Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New Fare Structure for RapidKL?

Since we are on the subject of petrol hikes, and it has always been this author's position that we should focus on building alternative transport systems to alleviate the cost, and increasing convenience, particularly with regards to living in the city.

The following is a letter from Moaz, a fervent public transport advocate on the recent cabinets (in)decision to withdraw subsidies from RapidKL, which I thought was worth antithetical to exactly what the government needs to do with public transport at this point of time.
It is interesting to know that the recent decision by the Cabinet Commitee to withdraw the RapidKL operations subsidy was made at the same time that a court case that same subsidy was still pending. You may recall the lawsuit announced by Metrobus in March 2008. Metrobus named the CVLB as a defendant and indicated in the court proceedings that the CVLB had breached their own regulations by allowing RapidKL to offer a lower fare than the other operators. The court case was to be mentioned in late April, but I presume it still pending. In any case, the Cabinet Committee has effectively decided on the court case in favour of Metrobus.

It is ironic that the pressure on RapidKL is coming from their offering fares that were "too low" for the industry. It is ironic because normally the Malaysian government focuses on prices that are too high. In this era of inflation, one would think that a company offering low prices would be applauded. Well, Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines are applauded, but for some reason, RapidKL has their operations subsidy withdrawn. The new fare structure has been decided in Putrajaya, with very little consultation with RapidKL and clearly, very little interest in the wishes or the needs of passengers.

This kind of interference by the Cabinet Committee and the federal government, combined with their ignorance and lack of interest in local affairs, suggest a serious mismanagement of public transportation in this country.

That is why I am quite surprised to hear that the Cabinet is still continuing with the withdrawal of the operations subsidy to RapidKL, especially at this time when there should be a greater boost for public transportation.
In most places throughout the world, it is accepted that it is very very tough for public transport operators to make a profit without sacrificing service. Most countries and cities provide funds for their public transport operators. Here in Malaysia, it seems that the government wants to do the opposite, pushing bus operators to sacrifice service in order to make a profit.
How can the government talk about improving public transportation when they cannot even provide operations funding (let's not call it a subsidy) for the bus operators?

In fact, the government should be increasing the funds available to public transport operators, either through capital or operations funds. Perhaps this would lead the other bus operators to improve the frequency, punctuality, and reliability of their services. RapidKL may have a long way to go in terms for frequency, punctuality and reliability but they are miles ahead of the bus operators.
Finally, the government should be using this opportunity to implement KUTA, the proposed Klang Valley Urban Transport Authority, which was suggested more than 10 years ago. The presence of a Regional/Local Public Transport Authority for the Klang Valley will make a huge difference. With the cooperation of local government and the Public Transport Authority, we could see a huge increase in the quality of public transport services, in a very short time.

With the recent increase in petrol prices, the rakyat would expect that their government would act to show Malaysians that they are actually taking real steps to improve public transport. The withdrawal of the RapidKL operations funds, the long delay of the proposed Klang Valley Urban Transport Authority, and the continued investment in LRT and monorail construction show us that the government is either not ready or not willing to take these real steps and prefers instead to dream the "LRT Dream" and ignore the "bus nightmare."


Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
moaz.ahmad (at) gmail (dot) com


Anonymous said...

Would someone from the cabinet comment on this? Or they are too busy fighting with Anwar till no time to study before such move had been taken?
Mr.Tony, can you please exert your influence to pursuade both side (BN and Pakatan Rakyat) back to their respective role to carry out their duties which mandated by RAKYAT in 308 election?
We, RAKYAT, are extremely sick of the current politics development. RAKYAT is the boss (in famous slogan from both side), not BN or Pakatan Rakyat.

Akar umbi UMNO Damansara Utama said...

Dear TP,

Yes, on this we have to agree. On another note, private operators shouldn't be faulted either for complaining (or suing).

It's either subsidies for all public transport operators, or taking over all transport companies (and we know how that one will turn out).



Anonymous said...

one ticket for whole day...This is how it works...
GO to work early morning. come back 6pm, pass to friends going out for leisure or night shift....
Great for Pensioner.Special discount FULL day ticket.

Many foreign workers benefit from the subsidi, thank You BN, but when voters did not support BN, sorry subsidi withdrew. Now RAPIDKL in dilema...

Are we a nation with plenty of laughing stuffs. Every projects end up great losses and written off, billion tax payers money drained....

Anonymous said...

I fully concur with Moaz. You can't privatise but you can corporatise public transportation. When you privatise, then profitability outweighs public responsibility.

In any developed country, public transportation is heavily subsidised. When public transportation is efficient and reasonable, then people will not think twice to leave their car at home and take public transport.

Presently, RapidKL is competing with private operators. The problem is the private operators are more interested in lucrative routes. That causes overlapping and congestion in these lucrative routes.

It's wrong move to remove the subsidy for RapidKL. This will negate the govt effort to encourage more public transport users. (bcos of fare increase) The govt should offer to absorb the private operators into one body ie RapidKL. Then the planning can be more structure and efficient.

Furthermore, we need to headhunt an experience 'transport manager' (overseas) to revamp the whole transportation in Klang Valley (Komuter, LRT, Monorail, buses). The manager will be empowered to use the carrot and stick method to weed out deadwoods.

Do we need to privatise highway, public transportation, IPP, water,...etc to enrich a few cronies ? You can have the cake and eat it.

Malaysian Problem With Privatisation Of Public Goods

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If I count correctly, Tony may be old enough to remember the pre-MRT bus system in Singapore. In those days, as a student, you pay one monthly pass for just about every one who is a frequent user and it takes you every corner of the Island.

Tony, want advise on public transport - talk to LTA in Singapore and the old SBS people.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.56, please don't take everything as truth in people's blog. RapidKL belongs to Prasadana Bhd a GLC tasked to consolidate the public transportation. I would rather put the taxpayers money into GLC than into cronies (eg Putra LRT/Monorail) when they can't make money, they run back to govt for bailout.

The damaged done by Dr M is slowing coming out to haunt us each day. Unfortunately, Pak Lah is not capable to handle it. It's firefigthing from day 1.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Mr. Moaz. Incidentally, he was one of my lecturers in Taylor's College (yes, he works there).

Even then, he will talk about the issue during class, about how Malaysia stand to benefit from an efficient transportation system.

Great work, mr. Moaz. Keep it up.