Monday, September 15, 2008

Bolehland Problem: Public Transport

Today is Sunday. Wow, suddenly having this gush and some 'wind of change' to go to Sunway Pyramid. When was the last time I was there? Err...quite long anough. Hmmm....been a poor kid I am and having no car, how to go there I wonder? Ah, public transport.
So I make my journey from my hostel.....
  • Walk to Chow Kit Monorail station - roughly take you around 20 to 30 minutes, tiring but I'm used to it, just ask anyone from my hostel.
  • Take the Monorail to KL Sentral - Chow Kit to KL Sentral is 9 stations away, roughly 20 minutes. Monorail speeding at the corners, wtf!!
  • Take RapidKL bus to Sunway - U63, about 30 minutes...and the best thing is that you must have good balancing skill and patients, if you think you lacked these, learn via taking RapidKL
So, from my hostel to Sunway Pyramid, you need to spend minimum 70 minutes and RM 4.50 just to get yourself there. Now, in another comparisons, if you own a car, it probably takes you a smooth ride of between 30 to 45 minutes but of course you pay for fuel burning. You see the problem there? 
Yes, public transport in Malaysia or just talk about Klang Valley alone will make one think it need much improvement. You as a politician do not need to try take once in one wee hour in the morning to get yourself a taste of how much pathetic our public transportation system needed. Save your time, use common sense you already know it deserves improvement.

Does this thing look familiar for you? Of course, as a part of your survival skills in big city of Kuala Lumpur, I would strongly encourage you to get yourself if not memorise, own one to ensure you are not lost. But keep it somewhere or else people will thought you are tourist waiting to be conned or something. There's another thing that you need is the RapidKL bus routes with schedules and some other bus company's as well. Here's the rule, living in KL is not considered exciting if the public transport is still at its "first class facilites, second class usage and third class peoples".

