RapidPenang shelves plan to reduce bus routes

Bus routes to remain in spite of lower passenger volume. (Facebook pic)

GEORGE TOWN: RapidPenang has decided not to end eight bus routes in the state.

Its chief operations officer Mohd Azmi Abdullah said they had initially considered halting the bus routes, as well as reducing the number of buses for other routes.

He said this was due to financial burdens faced by the operator and it had planned to optimise the usage of buses on the road.

“Certain routes have very little passengers, like two or three people.

“It is not sustainable to have too many buses, when bus capacities are between 77 and 80 people.

“However, after discussions with Prasarana (RapidPenang’s holding company), as well as requests made by the chief minister’s office, we have decided to continue with the routes,” he said in a press conference attended by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Earlier, in the same press conference, Chow voiced his objection to RapidPenang’s plans to scrap the eight routes and reduce buses for some others.

“The state government wishes to stress that, no matter what the reasons are, we disagree with any measure or proposal to stop certain services or reduce the number of buses. This will negatively impact passengers who use those routes.

“Many do not own vehicles, relying heavily on the bus service. If they are halted, it will affect their commute to and from work.

“RapidPenang should reconsider their proposal,” he said.

On the CAT (Congestion Alleviation Transport) feeder buses, Chow said prior to the election, four routes had been launched in Air Itam, Bukit Mertajam, Balik Pulau and Nibong Tebal.

The remaining eight routes will be launched between July 6 and 31, in Batu Kawan, Pulau Tikus-Tanjung Tokong, George Town, Bertam, Bayan Baru, Alma, Sungai Dua (island) and Seberang Jaya.

On the ridership figures, Chow said there was good response in Air Itam, averaging 6,000 to 7,000 passengers a day, while Balik Pulau had an average of 200 passengers.

“Bukit Mertajam averages 300 passengers, while Nibong Tebal has 150. The number of passengers is obviously not high. It is not easy to get people to switch from private vehicles to public transport, as private vehicles afford a certain degree of flexibility.

“Much still needs to be done to change the mindsets and behaviour of people towards public transport,” he added.