Safely connecting citizens to their destinations with interlinked bus and rail services.
With the target of creating a Low Carbon City in mind, the mobility of citizens needs to be taken into consideration. As of December 2019, there were 31.2 million privately registered vehicles in Malaysia, which includes cars, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles.
With Malaysia’s estimated population of 32.5 million citizens in 2019, that roughly works out to a rate of about one car for every 2.25 people in the country, and nearly one motor vehicle per person.
If this trend were to continue, not only would GHG emissions continue to increase, but traffic congestions would also worsen and compound the problem. Thus, a solution which could ease emissions and traffic congestions would be to encourage the use of public transport.
Increasing bus ridership
Where accessible, taking the bus to work or to transit to a train station is an environmentally friendly and economical way to travel. Each bus, if properly utilised, can potentially reduce between 30 to 50 single occupancy cars on the road.
To increase bus ridership, proper infrastructure is needed to support the bus service network. Firstly, ease of access to bus stops and bus terminals is key towards encouraging people to use public transport.
Next, having dedicated bus lanes, especially in congested areas such as the Central Business Districts (CBDs), would be greatly beneficial as it reduces the amount of time users are stuck in traffic jams compared to if they were to drive their private vehicles.
Finally, a crucial consideration for users would be cost. Sensible and reasonable pricing structures are needed to convince users that it is more cost effective to switch to public transport.
Connecting the last mile
For public transport to be a viable option to reduce citizens reliance on privately owned vehicles, connecting citizens with routes to complete their last mile would be tantamount. As it stands, many citizens do not rely on public transport as they might not have direct access to their destination. It needs to be convenient for users to get to their destination in a timely fashion.
Thus, having a properly integrated public transport system that services not only the major routes but also has feeder or shuttle services which provide accessibility to smaller districts and neighbourhoods would be required.
Building confidence in our public transport system
To encourage citizens to leave their personal vehicles at home, there first needs to be confidence in the public transport system. Below are some of the core tenets that a good public transport system needs:
- Speed & Punctuality
Major gripes that many citizens have about public transport is typically a lack of punctuality, unreliable service frequency and overcrowding during peak hours.
The frequency of services should be on schedule and provide peace of mind to the user that they will be able to plan their daily commute based on set timings. Adequate service should also be adjusted to accommodate the demand during peak hours.
- Safety & Reliability
The maintenance of the public transport service fleet is essential towards building citizens’ confidence in these services, knowing that they will be able to safely arrive at their destination.
Additionally, drivers and attendants should receive proper training. There should be strict service standards that drivers have to adhere to, in order to ensure that the safety of their passengers is always protected.
- Cost Effectiveness
Taking into consideration transits and last mile connection needs, the cost of taking public transport needs to be considerably less than the cost needed to maintain a personal vehicle. As a public service, pricing should be effective and affordable in enabling citizens from all walks of life to benefit.
- Service Network Coverage
By providing connectivity between bus and rail services at strategic points, the service network is able to provide service to the greater populace. As aforementioned, the last mile connection is a key consideration for users in planning their commute.
 Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) – Current Population Estimates, Malaysia, 2020
 Alberto Bull: Traffic Congestion: The Problem & How to Deal with it (2003)
 Jan Owen Jansson, Johan Holmgren and Anders Ljungberg, Pricing public transport services, 2015, Handbook of research methods and applications in transport economics and policy, 260- 308.