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Commuter hell in the making

TRANSIT (The Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit) is dismayed that the KL Sentral bus hub will be closed for development. KL Sentral’s design does not provide for buses as a viable and interchangeable mode of public transport.

Even before the planned closure of the bus terminal, bus users had to endure harsh waiting conditions during the evening rush-hour along Jalan Tun Sambanthan. With the closing of the stage bus terminal and detour of walking paths between KL Sentral and Jalan Tun Sambanthan, bus users will face more difficulties switching between different modes of public transport.

Transit has forwarded proposals to various government bodies and agencies on the importance of establishing integrated public transport gateways for KL with direct, unobstructed access of expressway buses (dubbed as Expressway Rapid Transit or ERT) to rapid travel corridors such as the Maju Expressway, Akleh, Duke and NKVE/Sprint. With the planned commercialisation of the only vacant areas left around KL Sentral, there will be no space nearby left for the extension of the existing bus transit hub that allows convenient transfer from express, trunk and city buses to other modes of public transport. Without a proper terminal for buses, it will be impossible for the integrated public transport hub to be truly effective in serving the vast commuting population east of KL.

If we can share our resources to build sidewalks, streetlamps and streets, why is it hard for us to get the same allocation to build public transport infrastructure that can better use our scarce urban spaces to solve traffic congestion and serve urban mobility needs effectively. We don’t have to worry about beating each other for the scarce road space we’ve left. Private transport guzzles more fuel, eats bigger road space, emits more pollution and has higher capital and operational expenditure per passenger mile than public transport. We must question our present approach in solving urban congestion woes, and move our mass transit forward.

M. Zulkarnain Hamzah
Shah Alam

Updated: 08:29AM Tue, 03 Feb 2009
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theSun | Mon, 11 Jan 2010

Ong to meet Bandar Sunway reps over BRT
Meena L. Ramadas


TRANSPORT Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat will meet Bandar Sunway representatives to hear their views about the proposed BRT system expected to be implemented by 2012.

Ong said the ministry and Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (SPNB) representatives met with Bandar Sunway residents earlier.

“During the meeting at a town hall, there were some individuals who raised concerns about the system, but I think (SPNB group managing director) Datuk Idrose (Ambrose) handled the discussion really well,” Ong said after inspecting the fourth set of the four-car light rail transit (LRT) train which began operation on the same day.

“The entire process was done in a very transparent manner,” he added.

The BRT system involves the use of buses travelling on designated lanes, to link passengers to train systems. It is used in Colombia, Australia and Europe.

It was reported the cost involved to implement the BRT is 10 times less than building an LRT station at Bandar Sunway.

The BRT system would cost RM25 million per kilometre while the LRT expansion cost RM250 million per kilometre.

Transport Ministry special adviser Muhamad Nur Kamal said the Puchong Utama corridor, one of the three corridors identified for the implementation of the BRT, will pass through Bandar Sunway.

The other two corridors are Jalan Cheras which will be launched first and Damansara Damai. Nur Kamal also said the ministry is pushing for a study to be commissioned on the BRT’s feasibility.

Meanwhile, Bandar Sunway resident’s association founding president Joe Gomez told theSun on Monday the BRT will not solve the transport issues faced by Bandar Sunway residents.

“The roads are already congested so how are they going to designate a special lane for the buses?” Gomez said.

“If the BRT is such a feasible solution from the cost and technological aspect, why wasn’t it discussed earlier?”

Gomez said discussion on a plan that does not even have a blueprint is futile.

Meanwhile, Bandar Sunway LRT Task Force co-chairman Goh Hai Thun said there was no use in focusing on the negative aspects of the BRT system.

“If there is an alternative solution to the problem, we should consider it,” Goh said.

“I strongly believe the government is doing their best,” he said.

Goh said SPNB acknowledged the fact that total light rail transit (LRT) ridership will increase by 5% when the extension project is finished.

“So, there is no reason why they would have left us (Bandar Sunway) out without justification,” he said.

Railway Department representatives had indicated that the four level Metropolitan junction was the main problem in extending the LRT line to Bandar Sunway.

Updated: 10:28AM Mon, 11 Jan 2010
 

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The Star

Monday January 11, 2010
Smoother bus ride in Klang Valley

KUALA LUMPUR: The public transportation system, especially bus services in Malaysia, has long suffered the negative perception of being dubbed the “poor man’s” mode of travel.

It has also been made worse by the inefficient services rendered by the operators.

However, this image is set for an overhaul, following the Government’s plan to transform the system in the Klang Valley, for a start.

The congestion of city roads was identified as one of the main reasons for poor services, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said in an interview.

“To overcome this, the Government has come out with three key services to be launched across 12 major city corridors heading into the central business area (CBD), namely Bus Expressway Transit (BET) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and extending existing dedicated bus lanes system in the Klang Valley,” he said.

The BET service will be launched in the first quarter of this year on four under-utilised highways or four corridors in the Klang Valley with commuters enjoying a 55% reduction in travelling time.
Better ride: The Government also plans to upgrade 4,000 bus stops in the Klang Valley as at present, 40% are unsheltered and have no clear signage.

The bus service under the BRT will use priority toll booths to ensure smooth travelling and limited stop stations.

For a start, BET will swing into action tomorrow on two routes from Kota Damansara to KL Sentral and Pasar Seni via the Penchala Link, and from Bandar Sungai Long to Pasar Seni, via the Grand Saga Highway.

