Penang to bank on subsidised bus rides

Penang to bank on subsidised bus rides
PHOTO: Reuters

GEORGE TOWN - The Penang Government is banking on subsidised bus rides in the short term, while working on the Transport Master Plan (TMP) to solve urban traffic congestion here.

State Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said subsidised bus rides for the public had played a role in reducing the traffic snarl on Penang Bridge and the island during the morning rush hour.

"Besides encouraging bus ridership, many short-term measures are being undertaken around George Town, Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam to ease traffic woes."

For example, the Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (BEST) carries about 800 passengers a day, and Chow announced in September 2012 that it had taken about 450 cars off the roads.

He was asked to comment on the World Bank's report that said Penang risks being gridlocked like Kuala Lumpur if it does not get serious in developing a more integrated transport system.

In Johor Baru, Johor Public Transportation Corporation (PAJ) chief executive Mohd Gadaffie Abd Aziz said without Federal allocation, the state could not embark on the project.

"We can come out with countless studies and proposals to the Government to improve the public transport service but with no funding, it is useless," he said when contacted for comments on the World Bank report.

Gadaffie said PAJ was currently undertaking a statewide study for the Johor Public Transportation Master Plan (PIPAJ) starting from June until December.

"We will submit the findings to the state government, which will then submit the PIPAJ report to the Federal authorities for funding," said Gadaffie, who added that equal attention would also be given to other districts in the state, other than Iskandar Malaysia.

He said the use of public transport in Johor Baru was still low, with only 9 per cent of the people using it, and PAJ hoped to increase it between 20 per cent and 30 per cent by 2025.

Gadaffie said the masterplan would also take into account areas with differing population densities.

"We are not sidelining residents in the smaller towns and the rural areas as they are also facing unreliable public transport services.

"For instance, there is no public bus service in Bekok, Segamat and residents there have to wait for trains to Kluang to do their shopping," he said.

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