KUALA LUMPUR – Despite of the many highways and expressways that have been built and being built in major cities, traffic jams are only getting worst by the day.
It appears that the public still prefer to commute using their own vehicles, in spite of the rising cost of fuel and toll rates, and shun the public transport modes.
According to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), only 20 per cent or the city dwellers use public transport. If the prevailing attitude towards public transport continues, the government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, like advocated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak through the Science to Action (S2A) initiative will not see the light of the day.
So why are people shying away from public transportation modes like the bus, LRT, trains and taxis? Wouldn’t it be faster and cheaper to travel with LRT and trains and save the hassle of maneuvering through traffic clogged roads?
FEEDBACK FROM SOCIAL WEBSITES
To answer this question, this writer sought the feedback from friends at the social websites.
A Facebook account holder who goes by the name ‘Irina Muis’ provided a picture of what she had endured for years when she was using public transport.
“It was difficult, crowded, tiring, and have to wait for long and also there were fears on personal safety when using public transport. What more, often it is difficult to find a seat. If one uses own their vehicle, they are not tied to the public transport schedule. Even if one has to put up for hours in the car, it is still comfortable and safe”.
The fear of the car’s safety if its left parked in the open and the family needs are the priority for “Jaja Karim”. “If one is to take the LRT, one has to leave behind the car some where near the station and here there is a risk that the car will be broken into or stolen. Have to pick up the children after work. Too much rushing”.
Meanwhile account holder “Mhh Meow” sounded a bit critical on his views. “This is because the public transport is not efficient. If you wait for a bus, you end up taking taxi instead, if not you may not reach your destination. You can be assured of getting to your destination on a taxi, but it is dangerous even for the men to get into a taxi at late nights. What more the female passenger faces even greater risks like getting raped or killed as we may never know the intentions of the driver”.
A civil servant in her 30s when met said her experience of depending on the bus during her university days 10 years ago, made her avoid public transportation.
“Just imagine of jostling to get into the crowded bus, and the fact that you have to stand in the bus right from Klang Bus Stand to Shah Alam. And the journey takes more than an hour due to the heavy traffic on the Federal Highway. If I was to take the commuter train, I still have to take a taxi as the station is located far away from the campus. And knowing well of unscrupulous taxi drivers, you may easily get fleeced by them”, he said to the writer.
Noraini now commutes with her Perodua Viva where ever she goes though she may have to put up with the chaotic traffic.
Through the comments received and heard, this writer narrowed down the factors that the public look for in public transport – comfort; location; timing flexibility; the necessity; and safety.
SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT
The feedback also indicated safety in public transport environments being the biggest contributing factor. Safety is very much related to the location, and good example will be commuter stations or bus stops that appear quiet and lonely as they are isolated from foot traffic.
This writer did not need to go far in seeking those ended up as victims of crime while using public transport. A colleague S. Kisho Kumari, 29, was a victim of a snatch theft incident when she started working with Bernama.
“Whatever it is, the public transport is not going to take you to your doorstep. You still have to walk to reach your final destination”, said the lass from Tapah.
In the incident she lost her handphone and cash. At that time she was walking home alone at dusk from a bus stop.
She almost fell victim again in another incident when she just got down from the bus and started walking to the office. This time around her chain was the target of the snatch thieves on motorcycles. However, the snatch attempt failed but since then she has been having phobia on getting onto buses.
“Just imagine with so many people around, the thieves were still daring enough to strike, you are vulnerable when you walk alone. You may save a lot by using public transport, but your safety is not guaranteed. Always have to be careful”, she said.
She now owns a car and is willing to put up with the traffic and the rising cost of fuel.
THE CHALLENGES FACED BY SPAD
Noraini and Kisho, who could be classified as middle income earners could afford an alternative, own vehicle, how about those who have no choice but to depend on public transport?
These group of people have to forgo all the inconveniences and even risk their own safety.
This is a serious challenge for SPAD in developing an integrated, efficient and safe transport system in the country through its Transportation-Oriented Development(TOD) plan.
According to SPAD’s Deputy General Manager for Planning and Research Nor Fanim Mohd Amin, SPAD has set a target that 40 per cent of city dwellers will use public transportation by 2030, compared with 20 per cent now.
“It’s very challenging for TOD, no one party can do it. We SPAD can’t do it alone. We need consensus between agencies because the most important thing is to have the same understanding of TOD’s objective”, he said to reporters during the recent ‘Veritas’ Metropolis’ TOD Development for Kuala Lumpur’ lecture series. – Bernama