GEORGE TOWN - The increased fares for the funicular train ride in Penang Hill has been criticised, with people asking why it was done "on the quiet".
Penang MCA deputy chief Tan Teik Cheng said the return fare for adults (locals aged below 60) was raised to RM10 (S$3.36) from RM8 without a proper announcement by Penang Hill Corp (PHC).
Fares for other categories were retained.
"This was only shown on the corporation's website and at the Hill's lower station.
"How about those who have difficulty accessing the Internet?
"It is as if the decision was made secretly," he said when contacted yesterday.
The fare was raised effective Aug 1.
Many people who took advantage of the public holiday yesterday by going to Penang Hill were surprised to find out about the fare increase.
Trader Rejab Yaakob, 70, who came with his family from Kuala Ketil in Kedah said he was disappointed to find out about the increase.
"I did not know about it. We have been wanting to visit Penang Hill again. The last time I visited was more than five years ago and the return fare was only RM4 then.
"Those with big families will feel the pinch," said Rejab, who was accompanied by wife Nor Hayati Jamaludin, 51, daughter Nurul Sophia Rejab, 14, grandchildren Saidatul Shazwani Zarizal, seven, Darwisha Zarizal, five, and Akid Zarizal, two.
Drinks seller K. Kumaran, 37, said the fare increase should have been announced in the media.
"This is a better way, and not just putting in on their website,'' he complained.
For senior citizens and students, the fare is retained at RM5, with foreigners charged RM30.
Disabled persons, those holding OKU cards and children aged below three (local and foreign) enjoy free rides.
When contacted, PHC internal operation division manager Baharin Annuar Abu Bakar said although the fare increase was stated as effective Aug 1 on the website, "the increase was actually from Jan 1".
"We put it as effective Aug 1 because we wanted to show the public the latest train fare," he added.
As such, he claimed that there was no price increase but just a "standardisation of fares".
"Previously, we had a lot of packages for families and that confused the public," Baharin added.