KUALA LUMPUR – “The bus doesn’t come in here, so I’d have to carry my disabled son and walk 20 to 25 minutes to the nearest bus stop,” Facebook user Djaz Anggun wrote on Bernama’s Facebook page.
She was responding to a question by a local news agency posed on its Facebook page on the problems faced as a user of Malaysia’s public transportation system.
Upon further enquiry, the mother of a nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy revealed that she lived at the PPR Intan Baiduri flats in Kepong – just a 15-minute drive from the Selayang-Kepong Highway.
It is strange that there is no public bus service in an area easily accessible and densely populated with a large number of people from the B40 group who would most depend on the service.
Accessibility issues, poor connectivity and infrequent and oft-disrupted service are problems that are still prevalent and unresolved when it comes to the Malaysian public transportation system, despite it being 2022.
Poor access, interconnectivity
Local governments often encourage the use of public transportation as a solution to traffic congestion issues particularly in big cities, but the public says this is easier said than done.
“I would love to get to work using public transportation, but the poor connectivity makes it too troublesome. I’d need to take a feeder bus to the MRT or LRT station, and then I’d have to walk further to get to the office.
“The better decision is to take my motorcycle because parking and fuel costs are cheaper and it’s faster for me, even though I know it can be riskier. If I drive I would have to consider parking, fuel and toll costs as well as traffic jam. Cycling 30km to work would leave me sweaty, not to mention unsafe as it’d be via the highway,” wrote Facebook user Adhary Abd Aziz.
Many of the complaints in the comments section were about difficulties in accessing public transportation in their localities and the lengths they would have to go to in order to use them.
Facebook user Junny Lai said bus routes do not cover many areas in Kuala Lumpur.
“Even if I used public transportation, I would still need to walk for 15-30 minutes to my destination or take a Grab. I might as well get a car,” she commented.
Many echoed her sentiments in the comments section of the post, which has garnered more than 1,500 likes and 671 comments.
Facebook user Marina Ibrahim proposed reintroducing mini buses to solve the issue.
“We need more feeder buses, maybe we can use mini buses for the purpose. It can easily enter neighbourhoods and villages,” she said.
Not keeping to schedule
The poor frequency of service is another issue many brought up.
“The feeder bus service to MRT stations doesn’t keep to the schedule, and if you complain to service providers they would just ignore it,” said Raja Mahadi Muhamed Mahmoodiah.
Another Facebook user concurred.
“Yes, buses simply don’t follow the listed schedule. I can understand if they are late, but often times the bus would arrive much earlier than scheduled, particularly in the mornings. This makes it difficult for passengers to plan their journey ahead of time,” said Amam Amam on the Facebook post.
KTM Komuter user Mukhlis Zulkifli lamented the long intervals between trains.
“Why can’t they make the intervals shorter? It’s tiresome to wait an hour during non-peak hours. There is also inconsistent communication with passengers if schedules change or the train breaks down,” he wrote.
Facebook user Faizal My shares a similar sentiment.
“Once in a while I would attempt to use the KTM Komuter. The interval between each train service is very long. You need to know the schedule because if you miss it, you could end up stranded at the station for 2-3 hours and mess up your entire day’s plans,” he wrote.
Other users said that they chose to use their own vehicles because they did not want to waste time depending on public transportation with unreliable schedule.
“My house is just a stone’s throw away from a Komuter station. Once, I attempted to go to MidValley Megamall using the Komuter service but I saw that I would have to wait 30 minutes for the train to arrive. I went back home, took my car and in 15 minutes I was parked at the mall. Time is gold,” shared Facebook user Reedzuan AR.
Monitoring App also unreliable
Several users suggested the use of a live monitoring system to track public transportation movement and inform passengers or delays or technical issues to help them better plan their journey.
“Make an app that can tell you in real time of a bus’ location and estimated time of arrival (similar to WhatsApp’s live location) so that users can wisely plan their journey in uncertain weather and traffic condition,” Muhd Hasansyukri proposed.
Facebook user Diy Faat provided a similar suggestion: “Make an app for all public buses so that we’d know when a bus would arrive. We wouldn’t have to wait long and bus operators would also benefit from this because they’d always have passengers.”
Other uses pointed out that Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (Prasarana) – provider of the LRT, KL Monorail, MRT and Rapid Bus services – had already developed an app as such, called PULSE by Prasarana.
“The PULSE by Prasarana app can tell you the location and estimated time of arrival of each bus,” wrote Farid Fatah.
Facebook user AWei Li Wei, however, claimed that the app did not provide reliable information.
“It would say a bus was 15 minutes away, and then suddenly it would be 30 minutes, and then it would change to an hour. I would end up waiting over an hour for a bus that never arrived,” she commented.
She said the problem had been especially worse during the recent fasting month and the week after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“I had to wait two hours for the bus to arrive. In the app it says that it would take another 15 minutes but that wasn’t the case. I’ve tried taking public transportation to work or other places but if you’re pressed for the time, it’s not a good idea. You can’t trust (the service), it’s inconsistent,” she added.
Bernama tried contacting Prasarana Malaysia Berhad several times to get answers to the issues raised but have yet to receive a response.