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Too many cars, fewer people on buses

 | August 8, 2012

Raising bus fares in Malaysia is not the solution for ailing bus companies, notes an industry expert.

PETALING JAYA: A public transport expert has agreed with most of the ideas raised by bus operators recently to deliver them from financial worry.

However, Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit (Transit) spokesman Rajiv Rishyakaran said that the bus industry was in trouble not only due to rising costs but also because most Malaysians relied on their own cars to get around.

“The root problem in my opinion is that too many people are driving, thus the potential customer base for all public transport operators is small,” he told FMT.

Recently, the Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) came up with 15 demands for the government to consider in its 2013 Budget.

Some of the suggestions included removing highway toll charges, lowering insurance fees, stronger enforcement and raising bus fares.

Though agreeing with many of their requests, Rishyakaran was not too keen on the PMBOA’s intent to raise bus fares.

He said that many of the bus charges could be lowered on their own if the government paid operators to manage routes, and in turn, collected the total fares from them.

“Transit’s financial model [is] where the government pays the operators a certain monthly fee for plying the specified routes, and all fare collection goes to the government.

“…[this] should be considered to raise service standards…ensuring bus operators’ financial health. When this happens, other costs like bank financing and insurance are bound to go down,” he said.

He said that if Malaysia wanted to see its public transport system improve, it needed to come up with its National Public Transport Masterplan first.

The masterplan is a document that would supposedly address the country’s transportation problems in a 20-year timeline.

Late last year, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) said that the plan was ready and was expected to be released in 2012.

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