Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our Public Transport (Artificially Created) Woes

Ayah told me now our residential area is now served by RapidKL, for reasons I think mostly to cater to students of the newly opened Campus. One night, as I looked out my window, I saw the bus with its passengers en route to Shah Alam. Such image reminds me of The Little Red Dot - getting around is such a bliss, even at wee hours!

Whenever I tell people that I take public transport to move around, it's natural to see them shocked. Some pity, some tease, some mock, some just couldn't understand why I want to go through the kind of public transport this Ibut Pertiwi offers. Even my parents, at times, think I am being unreasonable exposing myself to possible security risks, especially when I have to stay late working or attending to my personal arrangements in town. Pak Busu bought me a pepper spray so I could fend off unwanted 'objects'. My sister suggested I stay at her house, instead of getting myself sexually harassed (mildly put forward to the idea of getting raped). Still, where I stay is my home sweet home - a place i sleep under the same roof with my beloved parents. Besidea, I put my trust in those drivers, conductors and security guards (at commuter stations) - mere strangers - who are very kind indeed to make sure I would get home safe and sound. Most of the time, these people are non-Malays and non-Malaysians. I postulate that their kindness to strangers stem from their belief that no one should experience any difficulties, which they have endured before. Their selflessness is Class Act!

How I wish more people will put their trust in our public transport. Taking one has more economical benefits than trying very hard to be in the League of High-Income Economies because in this country, the richer you get, the poorer you will be, unless you are protected by racial and corrupt 'armours'.

I know you'd think ours isn't convenient enough compared to us driving our own cars but who say it should be that convenient? Plus, tell me if driving around these days is easy enough. If you read En Moaz Yusuf Ahmad's "Good Public Transport System Needs Reliability, Availability", you'd know more about the recipe to a viable public transport system.

I could see that we Malaysians believe that our cars are symbol of prosperity and prestige in life and thus making public transport a system that only fits those of low 'caste' - 'the untouchables' of the society. It is even worse that our government tells us that having a car is a necessity. Indeed, a necessity to them to get more out of our pockets through increasing petrol prices and toll fares, excessive tax on reliable imported cars, overpriced lousy local cars, higher interest rate for Hire-Purchase and Insurances and not forgetting, the gem of denying accessible public transport - that is building more highways. Josh Hong's "Better Public Transport: A Local Fairy Tale" ought to enlighten us about people in Loew Joachim's country, Germany - the birthplace of BMW, Audi, VW, Porsche, Opel, Mercs and countless more cars.

No matter how much moneys we have been told that the Government has put aside to improve our public transport system, for me, our woes are artificially created for the purpose of self-interest of selected people in our society (read: greed).

They will never cease to be the stumbling blocks until we change our perception about the system. Come to think of it, we shout to the high heavens that this government should be changed but have we changed ourselves?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The light rail extensions they are planning will cost a bomb. Present ones already stymied by cost escalations and land/building acquisitions that are in the paths of the planned routes, the new ones will face similar problems. Because the plan has been announced and acquisition costs will inflate.

Who will be paying to build it? Certainly not the private sector unless they can charge big ticket fees to recover their capital and maintenance costs. Certainly not the government because it does not have the money. So it looks like a pipe dream.

Something else to note. Rail transport is limited by the routes plied. The rails are fixed. Therefore the routes are fixed. Have they thought that the market catchment will therefore be fixed and therefore the ROI will be too risky for private financing, what more public financing?

The only things that appear fixed are the deals.

They should go back to an improved version of mini-buses, integrated with other modes.