Thursday, April 5, 2012

DRIVEN UP THE WALL BY OUR PUBLIC BUSES

Last week I attended the roundtable discussion on "Public Transportation: Issues and Solutions" organized by the Environment Bureau of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM). The event was well attended with representatives from OKU groups, NGOs, FORMCA, ALIRAN and TRANSIT. Well-known environmentalist Gurmit Singh was also there to present his views.


Most of the concerns were about big issues like land acquisition for the MRT project, need for better infra-structure, disabled-friendly facilities, improved inter-connectivity and environmental protection. There was also a call for better transport services in the rural areas.

As I take the bus almost on a daily basis, my grouses were mainly with the public bus system. After the meeting I decided to take some pictures around the city to lend credence to my complaints. Unless you are a frequent bus commuter, you probably have no idea what bus commuters go through on a daily basis.

Allow me to give you an idea of what a bus commuter faces every day.
As the bus moves off, you are bathed in exhaust smoke before you can even cross the road. 
Old buses like this one pollute the environment, break down frequently and are a hazard on the road.

The high step makes it a struggle for the elderly to get up the bus. And there are no bars to hold onto to lift yourself up.

Broken seats are a common sight due to heavy usage, pun intended. Seats should be of sturdier material.

Passengers often have to sit and wait in the bus for as much as 15 minutes sometimes till more people board before it moves off, never mind if it is obstructing traffic. Love the slogan on the bus.


 Another reason why bus schedules are a joke. Look closely and you will see the driver enjoying a snooze while the passengers are waiting in the bus. This makeshift dump is supposed to be the bus terminal in the up-market neighbourhood of Sri Hartamas!

Clueless at the bus stop. Nothing to inform people about bus routes and schedules.
This bus stop at MidValley, a popular mall, is so poorly designed with translucent glass for roof and seats facing away from approaching buses. As you wait there, you suffer from sun stroke and sore necks, not to mention being soaked when it rains!

KLCC bus stop - these bars are for leaning against. Try sitting and you will slip and slide to the ground!
My outing ended at night where I had to sit on the pavement to wait for my bus home. Either that or stand indefinitely till the bus finally comes. This is the bus 'terminal' for all Rapid KL buses plying the KLCC route. Unbelievable!

Queuing up to get their warga emas discount card that offers 50% off for travel on Rapid KL buses, monorail and the LRT.

So there we have it, folks, what we bus commuters go through each day, no thanks to the city planners, all of whom probably do not have to rely on public transport to get from A to B. So naturally they have no clue about the needs of the ordinary people.

About the only good thing to credit the government for is the introduction of half fares for all senior citizens aged 60 and above. This card is available only at the Pasar Seni LRT station. Bring along your identity card for verification. There's a camera there to take an instant photo for the card. You pay RM5 which will be credited to your card for your fares. You can top up the amount at any LRT station.

If we don't speak up for our rights as senior citizens now, one day when we can no longer drive, we may have to rely on public transport to get around. Why wait till then to make our grievances known?

7 comments:

Antares said...

One approach to resolving transport issues that hasn't yet been incorporated into long-term planning is simply to reduce the necessity for people to move around physically - unless for social activities. Shopping for everyday necessities ought to be within easy walking distance of every residential zone; and supermarkets can be encouraged to offer free delivery within a few kilometers when shoppers order goods and pay for them online.

Right now, at least 40% of daily commuters would probably opt to work from home if they were offered the option. Imagine how much energy will be saved when only those who have to physically run around are out on the streets - while others can opt to stay home with their families and perform their tasks online as far as possible. Civil servants can be issued laptops and interactive software like Skype so they can communicate with colleagues and clients without physically having to sit at an office desk all day. They can also be encouraged to acquire new skills and expand their knowledge while working from home - so that apart from minimizing energy waste and pollution, we also enjoy the benefit of a self-upgrading population.

For all good ideas to work, there is one major prerequisite: intelligent, enlightened, benevolent and HONEST management with an innovative, inclusive and holistic worldview. Which means no real improvements can be expected so long as BN remains in power!

Allen Ng said...

About bus stops. Modern bus stops look stylish but usually non-functional and non-user friendly. Many come with just some metal bars for sitting and the arrangements are so open that they don't provide adequate shelter from the sun and the rain.

el-f said...

Precisely, Allen. I could write volumes about our buses and bus-stops with plenty of photos as evidence!

And the government dares to boast that "We have delivered" on the front page of the Star (3 April). So they have added 470 buses nationwide. That doesn't mean service has improved. The other day I counted FIVE all U7 buses waiting at the Hartamas terminal. All the drivers were having a chat while the passengers (including me)in the first bus waited about 15 minutes for the bus to leave.

Anonymous said...

Lily, poor me!
I'm an oldie and owned an equally old jalopy which was getting more and more
expensive to maintain.
However, without much thought, I sold it, thinking that public transport is the way to go!
I'm completely wrong!
It was like getting into the proverbial fire from the frying pan!
Everything is as you wrote.
The roofs of the bus stops are translucent and don't offer much protection from the frying Malaysian sun.
They are also way too high so that when it rains, those waiting there get soaked!!
The schedule are atrocious and waiting for half an hour or more is the NORM!
Another problem is that the drivers are in charge of themselves as they can have food or snooze while the passengers wait!
I wonder why there is no one to supervise them and ensure that they do their work according to a fixed schedule!
I have also wonder why KL needs both a Mayor and a so-called Wellbeing Minister?
So that more UMNO/BN cronies can avail themselves of the largesse to be found in KL?
And we were told by the BN government that we are on par or even better than the best in the world!!!
In fact, all these donkey's years everything was simply allowed to drift in a rudderless manner while those in charge of the Federal government enrich themselves!

Anonymous said...

About the 50% discount card for those 60 and above, why is it that these cards are only available at Pasar Seni?
Isn't that very inconvenient?
In fact, I went to that place on a Sunday and the counter was closed!
I was told that they don't open on Sunday!
That's 1Malaysia & People First for you!!!
All Cock & Bull and Bluster!!!

el-f said...

You couldn't have said it better! A reporter from the Sun called on Thursday for my views on the public bus system. She certainly got an earful! Also asked to use my bus / bus-stop photos. Hope something comes out of it.

STEEST said...

Since arriving to Singapore, I have found their bus services to be excellent. I can find my way around easily and I have yet to see a run-down bus stop.

Can't believe Malaysia is just across the causeway.