The Star – January 20, 2006: Rapid KL solution for Penang bus woes

Tuesday February 20, 2007

Rapid KL solution for Penang bus woes

PENANG: Rapid KL will take over the management of the bus system in Penang, putting an end to the island’s longstanding public transportation woes.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said it was the Government’s Chinese New Year gift to Penang commuters.

“Last year’s presents were the proposed second bridge for Penang and the proposed monorail.

“This year, (Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh) Tsu Koon asked for more. He asked for public transportation.

“We have allocated RM50mil to improve bus services in Penang.

“Rapid KL will manage the bus system,” he said when opening the MCA-Gerakan Chinese New Year open house at the Penang International Sports Arena yesterday.

Abdullah said this in an immediate response to Dr Koh’s plea to the Federal Government to allow Rapid KL to operate in Penang and integrate the bus system with the upcoming monorail network.

Dr Koh admitted that the state government did not have the expertise to ensure a smooth public transportation system.

He added that the state government was not keen to take up the loan offered because it did not want to be weighed down financially.


Monday February 26, 2007

New bus service by August

PENANG: A total of 150 RapidPenang buses will ply the streets here by August, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said.

RapidPenang will service all main and feeder roads to complement existing bus services.

Fast track approval will be given to enable RapidPenang to properly manage the state’s public transportation and encourage more Penangites to use buses to ease traffic congestion, he added.

RapidPenang is a subsidiary of RapidKL, which is owned by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB).

SPNB is now in the process of identifying the types of buses to purchase for the operations in Penang.

The 150 buses are expected to cost the firm about RM50mil, Nor Mohamed added.

“After a lengthy talk with Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, we agreed that priority be given to improve the public transportation services in Penang,” he said after presenting RM10,000 each to the Penang Home For The Infirm and the Aged Silver Jubilee Home here yesterday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced last week that RapidKL would be operating in Penang to overcome the long-standing public transportation woes in the state.

Nor Mohamed said the RapidPenang management would soon brief the public on the new bus service, adding that the firm would eventually expand its operations to Seberang Prai.

He also said that the Government would not provide any special allocation for existing bus operators as theirs was a private business.


Tuesday February 27, 2007

Bus firms expect big losses


PENANG: Existing bus companies are expecting to suffer heavy losses when RapidPenang starts operating in August.

KGN-Hin Bus Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Hamid Araby Md Salih said this was because RapidPenang – a subsidiary of RapidKL, which is owned by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd – was more financially secure.

“We cannot compete with them as RapidKL is government-backed and they can afford to buy these new buses while we have to manage with the ones we have.

“It’s a case of placing a cucumber next to a durian with all its thorns,” he said.

He added that running a bus company was not a lucrative business and with RapidPenang joining the fray the existing companies would find it difficult to stay afloat.

Hamid was commenting on newspaper reports that 150 RapidPenang buses would be plying the streets here by August.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop was reported to have said that RapidPenang would service all main and feeder roads to complement existing bus services.

Hamid added that KGN-Hin directors would meet in two weeks to decide on the next course of action.

Milan Travel Sdn Bhd manager Lim Pheam Hock welcomed the Government’s proposal for the bus companies to complement RapidPenang’s services.

“We are going to face stiff competition, but in a way we have to look at it positively as our services would complement RapidPenang and ultimately benefit the public,” he said.

Citizens for Public Transport coordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board should ensure no double standards are practised if existing operators complemented RapidPenang.


Wednesday February 28, 2007

Offer monthly pass option


BUTTERWORTH: RapidPenang, which is expected to have 150 buses plying the roads on Penang island by August, has been asked to introduce monthly ticket passes and prepaid cards as options for commuters.

State Local Government and Traf-fic Management Committee chair-man Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said the different form of payments, as well as cash payments, would make it easier for commuters to use the buses.

“We should always consider the convenience of the people when deciding on a ticketing system,” he said after opening a policy dialogue on sustainable solid waste manage-ment at Sunway Hotel here yester-day.

Dr Teng added that monthly passes would be more economi- cal for commuters compared to dai-ly tickets.

He said the bus fares would be decided by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board, adding that the rates would be based on the distance and whether the bus was air-con-ditioned or not.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop had said re-cently that 150 RapidPenang buses would be on the road by August.

