Transit Malaysia, a champion for Malaysian public transport users, appeals to the government to address the deep-seated issues concerning public transportation ahead of the impending 2024 Budget.
Public transportation in Malaysia has long been plagued by governance, organization, and management issues. Solely criticizing the system, pointing fingers at specific operators, or touting competition will not remedy the situation.
Malaysia has seen a stream of governments over the past three decades, each endorsing different urban public transport strategies. Regardless of the size or scope, these solutions have often overlooked buses and the first-last mile connectivity, leaving them neglected amidst the country’s longstanding car-centric developmental trajectory.
What’s remarkable is the blatant neglect of the bus system in rectifying Malaysia’s hazardous car-dependency trend, particularly in burgeoning megacities. Other global regions facing similar suburban sprawl have managed to expand public transport beyond capital-intensive metros through comprehensive and effective urban bus system planning.
Despite buses being the preferred public transport mode in cities with extensive metro systems, like Hong Kong, London, New York, and Singapore, the bus ridership in Greater Kuala Lumpur (GKL) falls significantly behind rail.
Several past attempts to revamp the urban bus system, from Prasarana’s takeover of the failing Intrakota-Park May duopoly to the introduction of low-floor minibuses into Rapid Bus fleet, have not reversed this negative trajectory.
Opening fixed bus routes to private minibus operators is unlikely to address the underlying problem, which is the lack of a holistic approach to governing public transport in Malaysia.
After fifteen years of research, Transit Malaysia implores the government once more to refocus its efforts on resolving the fundamental governance issues in public transport. This can lead to substantial improvements in policy, planning, and service delivery.
Transit Malaysia proposes a three-pronged approach:
- The government should be accountable to itself (via the Cabinet) and ultimately to the citizens through Parliament, ceasing debates over responsibility.
- Ministries, particularly those of Transportation, Finance, Works, Local Government Development, and Federal Territories, should work in harmony to prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and buses over cars, under the guidance of the Prime Minister’s Department.
- Before diving into policy adjustments and solutions, the government must first establish unified and holistic urban transportation governance and funding, outlining clear roles and responsibilities for federal, state, and municipal entities.
For tangible improvements in public transport, the government needs to stop putting the cart before the horse. We at Transit Malaysia have a plan and we implore our elected officials and government to join us in this endeavor.
Commencing with policy governance and accountability, we can then transition to our suggested solutions. Implementing effective solutions will demand resources; however, these will be far less costly than the grand projects and half-baked solutions of the past thirty years.
Together, we can improve public transportation or we can continue the endless debates.
This news is based on an article from Malay Mail.