The Star – May 20, 2007: Survey on needs of the wheelchair-bound

Sunday May 20, 2007

Survey on needs of the wheelchair-bound

PENANG: A survey on the needs of the wheelchair-bound will be conducted before RapidPenang can introduce disabled-friendly buses for them.

Making public transportation accessible for the wheelchair-bound could not be done overnight, state Local Government and Traffic Committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said.

“We must first identify the main areas where wheelchair-bound passengers live and the places they normally travel to.

“It is not as simple as buying wheelchair-friendly buses which are costly. We are buying 150 buses equipped with special seats for the elderly, pregnant women and child-ren under the first phase,” he said, adding that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) could assist the state by providing such data.

Dr Teng was speaking to reporters after addressing participants of the Public Transport for Disadvantaged Groups forum at Penang Caring Society Complex yesterday.

He said that even Singapore, which was known for its efficient public transportation system, took many years to provide accessible transportation for wheelchair passengers.

“I think it took them about 20 years to achieve that. I was told that Singapore only provided buses with wheelchair facilities last year, plying only six routes initially. Now they have increased it to 10,” he said

Earlier, a memorandum on accessible buses for disabled persons was handed to Dr Teng. It was endorsed by 40 NGOs and individuals.

Related entry:
Memorandum Regarding Accessible Buses For Disabled Persons To Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan

The Star – May 19, 2007: Cheaper bus fares with new service Charges will be based on destination

Saturday May 19, 2007

Cheaper bus fares with new service Charges will be based on destination

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.

The Star – April 17, 2007: Don’t leave us out, urge wheelchair-bound commuters

Tuesday April 17, 2007

Don’t leave us out, urge wheelchair-bound commuters

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.