On September 24, 2006, Katherine Chew, Senior Manager Corporate Communications Divisions of Rapid KL announced that “the transport company had bought 100 disabled-friendly buses with ramps. These would be delivered next month.” This was in response to the attempt by the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) members to board the new Rapid KL buses at the Bangsar LRT Station. BEAT is a coalition of sixteen NGOs of disabled persons.
When BEAT met with Rein Westra, Chief Executive Officer of Rapid KL, on October 20, 2006, we were asked to give him four weeks for him to present our issue to the government. We were also specifically warned not to go to the press during this period or he will stop all communications with us. We respected the moratorium that was unilaterally set by him. That was the last we saw of him. He never got back to us after that.
Six months later on March 10, 2007, BEAT was invited to a briefing and dialogue with Rapid KL Chief Operating Officer Mohd Ali Mohd Nor. During the briefing we were informed that the buses will be coming in stages. We were told that, to date, about forty have been delivered and are in various stages of being fitted with ramps, restraining systems and other safety features for wheelchair users.
However, we are still in the dark as to when the buses will be put on the road, the routes they will ply and how this is small number of accessible buses will fit into the bigger picture to fulfil the mobility needs of wheelchair users in the Klang Valley. BEAT has already waited for six months. We are still waiting. We cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel yet where the promised accessible buses are concerned. Apa macam Rapid KL?