Who is fixing our appalling public transport?

Josh Hong

The sorry state of the MRT and LRT stations has caused great inconvenience to commuters. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 25, 2022.

PUBLIC transport commuters in the Klang Valley must have noticed many escalators at LRT and MRT stations have been under repair since early this year, with the dates of completion being pushed back multiple times.

For example, the two escalators at Phileo Damansara MRT station, which I use regularly, have been out of order since February, with no repairs in sight.

Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, did not bother to inform the public of the reasons for the severe delays until recently, when it issued a statement explaining that spare parts had been ordered from the original manufacturer in China, and repairs would be carried out in stages.

What is unclear in the statement is, why did Rapid Rail appear to have made the orders so late given that some of the escalators had broken down nearly a year ago?

Again, at Phileo Damansara station, I once counted four out of a total of six escalators that were not working, which was most ironic when one considers the state-of-the-art technology allegedly used to build the ultramodern MRT stations and the impressive rolling stock.

The sorry state of the MRT and LRT stations has caused great inconvenience to commuters.

There are now long queues of people during peak hours waiting to take the elevators, and it is not uncommon for one to wait for three rounds just to get into one.

The most challenging are KL Sentral, Pasar Seni and Masjid Jamek where, in addition to queuing for the elevator, commuters also must fight through the crowds to get to the platform, before waiting for a few rounds to get on a sardine-packed train as a result of long intervals even during peak hours.

Inefficient rail services naturally lead to inefficient economic development of the city, and the fact that Rapid Rail had not bothered to keep commuters updated on the progress is a public relations disaster, on the part of an entity that claims to be “rapid”, no less.

Rail services aside, the poor quality of public bus services in major cities and towns across the country is another national disgrace.

Although Rapid KL has revamped bus routes and upgraded the information software, PULSE, to provide passengers with instant access to bus and train arrival times, the problem lies in the fact that bus drivers often do not depart on time, causing repeated delays in arrival.

The illogical bus route design is equally responsible for the plight of passengers.

Many of the feeder bus routes, for instance, pass through heavily congested highways such as the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong in the case of T816, making it difficult for bus drivers to keep to the schedule during peak hours.

A quick solution is for Rapid KL, another Prasarana subsidiary in charge of bus services, to increase the bus fleet to meet the needs of the high-demand routes.

Sadly, both Prasarana and the federal government have shown virtually no interest in doing just that as it will surely incur huge costs.

Lastly, the failure of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Selangor government to provide safe and reliable sidewalks to connect commuters to MRT and LRT stations, as well as to bus stops - many of which are skeletal at best with no shelters – is outrageous.

Why the powers-that-be are able to come up with various plans to build toll highways, and yet unable to provide basic facilities to enable the last-mile connectivity is anyone’s guess.

All I know is neither Anthony Loke nor Wee Ka Siong, former and current (and caretaker) transport minister respectively, is likely to tackle the root causes of the problem, for Prasarana is a government-linked company fully under the purview of the Ministry of Finance, beyond the control of the MoT in terms of planning, operation, construction, and subsequent maintenance, a fact Loke acknowledged back in January 2020.

Even the then finance minister Lim Guan Eng did not deal with this structural problem at the time, but chose to focus on scaling back MRT 2 and LRT 3 with a vengeance, leaving commuters to suffer consequences of the ineptitude of the successive governments.

All this prompts me to ask: who is fixing our appalling public transport services as GE15  approaches? – October 25, 2022.

* Josh Hong is a keen watcher of domestic and international politics, who longs for the day when Malaysians master the art of self-mockery. He has spent the last 15 years trying to win his feline friends’ favour as he considers it an endeavour more worthwhile than trusting politicians, aspiring also to be a tea and coffee connoisseur.

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  • It is appalling. This is the kind of ministers and civil servants we have. Everyone just close a blind eye to our problems or point fingers and then they hope it will all go away. The third world mentality is so ingrained. Thats why we need good and clever people to helm the government and GLCs. Duds just wont do.

    Posted 1 year ago by Elyse Gim · Reply