Saturday May 19, 2007
Cheaper bus fares with new service Charges will be based on destination
By NIK KHUSAIRI IBRAHIM
PENANG: It should be relatively cheaper to ride on RapidPenang buses that will be plying the streets and byways in the state from August.
State executive councillor Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said RapidPenang would impose charges based on destination, not distance travelled.
“The existing bus operators impose charges based on every kilometre travelled.
“We hope that RapidPenang’s bus fares would not be more than the fare calculated based on the distance travelled,” he said after opening the artificial limb presentation ceremony at the Che Hoon Khor Moral Uplifting Society here yesterday.
Teng said RapidPenang would duly announce the quantum of the fare to be imposed.
“The fare will definitely be on point-to-point basis, not based on per kilometre calculation,” he added.
Dr Teng said RapidPenang would service all the rural areas in Balik Pulau, Batu Maung, Gertak Sanggul, Kampung Sungai Pinang and Pantai Aceh.
“Even if the headcount is very low, RapidPenang will still service the routes,” he said.
He said the RapidPenang bus depot would be temporarily based at the Sungai Nibong Pesta site.
Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop had said that the company had proposed a fare structure of RM1 for the first 7km, and that the fare for journey beyond 7km would be charged according to routes plied.
It has been reported that commuters could enjoy free rides for two days when RapidPenang commences operations on Aug 1.
RapidPenang, a subsidiary of Rangkaian Pengangkutan Deras Sdn Bhd (RapidKL), is owned by the Ministry of Finance.
Tuesday April 17, 2007
WHEELCHAIR users do not want to be left behind when RapidPenang’s 150 buses ply the streets in Penang in August.
Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (Beat) coordinator Christine Lee said that non-step, low floor buses should be made available for the public, including senior citizens and wheelchair bound commuters.
She expressed concern over a statement by State Local Govern-ment, Traffic Management, Informa-tion and Community Relations Committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan that the state would not provide special buses for the disabled who use wheelchairs.
She pointed out that the statement contradicted Transport Mini-ster Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy’s announcement that the transport needs and interests of disabled persons would be included in the public transport master plan, and Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop’s assurance that new buses in Penang would be “disabled-friendly”.
Beat, a coalition of 16 NGOs for disabled persons, urged Rapid-Penang, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad to consider “every Penan-gite’s right to accessible public transport, irrespective of the person’s condition”.
“Non-step buses are already widely used in other countries such as Japan and Australia. They are convenient for senior citizens, pregnant women and adults with prams,” Beat assistant coordinator Peter Tan elaborated.
He said that he had no problem moving around Japan on public transportation when he was there, despite being wheelchair-bound.
“Costs should not be a justifica-tion for not bringing in accessible buses. It will still cost the state government to do so in future. Wheelchair users who are denied their accessibility to buses may not be able to go to work or participate in various activities.
“They’ll be further marginalised from mainstream society,” Tan added.
The report that RapidPenang will not be bringing in buses accessible to wheelchairs is disappointing news (The Star – April 4, 2006: Courtesy classes for Penang bus drivers). The statement by Datuk Dr. Teng Hock Nan is a step backward for Malaysia in respecting the rights of disabled persons in the area of transportation and mobility.
The statement that wheelchair users need special buses is not only incorrect but misleading as well. In the Asia-Pacific accessible buses are already widely used in Japan and Australia to serve not only wheelchair users but the general public. These non-step buses are also convenient for senior citizens, pregnant women and adults with prams as the floor of the buses are flushed with the height of the bus stops.
Dr. Teng’s statement is also in contradiction to Minister of Transport Dato’ Seri Chan Kong Choy’s announcement that the transport needs and interests of disabled persons will be included in the Public Transport Master Plan (NST – March 13, 2007: Master plan to help disabled move about). Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop was also reported to have announced that the buses will be disabled-friendly (The Star – Getting feedback on RapidPenang, March 19, 2007).
In meetings with officials from Rapid KL, representatives from the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) have been asked to be patient and told that things cannot change overnight. BEAT was also reassured that all buses acquired by Rapid KL in the future will be accessible to disabled persons, especially to wheelchair users. BEAT is a coalition of 16 NGOs of disabled persons.
During BEAT’s latest dialogue with Rapid KL in March, Chief Operating Officer Mohd. Ali Mohd. Nor said that RapidPenang will acquire 120 accessible buses. Now we hear that such buses will not be brought in. After this about turn, disabled persons will find it extremely difficult to believe that the government is really serious and sincere in addressing our transportation needs. While we accept that things cannot change overnight, we are aghast that things are not moving forward but backward instead.
This is another apparent instance of intentionally marginalising disabled persons from mainstream society. Our needs should not be seen as separate and different from non-disabled persons. We have every right to use public transport as everyone else. We have been excluded from society for far too long. Mobility is an urgent need of disabled persons, especially wheelchair users. Without accessible public transport, we are left out from educational and employment opportunities. We are also unable to participate meaningfully in social, cultural, religious and political activities because of the inability to move around conveniently.
On behalf of my peers, I appeal to Rapid Penang, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad and the Ministry of Finance to reconsider the decision to not acquire accessible buses. Such buses will benefit everyone. Do not make the same mistake that Rapid KL made in disregarding the needs of disabled persons. There should be no excuse now especially when the government is already made aware of such needs and have promised to solve it. Apa macam Malaysia?
N E W S
Monday March 19, 2007
Getting feedback on RapidPenang
By V. CHANDRASEKARAN
PENANG will set up a public transportation advisory panel soon to assess and gather feedback on RapidPenang and the proposed monorail system.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the panel would comprise representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the state government.
“The state will brief the panel, starting off with RapidPenang. We want the system to fulfil the people’s needs,” he said.
The state would provide concessions to senior citizens, students and the disabled, he told reporters after attending a meeting with Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop here yesterday.
RapidPenang, expected to start operations in August, is a subsidiary of RapidKL that is owned by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd.
Nor Mohamed said 80 buses would ply the main roads while 40 would serve feeder roads and 30 would provide services in villages.
The buses would be disabled-friendly, he said, adding that 267 workers would be employed and the fare affordable.
The existing bus companies would continue to carry on as usual, he said.
He said the new public transport system would cost R51mil – RM31mil to buy buses while the rest as working capital for five years.
He said two RapidKL buses were now in Penang to test out the routes.
Citizens for Public Transport (Cepat) coordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said Cepat had been pressing for the setting up of an advisory panel to voice out views and complaints from the public over the public transportation system.
“I am glad the state has responded positively. We will see whether we are invited,” he said.