Here's some of my highlighted problems for you to refer. You can always argue or comment or add if you think the lists here looks better than the reality:
  1. Train services are not that extensive enough to cover the whole vast Klang Valley area. (FYI, Klang Valley is a huge metropolitan area that does not only consist of Kuala Lumpur only - it also covers PutraJaya, Petaling Jaya, Subang, Sunway, Shah Alam, Klang, Puchong, Serdang, Selayang, Ampang, Gombak and Sepang.) This extensive area of about 6.5 million population only had about 396km of rail link operated by KTM, Putra and Star Line (now RapidKL) and Monorail. 396 looks long and big, but do consider this - Puchong, Cheras and other suburbans still have no railway links...even I have to walk 20 minutes to the nearest rail stations. I remember while I was in Stockholm few years back when they had stations on every two blocks if not one and they are spread extensively everywhere. In KL, its like a mile or two for each station. Well, Malaysian are obese - walk more!!
  2. Public transports are not reliable...Let's make this straight, how long do you have to wait for a RapidKL bus B114 to go to Maluri or a KTM train to Seremban from KL Sentral? I think the other train services are considered okay if the time 2-5 minutes of gap for each train arrival are ensured. Even with 2 minutes gap, it is still considered slow. In Stockholm, trains come every 60 to 90 seconds regardless of peak or non-peak hour. In Malaysia, Putra comes every 4-7 minutes, Monorail comes every 2-5 minutes. KTM Komuter every 15-20 minutes, worst as by the time the train arrive, people starts to push around-aside on each other. Buses are even worst! When RapidKL started to cater a route, they guarantee a regular schedule, look what happen after two months. 15 minutes intervals become an hour interval in certain routes in Cheras. RapidKL is no longer a rapid, but instead a SlowKL and famous for its not in time. Build more routes but quality become low. This is about efficiency, reliability and responsibility. Trains have black and white schedules, often altered and affected due to technical faulty. Buses are different, black and white is there, but traffic and most likely human laziness is another factor. Some more mostly are not disabled friendly to cater this special group of people.
  3. Traffic jam (Jem Trafik) is a matter as well...Since taxis and buses are affected by this problem, so indirectly it will affect the whole system. Let's take my trip to Sunway as example, the bus I'm in caught in traffic jam at Federal Highway somewhere near the intersection to Sunway. Why traffic jam in Klang Valley a problem. Virtually almost every family here owns at least a car. When you have brother - 1 car, sister 1 car, mommy another car, there goes the problem. At least there are 2.5 millions vehicles moving in and around Klang Valley everyday. With numbers are expected to increase, expect more traffic jam in KL. The highway and road connections are first class but consider this, I sometimes think that the jam can be avoided should everyone car-pool, taking public transport or do whatever the government ask you to change your lifestyles. But face this reality, the public transport itself is in havoc. People have no choice but to drive instead of taking RapidKL!! So, traffic jam...a never-ending issue as long as the improvement is not done. Come on, the Federal Highway or Jalan Tun Razak are not guilty 100%.
  4. Taxis are cutting people's throat...Depending on how you see it, taxis as another medium of transport are always deemed to cut your throat. A stinct 5km away also need to pay RM5. When they see foreigner want to go Bukit Bintang from KLCC, they go and charge them kao-kao, got case it even reach RM100. Some more using NGV (Natural gas costs less than a quarter ringgit a litre i think. 10 litres is enough to drive you to Ipoh or maybe Menglembu). Taxi drivers will give you excuse that they have family to feed, so does everyone else. They will say that they need to pay this and that, maintain this and that, so does everyone else. Taxi, please try to contibute something to the public are meant to go places where buses or trains can't really stop at. Living in KL, who says its easy!! And then there's a bunch of taxis who are not willing to take you to the place you want. I saw a lot at Titiwangsa station there... "Jalan Temerloh" "Tak mau, tak mau", wtf!! Next time if the taxi ask for extra charge or refuse to take you, say this to them "Shut Up and Drive".Insist them to use metre!! Rihanna taught me that!!
I think the main problems are there. You have many more to experience but I'm here pointing out the seriousness and the urgent that the public transports need revamp, improvement and maintainence. No use setting first class facilities when we can fully benefit from it, making it pointless, useless and let to rotten under the sunshine and rain. Today, The Star talk about it in the Metro section, plans about railway extension are everywhere. Sadly, the extension that had been in place since 2006 has yet to begin. 9th Malaysian Plan is almost over and you only care about Iskandar and some economical zones that don't do much for the people. The government are all but concerned about the micro-economy problems. You can bring tonnes of gold from foreign investment but how many will be give back to its people. Macroeconomically you can talk about excellent GDP growth but what about microeconomically in terms of inflation and transportation?

The plan of extension is the only solutions we have? Why no plans on improving the bus services as well? What about the cut-throat taxis? What about the efforts to ensure consistent in frequencies of public transport - how to make them come in time? What about upgrading its services and reliability? I think I don't have to point out the solutions of the problems. If we are all wise, resolves the problems based on the problems. Problems can be a lot, possible solutions can be countless but you only need several to solve it. Case close!!


TNH said...

wow..70minutes just to get there..really take a long time and tiring..but what to do,this is the challenge we Malaysian have to deal with.In East Malaysia,no car no talk.without your own transport,you hardly go out unless you call a taxi

phingy said...

hahaha i totally agree with you !

that day i wanted to go to the OLD KTM to buy bus tix. my journey to and fro was like 3 hours !!!

renaye said...

that is why i don't want to go to sunway pyramid ... by driving it's just 20 minutes since sunway pyramid is near to bukit jalil. if take the ktm? 2.5 hours? might as well just stay at home and sleep.

Cher Linn Tang said...

while waiting for the transportation system to improve, which takes timeS, next time if you're going to Sunway or any other places which involve a number of transition station, bring a friend or two with you. An interesting company will always distract you from the dissatisfaction and have a nice trip!

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