Malaysia needs to build new transport infrastructure and maintain and improve existing infrastructure so that it functions efficiently, eases traffic jams and reduces disruptions.
Public transport in Kuala Lumpur has improved in recent decades. Today, KL Sentral is a well-developed transport hub, comparable with hubs in many other cities worldwide. A comprehensive network of buses, taxis and various rail systems links the KL centre with the outskirts.
But these connections have only marginally eased traffic snarls in the city, which still faces frequent traffic jams, even during off-peak hours.
If we take certain measures, we can overcome the teething problems with the city’s transport system.
- Improve last-mile connectivity – Passengers alighting at light rail transit (LRT) and mass rapid transit (MRT) stations often have to wait around 20 minutes for feeder buses to residential areas. This deters commuters from taking the trains. To complement the feeder buses at these rail stations, allow three-wheeled vehicles or tuk-tuk, as they call it in Thailand, to transport commuters from MRT and LRT stations to residential areas
- Increase bus frequencies – Issue more licences to bus companies to increase the frequency of ordinary bus services from residential areas to key places in the city. Buses must ply key routes at least every five minutes. If possible, designate special lanes for buses to ensure optimum frequency. Commuters now have to wait around 20-30 minutes for a bus in residential areas like Bangsar. Many bus stops do not have proper seats, making it uncomfortable for passengers, especially senior citizens. Display the arrival times of buses at each bus stop
- Reduce waiting times for intercity bus services and increase the services for regular, well-patronised routes
- Offer senior citizens a 50% concession for season tickets (Currently, Rapid KL has a RM50 monthly pass, which gives unlimited travel for commuters, but no discount is given to senior citizens)
- Impose severe fines on those flouting traffic regulations – Many people abuse the law thinking they can contravene the law. When they are issued a fixed penalty notice, they will wait for a ‘discount’ to be offered. Stop giving discounts to traffic offenders. If they fail to settle fines within a certain period, charge them in court. Highlight the offences of those convicted in the media; the shame from the media coverage will be a deterrent to other motorists
- Issue penalty notices to those who illegally obstruct parking bays with dustbins, flower pots and chairs. All over KL, motorists and motorcyclists park indiscriminately on pavements, denying senior citizens, the disabled and pregnant women an unobstructed path. Take stern action to ensure rules are observed. Erect barriers on pavements to deter motorists and motorcyclists from parking on them. What is most appalling is when motorcyclists park on tactile surfaces that are meant for blind people
- Install CCTV cameras at strategic points in KL to catch offenders for any traffic violations. Irresponsible motorists and motorcyclists endanger the lives of pedestrians when they ignore the flashing lights at pedestrian crossings
- Introduce a demerit points system for traffic offences and suspend the driving licences of repeat offenders. Cancel the driving licences of more serious offenders
- Introduce more competition in ride-hailing services to benefit consumers. Initially, such services were a boon for the people but fares have risen. A journey that used to cost RM4 has soared to RM17. During peak hours, it is difficult to hail a private hire vehicle. All other taxi services should also provide ride-hailing services
- Ensure public transport plays a critical role in all new property development projects. At present, property development projects rarely take into account public transport connectivity
Transport Minister Anthony Loke recently highlighted the poor maintenance of rail infrastructure and station facilities. The escalator at the Bangsar LRT station breaks down often. When this happens, senior citizens, the disabled and pregnant women face difficulty climbing the escalator stairs. The authorities must immediately repair all malfunctioning facilities at LRT and MRT stations.
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Loke is taking on many other issues in the transport sector. He is undoubtedly committed and sincere in trying to improve the country’s transport systems. The public must assist the minister in discharging his enormous task by providing him feedback.