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AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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IF our city is to see a thorough revamp of its public transport system, an efficient bus service is definitely a top priority although this goes beyond just shopping for new buses.

There are new routes to consider, old ones to re-place, bus lanes to allocate, terminals to build … and many more. Presently, there are more than 150 city buses plying some 50 routes.

The Kuching City Bus Services Sdn Bhd (KCBS) has come up with a plan to transform the current moribund system into what hopefully will be a sustainable operation.

Giving a rundown on the proposed plan, KCBS chief administrative officer, William Chan, said the first thing was to sort out the routes and then divide the operation into two sections: suburban feeder service and inner city circle linkage service.

Under this system, the buses will no longer be given numbers like now. The routes will be incorporated into three separate lines and distinguished by colours — yellow, blue and red.

“If you see a yellow bus, then it goes along the yellow line route and the bus stops will also be painted yellow so that people can easily identify route they are taking,” Chan explained.

When the plan is implemented, the Kuching Sentral project — an RM60 million integrated public transportation hub — should already be operational as the city’s only regional transportation terminal-cum-shopping centre.

Other modes of transport like ‘kereta sewa’ and suburban feeder buses will use the hub for passengers to change to the inner city circle linkage service.

Chan said this would save travelling time and fare.

“For instance, the present service along the Kuching-Serian route entails a turn-around journey of 200 minutes at a frequency of 30 minutes for RM5. With the hub, the time will be reduced to a 120-minute turn-around, shortening the frequency to 20 minutes at a fare of RM3.50 … perhaps with the same number of buses.”

He pointed out the KCBS understood the need for ‘kereta sewa’ because they serviced the routes to housing estates.

“So phase II will be organising kereta sewa to link up the buses via an easy payment system under the FlexiDay Pass. Ultimately, there will be a 24/7 (24 hours — seven days) on-call door-to-door service.”

The KCBS is presently negotiating with ketera sawa operators on this.

According to Chan, the main concern now is the non-subsidy for diesel.

“We hope to incorporate kereta sawa into our system and ask for subsidy for them later,” he said.

The KCBS is also keen to work with cabbies, especially their radio-call service, and taking steps to start negotiations soon.

Phase III focuses on improving traffic flow and will feature a new mass transit point for students, hence removing the need for parents to drive to city to send or pick up their schooling children.

Here, public school buses will provide service from residential areas to the interchange, and from there, the inner city circle linkage service will provide free rides between schools and the interchange.

“We’ll do whatever we can to provide security for the children such as using ID tags fashioned in the best possible way … like a bracelet. As soon as the child boards the bus, a computer will capture the tag and we’ll know the child is on board.

“For a certain fee, we can provide a report via SMS or the internet to inform parents that their children have boarded the bus. We can also install a video cam in the bus,” Chan explained.

KCBS also envisages modern public transport infrastructure like bus lanes and tube-like bus stops in the city and the use of bicycles, tricycles and airport limo service for tourists.

“We need a transport policy, an integrated one, and also a main body to coordinate all these. It’s time to give back to society,” he said.

Meanwhile, to improve our public transport, it helps to look at countries with efficient systems.

Dr Andrew Aeria from the Unimas faculty of Social Sciences cited Singapore as an example.

He said public transport was meant to serve the public and not for private gain, and the bus service in Singapore did not make profit but ran at a loss.

“The real focus is providing a transport service in the interest of the public. So more often than not, a public transport system is subsidised from public funds,” he added.

Indeed, Singapore’s public transport system is to be emulated given that it has been tried and tested.

Most people who have been to the island republic will definitely give its public transport the thumbs-up. Comfortable modern buses there provide up-to-the-minute service, not forgetting the MRT system running below the bustling city state.

Public transport in Singapore has advanced so much that commuters there no longer need to pay with money to get around. All they need to do is zap their citylink travel cards on mini-scanners before boarding the MRT and the buses.

While some have argued that this is only possible in Singapore because of its smaller land area, Aeria begs to differ.

“Look at Curitiba in Brazil. Although a third world city in the middle of the country, it has probably the best public transport system in the world along with an extremely high standard of living.

“Kuching city is small. In fact, all the cities in Malaysia are small by world standard — even Kuala Lumpur — so do not equate the problems of public transport in Malaysia with the size of the whole country. Instead, look at localised cities. Why talk about the whole country when we can’t even run a decent public transport in a small town. Get that right first,” he suggested.

He also said Kuching should consider having the tram system since the city is quite flat and such a system would be very convenient for commuters.

According to Aeria, Brisbane in Australia is another example of a city with a good public transport.

