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Getting punished for taking the bus

 | July 14, 2012

Sick of public transport? No? Well, you should be.

COMMENT

I got a letter from MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council) this morning.

It was a reminder that I had not settled RM200 worth of parking fines, and that I had 14 days to do so before they’d rolled out the helicopters and set the dogs loose on me.

I could have settled my fines the day after I got them, though I’ve always been more than a little bit reluctant to do so.

This is not because I want to fight the law. As cool as that might sound to the ladies, we have to remember the song that said that the law won.

It is more because of how I parked my car, and that by some foolish hope, that I was right, or had some good reason in doing so.

You see, both of the fines (RM100 each) were issued within one street of each other. On both occasions, my car was parked in a residential area, within walking distance of a nearby Light Rail Transit (LRT) station.

It is my means of getting to the LRT, when I’m rushing for a press conference, or a similar event.

Now, some of you might be asking, why didn’t I choose to walk there in the morning.

That’s an option I would consider if the weather wasn’t so hot. In my time overseas (Australia), I often found myself walking long distances to get to the nearest bus stop, or train station.

Where are the bus signs?

This was because the weather was nice. It was pleasant, and it wasn’t raining all the time. And by the time I got to the stop, I wouldn’t be sweating in my work clothes.

Fair enough, you concede. So why you didn’t you take the bus?

Please. Have you taken a bus these days? None of the buses that service my housing area stop at the LRT station that I want to go to. And if I wanted to get to the stops that did, I would have to walk quite a distance.

And that’s assuming that I know where the buses stop. I don’t know where they stop, because there are no signs that say, “The bus stops here”, with some information on where they go.

Oh, I could fire up RapidKL’s website and research on where the stops are and where the routes go. No problem.

Then, I’d have another problem. Waiting for the damn bus to arrive. If it arrives.

Either way, all the options make me reach for my car keys, because there’s too much trouble in trying to take public transport, especially when you’re trying to get somewhere on time.

Now, a lot of you might be thinking, “Man, this guy whinges a lot. He should just prepare every day and suck it up.”

Public transport a mess

I wouldn’t mind doing that, if the trains and the buses came like clockwork. If they actually stopped near my housing area. If I didn’t have to take three buses, a train and a donkey to get to where I needed to go.

Because when you get down to it, our public transport system is a mess. It’s inconvenient, uncomfortable and sure doesn’t cater to bringing people around town, which is why so many of us here use cars to get from point A to point B.

And that doesn’t even count for our pedestrian walking space, which exists only around shopping malls.

It is convenient if you live next to an LRT station, but most people in the Klang Valley don’t have that luxury.

For things to get better, the public transport companies, the federal and state governments and the local councils actually have to sit down together and determine how the network’s going to run.

Also, locals actually have to demand for better public transport, rather than whine about it in the coffeeshops.

But I don’t see any of that happening when Putrajaya through the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) can’t get it’s act together, and come out with the National Public Transport Masterplan, an all-encompassing document that should have been available months ago.

Or even less, come up with proper bus routes and walking spaces for people to use.

Instead, they would rather spend their time worrying about the MRT, which won’t be running until at least five years from now.

But of course, there is no worry, because none of the top people, or the Datuks and their Datins take the train or bus to get anywhere.

All the “important” people get chauffered around in air-conditioned luxury cars, accompanied by police escort.

While we long for better ways to get around town, like how Singapore does it, public transport here will be left to those who can’t afford private vehicles or those who live right next door to LRT stations.

And in the mean time, the traffic jams are going to get a lot worse.


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