He had said RapidPenang would service all main and feeder roads on the island to complement existing bus services.

RapidPenang is a subsidiary of RapidKL, which is owned by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd.


Wednesday February 28, 2007

Commuters: Be punctual


THE message is loud and clear – bus commuters expect a much cleaner, disabled-friendly and more efficient transportation service from RapidPenang.

Most of the commuters inter-viewed at the Komtar bus terminal agreed on one thing – punctuality is a must!

Grandmother Soo Hoo Fee, 77, said she has had enough of waiting.

“The most important thing is for RapidPenang to provide commuters with regular bus service.

“My 88-year-old husband and I are regular bus commuters because our children are too busy to drive us around.

“We normally take the bus from Batu Lancang to Komtar to visit our friends and at least four hours of the trip is spent at the bus stop.

“Once my husband nearly fainted after waiting for two hours.”

G. Nathan, 40, who echoed her sentiments, said they want buses that were new.

“I am tired of buses breaking down and old buses that pollute the air as they chug along noisily,” he said.

Retired bus driver P. Krishnan was optimistic that RapidPenang would provide better service to commuters.

“RapidPenang is a subsidiary of RapidKL, which has a lot of experience in tackling public transportation.

“I was in Kuala Lumpur last month and found RapidKL buses to be quite efficient and well-main-tained,” he said.

The Paya Terubong Resident’s Association vice chairman said the majority of the association’s 1,200 members relied on public transpor-tation.

“Many of them have complained about being late for work because the buses are never on time,” he said.

For Sabrina Din, 42, polite bus drivers clad in spiffy uniforms would be nice.

“If RapidPenang can ensure that its drivers are friendly, it will en-courage tourists to use our public transportation,” she said.

Clerk Candy Choo, 40, said overcrowded buses should be a thing of the past.

“I hope RapidPenang will strictly enforce the maximum passenger limit. Every time I take the bus home from my office in George Town, I feel like a squashed sardine! Getting on and off the bus is almost impossible,” she said.

When contacted, state Local Government and Traffic Manage-ment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said the finalised bus routes would be announced on March 13.

“We will hand over all our plans for Bus Negeri Pulau Pinang to RapidKL and I will announce the details of the new public trans-portation system during a press conference,” he said.

MoNSTerBlog – August 1, 2006: Fishing Without Lines And Rods

Fishing Without Lines And Rods

Last week, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stated that the current approach to helping the needy was towards capacity-building by providing quality training to ensure their future – PM: Encourage spirit of caring among the young. He was quoted as saying, “With training, the disabled will be able to obtain jobs, be independent and at par with their able-bodied counterparts.”

Many disabled persons do not possess the necessary academic qualifications because schools do not have the proper facilities to cater to their needs for them to complete formal education. The other major problem is transportation. There are no convenient ways for students with severe disabilities to commute between their homes and schools. In the end, many have to drop out.

If the federal government and local authorities continue to turn a blind eye to accessibility issues that have been plaguing these students and the disabled community, what makes this new approach any different? When one particular municipal council cannot even get its act right, who can blame me for being pessimistic?

Those problems will still be there even if disabled persons have been trained and are able to obtain jobs. How are they to get to work when they cannot use public buses and trains? Do their workplaces have ramps and suitable toilets? And if not, are potential employers willing to spend money to renovate?

The Prime Minister must realise that being financially independent will not solve all the challenges that disabled persons are facing everyday. The government must see it from a holistic point of view. Issues like education, accessibility and rights must be dealt with as a complete package rather than individually. They are all interlinked. It makes better sense and optimises resources when resolved as a whole.

Given proper support, many disabled persons can realise their potential and play an active part in nation-building. We would prefer to be fishermen than be given fishes. Unfortunately for now, we are provided with the hooks and sinkers but not the rods and lines. Until a time when the rods and lines are made available to us as well, we can never really feel we that are at par with our “able-bodied counterparts”.

Prime Minister’s Wife Dies

The Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Endon Mahmood died at 7.55 am today at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Putrajaya after fighting a long battle with cancer. Endon, 64, breathed her last about 18 days after returning from undergoing a treatment for breast cancer in Los Angeles, United States. She is survived by two children.

The Star

My deepest condolences to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and family for their loss.