Low-income earners in Kota Damansara have no choice, but to rely on poorly-run public transport.
Irregular and poor service are some of the problems that plague commuters here, even with the area’s status of a developing township.
Section 8 resident Jeyanthy Narasima told FMT that it was faster to take the bus to the General Hospital in KL (GHKL), 20km away, than it was to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, 7km away.
“There are no buses from my area to Sungai Buloh,” said the 42-year-old cleaner. “Although the hospital is only 7km away, I’d rather take a taxi or hitch a ride in a friend’s car.”
However, taxi drivers in the area often took advantage of the situation by charging their passengers a flat rate of RM20 to RM25 per journey to the hospital.
As such, Jeyanthy said that she had to spend more than 1.5 hours travelling to KL for her medical checkups. This did not include the half-an-hour-or-more waiting time for a bus.
Getting off at the Pasar Seni LRT station, she would then have to take another Metrobus service to GHKL.
Drivers’ bad manners were also an issue with the Section 8 residents. “Bus drivers here don’t wait for us. As soon as we get on the bus, they take off very fast,” she said.
Jeyanthy added that she had scolded the bus drivers on many occasions, only to get a scolding in return. “They don’t have any manners,” she said, referring to both Metrobus and RapidKL staff. “They even do the same thing to sick and old people.”
RapidKL drivers, she complained, were also guilty of relieving themselves at the last stop in the U88 route.
“They will do this everyday. They will go to the TNB substation near the last U88 stop and relieve themselves in front of all the passengers,” she said.
No direct line
To get to work, Siti can either take the U88 or Bus Expressway Transit (BET) 6.30am service.
If she took the BET, she would arrive at the Pasar Seni LRT station, and take the LRT to Kerinchi. The U88, on the other hand, was a longer ride, stopping by the Asia Jaya LRT station.
Both trips, however, had a travel time of between one hour and 90 minutes.
Siti said that she would always be late for work if she missed the early morning bus. As a result, her company punished her by refusing a yearly increment.
“I was always scolded for coming in late. You needed to get 80% early attendance if you wanted a pay increment,” she said. “If I had a car, I would be at the office in a short time.”
Her mother, Umi Zubaidah Ismaon, was even more critical of RapidKL’s on-and-off frequency during its operating hours.
“The bus is not regular at all, especially when people want to go home. Sometimes there is one bus at the stop, sometimes there are three buses, sometimes there aren’t any,” she said.
Umi also said that the buses were often full during evening peak hours, causing some drivers to ignore bus stops.
She also had an axe to grind with the Metrobus route 99 drivers in the area, claiming that they drove like “gangsters”.
Umi added that Metrobus drivers also kept a close eye on RapidKL’s operations, as the two companies shared bus routes. “They use walkie-talkies to talk to each other and say, ‘U88 is moving. Get ready, okay!’,” she said.
Single mother Hawa Hashim, 43, used to send her two of her children by motorbike to a religious secondary school in nearby Kampung Paya Jaras, less than 10km away.
A Section 8 resident as well, Hawa will have a tough time coping with this task when another of her seven children graduates from primary school.
The cake seller told FMT that the only public transport into Sungai Buloh from Kota Damansara was through rickety minibuses.
“The minibus doesn’t go in the morning. If you do take it, it goes to Bandar Sungai Buloh, and then you have to take the Selangor Omnibus to Kampung Paya Jaras,” she said.
Although a two-hour ride one-way, this was the only way her children could come home.
Hawa also said that the minibus company that took care of this route only had three buses available, and were all prone to breakdowns.
“They are very old, uncomfortable and have lots of problems. Once, the bus’ exhaust pipe came out. Another time, it just broke down as it was climbing up a hill,” she said.
In one instance, after picking up passengers from a broken-down bus, a second bus from the same company also broke down.
‘Don’t know schedules’
“In one week, the Selangor bus will only run for three or four days,” he said, adding that there was no way of knowing when a bus would come or not. “If you wait at the bus stop and if it doesn’t come after an hour, you know that it’s not going to come.”
Sando also said the company did not have enough workers to drive the buses.
However, he said that taxi drivers in the area always knew when the buses were not operating, and would turn off their meters on these days.
“If the bus is there, then taxi drivers will use the meter; if the bus isn’t there, then they won’t use it,” he said.
“The government must have a notice board to tell the people here when the bus is not coming. It shouldn’t be that expensive; then the people would be able to know and plan when they want to go,” he added.