Just publish rail ridership numbers regularly, Ong tells SPAD

Ong-Kian-Ming-Land-Public-Transport-Commission-spad-1PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Ong Kian Ming says the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) could easily dispel doubts over the ridership numbers on its public rail transport network by just publishing the relevant statistics on a regular basis.

The Serdang MP was referring to the response from SPAD on his earlier statement last Thursday questioning how the billions of ringgit the government has spent on the MRT, LRT expansion and BRT, had only seen a reduction in the number of commuters between the first quarter of 2015 and the same period in 2017.

Ignoring the ridership numbers from 2015 altogether, SPAD had only compared the numbers from 2016 to the January to August 2017 figures in its statement issued on Saturday.

“I call upon SPAD to publish the daily ridership figures for the bus and rail ridership in the Klang Valley on a monthly basis so that there is greater transparency on the number of people using the various rail services in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

“I am not questioning SPAD nor Prasarana for the sake of criticising, I strongly support public transportation and want more people to use them.

“But if the projected increase in rail ridership is not happening, then we need to know the underlying causes for this,” Ong said in a statement today.

Having previously brought up the issue of the increase in LRT and KTM Komuter fares last year as the likely cause of the reduced usage between 2015 and 2016, Ong said SPAD needs to look into the other possible contributing factors.

“For example, is it the last mile connectivity via feeder buses which is the issue here? Or the inconvenience in terms of additional time spent on the LRT and/or MRT? Or the high cost of parking at the park and ride facilities?

“These are the issues which SPAD and the public transport operators must look into.”

Ong, who is the DAP election strategist, said he stood by his earlier statement that the rail ridership had dropped because of the period of the statistics he had used as a reference compared with the the period referenced by SPAD in its statement.

“Even with the inclusion of the partially opened MRT-SBK line, the statistics from the transport ministry showed that daily ridership fell from 635,901 in Q2 2015 to 562,923 in Q2 2017, a fall of 72,977 or 11.5%.

“However, the figures released by SPAD compares the daily ridership in 2016 with the daily ridership from January to August 2017.

“The daily ridership without the MRT line has increased by 12% from 2016 to 2017 (January to August) and by 30%, if we include the MRT full line operations.”

Ong added comparing the 2015 daily ridership with the first eight months of this year, however, would only show an increase of a mere 1.5%, from 629,258 to 638,605.

“Furthermore, we have to take into account that the rail ridership figures released by SPAD includes the July-August 2017 figures where the LRT, Monorail and MRT fares were slashed by 50% (from July 17th to August 31st 2017).

“August 2017 was also when the SEA games had taken place. So, this would have increased traffic on the LRT lines (especially to the Bukit Jalil station),” he said.

Ong had previously said that the key indicator will come in the fourth quarter of this year, when the 50% discount on the public rail networks is no more.