Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The last time I sat behind the steering wheel of a car was back in 1998. After selling off my Chrysler Alpine, I have been depending mostly on public transport to get around. Every now and then, I am tempted to get a car, but the thought of horrendous traffic congestion, parking problems, road bullies and most of all, the high cost of maintaining a car, is enough to deter me from seeking out a used car dealer.

My friends (all of them drive) tell me they would be totally lost without their car. They wouldn't have a clue how to get from Puchong to Sunway, or from Kampung Attap to Ampang New Village.

If caught in a jam, I would rather be in an air-conditioned bus reading my book, taking a cat-nap or checking out what car drivers are doing in their vehicles from my higher vantage point. You would be surprised if I told you!

After 14 years of commuting by bus, train and taxi, I consider myself a seasoned commuter. I have plenty of grouses, of course, but to be fair, there has been substantial improvement, especially over the last year.

Buses are air-conditioned, reasonably clean, comfortable and generally reliable. Senior citizens aged 60 and above travel half fare with the special warga emas card. You can apply for one at the Pasar Seni LRT station. It's free and you get it on the spot. Remember to bring along a photostat copy of your MyKad.

Trains run on time, and with the MRT adding to the existing Kelana Jaya line, Ampang line and the monorail, inner-city connectivity is set to improve tremendously, allowing for seamless travel within the Klang Valley. (I hardly travel on KTM, so I can't comment on that.)

There are now more buses on the roads, so waiting time is much shorter. The best news is the introduction of Go-KL buses. These are free shuttle buses that serve the city centre from KLCC to Pasar Seni and Bukit Bintang. Having taken a ride on one of these buses, I highly recommend them. The bus drivers are courteous and speak both Malay and English fluently.

Exposed to the elements, it's a matter of time before this
electronic board malfunctions.
In an earlier post written a few months ago ("Driven up the wall by our public buses"), my complaints about the lack of information on bus routes and the appalling condition of bus stops still remain, although there have been some small improvements like the installation of electronic boards displaying bus schedules at selected bus stops.

My biggest gripe is reserved for our taxi service. The word itself is a misnomer. The drivers don't seem to know the meaning of 'service'. They exploit tourists, they choose their passengers, they don't use the meter and those that do don't issue receipts. The taxis are smelly, the seats dirty and some of the drivers could do with a course on grooming and manners. No wonder in a recent surbey, KL has won the dubious honour of having the worst taxi drivers.

Of course there are taxi drivers who are proud of their profession, and take equal pride in keeping their taxis in showroom condition. Personally, I have yet to hail a taxi that refuses to take me to my destination. I don't understand this practice of asking the driver first whether he would go to a certain destination. I just get in, and then tell the driver where I want to go.

Don't believe everything you read!
The worst taxi drivers I have encountered are those stationed at Kelana Jaya LRT station. Most of them look more like thugs. They don't use the meter, period. It's RM15 flat rate to Sunway Pyramid. Take it or leave it. Having been fleeced twice, I now take the bus. The fare is only 90 sen for senior citizens.

By the time all my baby boomer friends reached an age when they could no longer drive, moving around in the city would have become a breeze. They would have bypassed all the early inconveniences of commuting by public transport. With the 13th General Elections coming up, there has been a frenzy of improvements taking place in our public transport system. This can only benefit commuters.

If you have concerns to air regarding our public transport, you will have the opportunity to do so at the upcoming full-day National Forum on Public Transportation in Malaysia to be held on 3 November at the PJ Library, Section 3. Admission is free. To register, call Simon at 019-261 2259 or email simogi@gmail.com

Related post:

Can you do without a car?

Are ageing drivers a hazard on the road?

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