Regarding public transport and KL
By Hafidz Baharom
Before we begin looking at what manifestos should promise, we need to know what is already in place for Kuala Lumpur and the Greater Klang Valley.
We have two Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines, and an additional line to link Bandar Utama to Klang by 2021 – the LRT3 Line currently in the initial stages of development.
We have the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) line from Sungai Buloh to Kajang, with two more lines already under construction connecting KL to Putrajaya – which will hopefully be cheaper than the Express Rail Line (ERL).
And finally, we have the Monorail line within central KL which is supposed to be extended to Old Klang Road, which has been put on hold – and have some court cases attached to it, which will make it slower.
Of course, we do have a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Sunway into KL, but the fares are so high that it doesn’t make sense – perhaps one thing I would agree with the Penang Institute.
A few more BRTs have been planned, including one from Klang into KL which has been put on hold – my guess is this is waiting for the start of the LRT first.
Pakatan’s plan: More cars, more buses? Huh?
And this is where Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto gives a mixed bag that was faced by SPAD and even the government in the early 2000s and 2010s until now, which gives us this problem with traffic congestion.
You cannot subsidise cars and public transportation together.
Firstly, it takes money away from public transportation, and two, you’re doubling the cost on the government. And this is exactly what the Pakatan manifesto plans on doing.
We know why they do it – they do it because they want to win the rural votes by promoting cheaper petrol for their motorcycles and small cars – which doesn’t make sense. Primarily, because the manifesto details petrol subsidies for cars under 1300CC and motorcycles under 125CC. A MyVi is already 1329CC, a Proton Saga is 1332CC.
Thus, what cars are they subsidising? Perhaps they could clarify.
Similarly, with the removal of tolls, they are making driving cheaper in KL, not anywhere else. And thus, expect no form of control to encourage public transport. Unless, of course, they are going to implement a congestion charge – not mentioned in their manifesto.
In October last year, a DAP MP said that driving was cheaper than taking public transport. Well, with the removal of these limitations – by having cheap petrol, no tolls, and even a tax exemption for the first household car – what exactly are they doing to make public transport cheaper?
The introduction of a RM100 per month unlimited use pass for public transportation?
No, that’s not how it works.
Similarly, the idea of introducing 10,000 buses nationwide whilst encouraging cars don’t work – it is ensuring that the 10,000 buses will in fact get stuck in traffic congestion unless you’re implementing BRTs.
Not thought through properly
For some reason, this was not thought through by the Pakatan manifesto. Instead, it seems that they want to give Malaysians whatever they want without getting people to think of the ramifications of their actions on the environment.
Isn’t this contradictory to their whole idea of plastic bags banned to protect the environment?
Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley needs better interconnectivity with buses and rails, to move away from the idea of cars and motorcycles, if we are really interested into evolving to a first class mentality.
And to do that, we need to increase parking charges, tax petrol, keep the tolls or implement a congestion charge, and even implement the Automated Enforcement System for traffic laws and also emissions from cars that are badly maintained and polluting the air – especially the trucks.
Thus, this manifesto reads more like an auto industry promo, rather than one to make Malaysians change and evolve how they travel.