Disability group slams plan to replace feeder buses with Grab

PETALING JAYA: A coalition of NGOs representing disabled people today criticised Putrajaya’s plan to replace feeder buses with Grab cars, calling the idea unacceptable and simplistic.

The Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport (BEAT) group urged the government to consider the poor and marginalised groups who may depend solely on public transport to get around.

Its coordinator Christine Lee said affordability was a major point of concern.

In a statement, she said the fare for the feeder bus service was RM1 per trip, with discounts for senior citizens, students and persons with disabilities.

The Grab car fare, on the other hand, was “six to 10 times” higher, she claimed.

Likewise, accessibility was a concern as neither taxis nor Grab cars were designed to accommodate wheelchair-bound individuals.

“At present, all feeder buses are wheelchair-friendly, equipped with features such as ramps, dedicated spaces and special alert buttons, among others,” she said.

Last week, the finance minister’s political secretary Tony Pua was reported as saying that Putrajaya was considering pursuing public-private partnerships in government projects, especially those involving infrastructure and public transport expenditure, to manage its fiscal deficit and large debt.

“Why should you provide feeder buses if you can work with Grab? They can actually arrive and give door-to-door delivery from the MRT to commuters’ homes at a reasonable price, and at a cost that will be cheaper than us (the government) supplying feeder buses,” he said.

The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor was one of the first to criticise the suggestion, calling it “half-cooked”.

Lee meanwhile urged the government to explore other means of cutting costs.

“Removing the feeder buses can be seen as taking the easy way out,” she said, adding that feeder buses were an integral part of the MRT system and could not be replaced with Grab cars.