PETALING JAYA: Lim Wei Ling, a 24-year-old who works in Bangsar, must get up at 5.30am every weekday if she wants to be on time for work. It’s a 20-minute ride on a feeder bus to the train station. If she misses the bus, she’ll have to wait at least 30 minutes for another.
Thirty-year-old Mohd Fadly Shaari, whose office is in one of the Petronas Twin Towers, must travel about 30 minutes from home to the train station on a public bus as there are no feeder buses serving his area. He has to walk for 10 minutes from the bus stop to the train station.
Rosnah Malek, a 36-year-old who lives in Section 51, Petaling Jaya, gets ready by 7am so that her sister can drop her at the train station. She has no easy access to any kind of bus.
This poor accessibility to train stations is apparently quite a common problem among commuters.
“This is something the government has not solved in all the years since the Putra LRT started running in 1999,” said Lim.
“I take the train because I cannot afford to buy a car yet. But I am saving up for one. I can’t stand the stress of having to wake up so early in the morning and reaching home from work only at 8pm or 9pm.”
She said it “feels heavenly” whenever she’s lucky enough to get a seat on the train to snooze in.
She and many fellow commuters have mastered the art of sleeping on the train without missing their stops.
“Try to board the train at about 7 in the morning, when the sun is hardly up yet, and you’ll see a lot of commuters sleeping,” she said. “But they miraculously spring awake when they arrive at their stops. I can do that too now. I can even take a quick nap when I am standing.”
Commenting on the introduction of the My100 and My50 monthly passes, she said it helped her save RM12 a month but did not reduce her daily stress. “But maybe it means something for the lower income group.”
Fadly said he would be able to save RM8 a month if he bought the My100 monthly pass.
“I’ll apply for it since it’s available,” he said. “But what I really wish the government would do is improve connectivity between our homes and the train stations.
“I have a friend who takes a public bus downtown and then doubles back on the train because the bus from his neighbourhood only stops at Central Market, not in the vicinity of the Petronas Twin Towers.
“Some opt to take taxis, but you can easily spend about RM20 a day on taxis.”
As for Rosnah, she was excited about riding on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail when the system was launched but was disappointed that the train does not pass her workplace.
“I rode on it during the trial period, and I was really amazed by it,” she said. “But I was sad to see that some of the stations had so few people and were so quiet that you could hear your own footsteps.
“Not every housing area is connected, which means not everyone will be able to benefit from it.”
Derrick Tan, 28, said he preferred to drive and would continue to do so even though he would save money riding the trains if he were to use the My100 pass.
“I don’t think it makes sense for me to waste so much time in a day,” he said. “It takes about 45 minutes for me to get to the nearest train station and then ride the train for 35 minutes to my office in Bukit Bintang.
“I have to switch to the Monorail. During peak hours, you have to miss at least five coaches before you can get onto one.”
According to Dinesh Kumaresan, 47, the MRT is nowhere as well planned as the public transportation in Melbourne, where he lived for 10 years.
“When I was there,” he said. “I would drive only if wanted to travel out of town.
“Most of the public transport facilities like the trams and trains are accessible by foot. The cars actually stop for pedestrians, unlike here. So even when you need to walk to your workplace from the train station or tram stop, you won’t feel like a car is about to run over you.”
Ilyanna Sulastri, 50, who works at a sundry shop in Ampang, said she might buy the My50 pass to use on her bus trips.
“They say the passes are subsidised by the government, but I don’t see how the lower income earners are able to benefit,” she said.
“Different areas in the Klang Valley are served by different bus companies. Where some of my friends stay, they may not have access to the Rapid buses. From my experience, it is still more convenient to travel by the Metro buses.
“The My50 pass is a good initiative, but I’m not sure that it will help the majority of commuters.”
Bank clerk Asri Daud, 47, said he would continue using his motorbike to avoid the hassle of having to find transport to and from the train station.
“The train does not stop near my workplace,” he said. “I still have to take a bus or taxi to get to get to the office.”
From Jan 1, Malaysians will be able to use the monthly passes on the various modes of transport operated by Prasarana Malaysia Berhad.
The facility, announced in Parliament last month, is exclusive to Malaysians. To activate a pass, one must present one’s MyKad at a RapidKL counter.
Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook has said that the government’s intention is to encourage Malaysians to use public transport and reduce their living costs.