportation, there is not much room left for compromise and accommodation. SPAD Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Albar was quoted by Malaysian Digest last year:
"No country has ever climbed from low-income to middle- or high-income status without a significant and dynamic land public transport. Therefore, it is important for us now to give priority to public transport investment, rather than giving priority to building roads in the name of connectivity and relieving congestion."Shambles
It is not just this blog that raised questions on the "economic development model based on subsidised petrol, tolled highway and Proton car ownership" but a public transport NGO recently expressed the same.
Mahathir blamed for transport messA point raised by a commentator in the previous posting here is the long term economic wastage and burden on public and nation to subsidised petrol, tolled highway and priority for the local car.
Robin Augustin | August 26, 2016
A consumer group says the ex-PM made a mistake in focusing on private instead of public transport.
PETALING JAYA: Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s decision to focus on private instead of public transport is coming back to haunt Malaysians, says the Public Transport Users Association (4PAM).
Speaking to FMT on the state of public transport in the country, 4PAM President Ajit Johl recalled that the government started to focus on private transport 33 years ago with the inception of Proton and the construction of tolled highways.
Five years later, Singapore began ramping up its public transport network with its Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.
“Look where we are now and the mess we have created,” Ajit said. “Our traffic jams are so bad that many are dependent on tolled roads. And our cars are so expensive.
“But look at Singapore. We cannot help but feel envious of its public transport system.”
Ajit noted that Singapore’s MRT system, besides covering a wide area, also has good supporting systems, such as proper feeder bus and train services, accessibility of stations, cashless payment methods and shaded, well-lit and safe walkways.
He pointed out that neighbourhood malls are incorporated in a number of MRT stations, ensuring that people generally don’t have to travel far to shop or watch a movie.
In comparison, he said, Malaysia’s public transport system was largely still in a shambles.
However, he noted recent improvements, such as the entry into the system of ride-sharing services and the expansion and upgrades of LRT and KTM services.
He said there was still a lot of room for improvement, especially in regulations, for which the Land Public Transport Commission is responsible.
Ajit voiced hope that the government would continue improving public transport and keep it affordable so that people would be encouraged to use it.
The government’s target in its planning is to have 40 per cent of commuters using public transport by 2030.
The "shamble" in the LPT was covered in an early April 2015 article by Malaysia Digest here.
High up in the pecking order of problems was the traffic jam that arise from the private transportation policy of the past and the obsession to keep Proton afloat. Building more highway will not solve the congestion.
Though there is a need to improve public use of LPT from 40% to 60%, the long travel time remained a discouraging factor.
Rapid KL has expanded its network of service but it is also beseiged with perenial problems of long wait, poor schedule, infrequent service and insufficient number of drivers.
The only viable option left for commuters is taxi but it cost 500% more than other LPT mode, fare keeps increasing, drivers' attitude, and poor enforcement.
Greater KL need a transportation system at par as other major cities with an interlocking network and mode of transport able to 'anyplace to-anyplace' movement.
Off course public attitude is another issue.
Despite the financial saving, health benefit and in many situations, the convenience of taking public transport, Malaysian basically do not like to walk.
In an article to analyse the public reaction to increase parking fees in the city, Malay Mail Online July article wrote:
Expats who live here have pointed out numerous times in travel blogs or forums that Malaysians don't like to walk. An expat can walk for about three kilometres from Jalan Ampang to KLCC to do grocery shopping. That idea would be preposterous to a Malaysian.That culture need to be transformed.
Undoubtedly, there had been effort during Mahathir's administration towards public transportation in Greater KL but it was insufficient.
There was the consolidation of bus services into Intra Kota. However, that came with significant fare hike from 50 sen to RM1 with limited efficiency and network. Consequently government had to takeover Intrakota from DRB and restructure under Prasana into RapidKL.
The construction of Putra LRT, Star, Monorail, KTM Kommuter, and Sentral station begin during his time. It was criticised then as construction project for "friends"
Financing of public transportation had always been cited [read study here] then for the constraint of developing LPT. In other word, the administration was less than willing to spend for public transport.
Intrakota takeover is indicative of failure of corporations in operating LPT.
YTL investment in ERL highlighted private sector's profit oriented approach will be only increase cost to commuters. The less than comprehensive privatisation model in developing LPT came at a higher cost to consumer and was not well integrated.
It operated separately and the increase property value does not translate to a superb system at more affordable fare found in many major cities around the world. Unlike other developed countries, it was not funneled back to lower commuters transport cost.
Private transportation was still the emphasis to protect Proton. More was spent for construction of toll highways. It came with increasing use of energy reserve.
It was only under Najib that there is more political will to address public transportation issue. The current Greater KL Transportation Masterplan was established by Pemandu and released in 2015.
There is also the 20 year National Land Public Transport Master Plan (NLTMP) and Regional Land Public Transport Master Plan (Regional LPTMP put together to address the land public transportaton system for Malaysia.
Complain on the inefficient feeder system, scavenging taxi drivers, financial commitment made to private vehicle ownership, and electricity supply (as the recent trip at Putra-LRT highlighted) remain. Cynics will still view construction of LPT infrastructure not so much serve to help rakyat but cronies.
Nevertheless, everything is almost about to be tied up together. It is a matter of time to deliver as promised.