During a trip there, all he needed to do to get to the airport was to take a river ferry that by-passes the whole city, get off at a certain point, press a button at a taxi-stop and a cabby would show up within a few minutes to take him to the airport for just five Aussie dollars.

Aeria said taxis (like Kuching’s) were not considered public transport because they were privately licensed vehicles offering a transport service.

“If you talk about taxis, they are a privately run system but you need to regulate them … find a system for them to earn a living.”

However, he was quick to add that there was still a demand for taxis, especially by those who wanted privacy when travelling, and because of the on-call service provided.

The most common complaints about taxis are that some do not use metre fares and tend to take passengers for a ride, and that there are very few of them doing the round, he noted.

Lesson from Curitiba

Bus company stakeholders could perhaps learn from Curitiba, a city of three million with one of the best urban plannings in the world and an internationally renowned transport system, introduced by its former mayor, Jamie Lerner, an architect, over 30 years ago. Unlike those from other Latin American cities at the time, Curitiba’s planners decided to address the process of transportation as an integrative approach to assist in the city’s development.

The planners recognised that a proper transport system could serve as the backbone for the city’s growth in the future.

Curitiba decided to use buses for its public transport because they were the most cost-effective.

Under the Research and Urban Planning Institute of Curitiba, a mass transport system was developed and today, it covers eight neighbourhood cities and transports 1.9 million passengers daily with an 89 percent approval rating.

To accommodate the growing population over the past 30 years, the system has grown to utilise varying types of bus services within the metropolitan areas and surrounding municipalities.

The Integrated Transport Network now operating 1,902 buses is connected by the tube stations and terminals and also incorporates an express bus system serving as a surface subway for the city of Curitiba.

In line with this, the city has also paid due attention to preserving and caring for its green areas, boasting 54 square metres of green space per inhabitant.

All this was due to the approval of Curitiba’s Master Plan in 1966 where guidelines were set to restructure the city’s radial configuration into a linear model of urban expansion.

The city’s urban planners realise that transportation land use and road systems can be utlised as integrative tools of development in compliance with approved guidelines.

Posted on: 2008/7/31 1:33
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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Quote:

Siamese wrote:
Under this system, the buses will no longer be given numbers like now. The routes will be incorporated into three separate lines and distinguished by colours — yellow, blue and red.

“If you see a yellow bus, then it goes along the yellow line route and the bus stops will also be painted yellow so that people can easily identify route they are taking,” Chan explained.


Very good idea...infact, this is what busway is all about...

Quote:

While some have argued that this is only possible in Singapore because of its smaller land area, Aeria begs to differ.

“Look at Curitiba in Brazil. Although a third world city in the middle of the country, it has probably the best public transport system in the world along with an extremely high standard of living.

“Kuching city is small. In fact, all the cities in Malaysia are small by world standard — even Kuala Lumpur — so do not equate the problems of public transport in Malaysia with the size of the whole country. Instead, look at localised cities. Why talk about the whole country when we can’t even run a decent public transport in a small town. Get that right first,” he suggested.


Yes...I agree with him. Size of a country has nothing to do with a descent public transport system.

If the authority doesn't start to fix the public transport system now, it will be to late when most people already have their own vehicles and prefer to use them to maximise utility.

Quote:

He also said Kuching should consider having the tram system since the city is quite flat and such a system would be very convenient for commuters.


I think a tram system will put Kuching in the world map... at least in the Asean Region, because it will make the city unique.

Quote:

During a trip there, all he needed to do to get to the airport was to take a river ferry that by-passes the whole city, get off at a certain point, press a button at a taxi-stop and a cabby would show up within a few minutes to take him to the airport for just five Aussie dollars.


Ferry system should be incorporated into Kuching's public transport system since it is divided by the Sarawak River. It will provide a convinience hop-on and off service for tourist and business people in the CBD area to the North, the Istmus and other parts of Kuching. Thus helping those area to grow and develop.

Posted on: 2008/7/31 10:11
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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Downsouth is right, if they dun fix the problem for public transport right now and keep saying that population or the size of the city is the issue, it willbe too late to fix it later. Strongly agree to the tram system in Kuching but how come all our politicians are so retarded and never thought of that.

Posted on: 2008/7/31 10:40
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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im also agree with the tram system if they introduce it in kch. However, i think once the kuching sentral is ready, im hoping of a new public transport outlook. as for now, all the bus has to fit in a very small area near the saujana area.

Posted on: 2008/8/1 10:24
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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never trust what this people said about public transport unless we can see the projects being launched and physically see the new buses on the road. otherwise just talk talk and talk - with the rusty old buses still plying the route

Posted on: 2008/8/1 10:27
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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kuching sentral project has begun...hopefully in 2 years time, it will be part of kuching landmark

Posted on: 2008/8/1 10:32
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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it looks grand from the plan... but looking from outside it kind of small place.. hopefully something at par with kl sentral

Posted on: 2008/8/1 10:58
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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OUr current bus system memang KA NA SAI!!

