Penang Public Transport Users Association (PeTUA) welcomes the recent announcement by the Penang state executive councillor for infrastructure and transport that the state government would provide a RM300,000 monthly subsidy for 10,000 free My30/Pas Mutiara for all Malaysians.
The subsidy can help many public transport users in Penang during these hard times and uncertainty caused by the raging pandemic, which has infected 114 million people and taken over four million lives globally and infected 11,000 people locally in Penang. It has also wreaked havoc on our local economy, leaving many struggling, including Rapid Penang which has seen a massive drop in the number of passengers since the first movement control order in March 2020.
However, free travel passes are not complete without reliable coverage, especially for areas where commuters require another mode of transport to reach the nearest bus stop with bus service.
PeTUA renews our call to the Penang state government to embark on a new subsidy scheme for community routes that are not close to breaking even for operators like Rapid Penang. It could do this by topping up the farebox shortfalls for trips that the operator runs along designated community routes.
With this new subsidy scheme, more routes can be introduced to cover areas where it is hard for operators to sustain their service; yet, at the same time, it will provide savings to the state government when the ridership picks up instead of having to provide a free bus service.
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On an unrelated topic, commuters and our members have observed the challenges and risk of falling for less tech-savvy elderly passengers who have to comply with contact tracing requirements while riding on buses. As these passengers will write their contact details in a logbook on board the bus (instead of scanning the QR code with the MySejahtera), which requires a fair amount of time, it poses a risk of falling for them as the bus starts to move before they can finish writing their details.
After consultation with our members and passengers, we believe there can be an easy solution by providing pre-inked stamps with the names and contact details of these elderly commuters who are likely to be beneficiaries of the state government’s initiative to provide free My30/Pas Mutiara season tickets.
PeTUA urge all elected state assembly members and MPs in Penang to offer free pre-inked name stamps for their elderly constituents that hold My30/Pas Mutiara season tickets or any of the Rapid Penang monthly passes. They can also use these name stamps when patronising local businesses, thus minimising contact with any surface.
PeTUA look forward to positive action from the state government and elected representatives and, of course, to a huge take-up rate from the public.