The journey from Kota Damansara to Pasar Seni is expected to be reduced from the current two hours to just 50 minutes, while travelling time from Bandar Sungai Long and Pasar Seni, currently taking about one-and-a-half hours, to 50 minutes.

The buses under the BET system will run at 15 to 20-minute intervals during the morning and evening peak hours.

The other two routes which have been identified and would be implemented later with BET, are from Subang Mewah to Pasar Seni via the New Pantai Expressway and from Sri Muda to Pasar Seni, via Kesas.

Ong said the BRT, on the other hand, would be similar to the city public transportation system implemented successfully in Curitiba, Brazil, and Bogota, Colombia, adding that these two systems (BET and BRT) would make it convenient for two million passengers daily.

The BRT provides faster services than the ordinary city bus in other cities in North America, Europe and Australia.

“For the Klang Valley, the BRT system will be launched across three major corridors heading into the city centre with a total route length of 49km. These corridors will be physically separated from existing lanes with concrete barriers and have dedicated stations for loading and unloading of passengers,” he said.

For the five remaining corridors, a dedicated bus lane system would be implemented without the actual physical segregation of lanes, but with lanes marked for flexible traffic management.

“For example, the bus lanes will only be used during the morning rush hour or in the evening peak hour with a total proposed route length of 21km,” noted Ong.

The implementation of the BRT and the dedicated bus lane system will provide an increase of 35,000 to 55,000 passenger load during the peak hour because of the expected reduction of travelling time.

There are currently 13 bus operators within the Klang Valley, with RapidKL holding a lion’s share of the market of 50%, with about 710 buses in operation daily, while an additional 400 new buses are expected to enter service in the next two years.

“In order to achieve bus share ridership of 100,000 passengers during peak hour (including BET, BRT and the dedicated bus lanes), we need a better service on existing routes. There is also a need for an additional 850 new buses, of which 400 units have already been purchased by Rapid KL,” he said.

The Government has also planned to upgrade 4,000 bus stops in the Klang Valley as at present 40% are unsheltered and have no clear signage.

The authorities also plan to remove some 700 express buses out of the city centre when the Bandar Tasik Selatan Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) hub is completed in November, allowing for less congested traffic environment in the city.

With the completion of the Gombak ITT, also at the end of the year, and at a later stage, the Sungai Buloh ITT, over 2,000 express buses currently choking the city would be moved to the fringes of Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama
 

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SPEAK UP! :: Letters
Let down by missing buses

I USE Rapid KL buses on three routes from Puchong to my workplace in Kota Damansara.

If all the morning buses come on time, I am the first to arrive at work between 7.30am and 7.45am. But, at least once a week I am 30 minutes late when the first bus for the day, U43, is missing. The return journey from work using U88 from Kota Damansara at 5.30pm is beset with problems. Sometimes there are no buses for almost two hours while Metro buses are seen every 15 minutes. I am forced to take a Metro bus and pay to get home without undue delay though I use a Rapid KL monthly pass.

The Transport Ministry should regularly review and audit bus routes.

U60+U43+U88
Puchong
 

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NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS :: Local News
RM93 mill purchase that ended in scrap heap
By Hemananthani Sivanandam

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 9, 2010): The operator of RapidKL spent RM93 million to buy over 1,294 used buses from two bus companies in 2003, only to have most of them consigned to the scrap heap two years later.

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd bought the buses from DRB-Hicom and Park May Bhd in 2003 but 1,139 of the buses were deemed unfit for operations and were de-commissioned in November 2005.

This was revealed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after its members visited a RapidKL bus ‘graveyard’ in Sungai Buaya, Rawang. The other ‘graveyard’ is in Serendah.

PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid led the group, which included Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who is also the PAC deputy chairman and Ledang MP Hamim Samuri. Accompanying them was Prasarana group managing director Datuk Idrose Mohamed.

Azmi told reporters the “official de-commissioning" of the buses was to be in 2008 but the buses were sent to the ‘graveyard’ earlier.

A tender was awarded to TAF Resources to sell the buses as scrap metal.

“Prasarana earlier estimated the scrap value to be RM4.4 million but to date, it has already received about RM6 million from selling the scrap,” said Azmi.

He said the prices of the scrap were based on the weight and the value of the parts that were salvaged.

He said the buses, which were registered from 1992 to 1998 were only evaluated professionally in 2007.

There were only 10 buses which were categorised in category A, which means they were in good condition.

The 2007 evaluation report estimated that on average, each bus was valued at about RM60,000 but it would cost RM200,000 to refurbish and repair it.

As such, it was a choice of repairing the buses at RM200,000 each or selling it off.

When asked if an evaluation was done prior to buying the buses, Azmi said there was but “we don’t know the rationale" for the purchase.

Sources said a simple roadworthy test was conducted to determine the condition of the buses at the time of deciding whether to decommission them.

“The buses were considered working condition if it can be driven for 5km without breaking down,” said sources.

The abandonment of the used buses was stated in the Auditor-General's Report 2008.

Azmi said the committee will review the AG's report against what they have found out, in a meeting tomorrow.

He could not reveal the exact losses suffered by Prasarana and did not confirm if the government-owned company will be called for questioning.

It was reported last year that Prasarana had incurred losses from 2005 to 2007, due to poor management. Accumulated losses as at Dec 31, 2007 was RM839.81 million. -- theSun
 
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