Posted on: 2008/8/1 11:50
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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LOOK AT THIS: THey said fund is already allocated but how come nothings has been done??

Shielding users of public transport
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
State doing all it can to ensure people will not suffer from fuel price hike
Ting Tieng Hee (Borneo Post)


KUCHING: The state government is doing all it can to ensure that people using public transport daily will not suffer from the impact of the recent fuel price hike.

“We are finding ways and means to minimise the suffering of the people,” said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.

“I have called the district officers, residents and deputy residents for a meeting to find out what are the main problems in urban and rural areas are,” he told reporters after an interview on RTM 1 yesterday at Stadium Negeri, Petra Jaya.

The interview was about the celebration of Sarawak’s 45th year in Malaysia.

“I have made recommendations to the federal government and I am doing a lot of follow-ups and we also set up committees to address the problem,” said Jabu, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communications.

On July 6, thesundaypost highlighted the sorry state of public transport.

Interviewees in the article generally felt that public transport especially in Kuching was in dire need of improvement.

Then in last week’s thesundaypost, the State Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP) secretary Wan Samsulri Wan Hasbi said the government was keen to improve the transport system in the state.

“They have a Public Transport Development Fund for the whole of Malaysia.

“This fund already has RM200 million in hand with another RM100 million to be allocated soon.

“Out of this, RM7.5 million has been approved to Kuching City Bus Services (KCBS),” he was quoted as saying.

Posted on: 2008/8/6 23:35
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Re: AGAIN: Plan to transform city’s bus service
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THE state Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP) is not solely responsible for revamping public transport because other ministries are also involved.

People tend to think it’s the job of LPKP but such a mindset need to change, according to the Board’s secretary Wan Samsulri Wan Hasbi.

Traffic management, infrastructure and the like did not come under the Board but were handled by other agencies, he clarified.

“Revitalising public transport is not just about changing buses — we need to change bus terminals and bus stops as well,” Samsulri told thesundaypost.

He said the Board’s present scope of duty was confined to acquiring new buses while other ministries had jurisdiction over building infrastructure like bus stops and terminals.

“If roads and related facilities are not there, how can the buses pick up passengers,” he asked.

On the ministries involved, Samsulri said there were many but did not elaborate.

The suggestion to improve public transport in the state is not new, having been raised on and off for several decades.

Former LPKP chairman, Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, had frequently urged bus companies to upgrade their fleet but the response has been slow.

To speed up the process, the Kuching City Bus Services Sdn Bhd (KCBS) consortium was set up to act as co-ordinator for its five member companies — Chin Lian Long Motor Vehicle Company Bhd, Petra Jaya Transport (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, Regas Transport Company Bhd, Sarawak Transport Company Bhd and Bau Transport Company Bhd.

Only Kuching Matang Company Bhd is not included in the consortium which is not under any ministry.

The five companies operate a combined fleet of more than 100 buses — about half between 15 and 20 years old — and transport between 20,000 and 30,000 passengers everyday.

According to Samsulri, when MP for Petra Jaya and Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Fadillah Yusuf, was Board chairman last year, the KCBS put forward a lot of plans to him and he agreed with the suggestion to buy 100 new buses.

“This is just the first stage because we cannot revamp in one go. It will be another one and a half years before the system gets a new look.

“We don’t want to do things in haste because we don’t want a repeat of Rapid Penang here. They have new buses there but the system is chaotic,” he said.

Rapid Penang, a government-owned company set up to run bus services in Penang, began operations on July 31 last year.

The Penang state government revamped the entire system in the hope of improving the bus service but the plan fell short.

The drivers went on strike and the buses no longer stopped at the Komtar interchange after one of its captains was threatened with a parang and received multiple threats and harassments from drivers of former operators.

For Kuching, the first stage of revamp entails the replacement of old buses with 39 new ones.

“We issued KCBS 100 permits for new buses in October last year but its loan application seems to be holding things up. RM7.5 million was approved a month ago but the consortium and the bank are still negotiating the terms and conditions.”

Samsulri stressed the government was keen to improve the public transport system here.

“They have a Public Transport Development Fund for the whole of Malaysia and when launched, this fund already had RM200 million in hand with another RM100 million to be allocated soon. Out of this amount, RM7.5 million has already been approved to KCBS,” he said.

As of January, 107 permits have been issued for stage buses, 104 for express buses, 400 for school buses, 135 for kereta sewa and 507 for taxis.

Samsulri assured all the permits were active.

Posted on: 2008/8/6 23:49
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