KUCHING: The Sarawak tourism, arts and culture ministry today launched the first-ever public bus running on electric power (e-Bus) in Malaysia, in line with the state government’s policy to focus on sustainable development.
Its minister, Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the city e-Bus service actually started in February 2019 on a trial basis with a single bus.
“The e-Bus service is to provide convenient and free transportation alternatives for our visitors and locals by connecting some of the important destinations in Kuching city. The trial run in 2019 was well received by visitors and locals, who commended the free, innovative, green energy bus service.
“However, a single bus was limited in its service and route coverage. Therefore, in order to have a free e-Bus service that is punctual, reliable and covering longer routes, my ministry proposed to acquire four more new e-Buses,” he said when speaking at the launching ceremony.
With the additional buses, he said that the service now covered longer routes, from the original 26 to 54 bus stops, from the state legislative assembly building to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, which is one of the most popular destinations here.
Karim said that all the buses are equipped with the latest technology, such as an automated bus stop announcement system, real-time broadcast content control system and video and passenger counter as well as a wheelchair facility, free WiFi, CCTV cameras and a folding bike area for cycling enthusiasts.
“It also has its own application, called ‘Kuching Metro’, which enables commuters to have real-time monitoring of the location of the bus and the estimated arrival time,” he said.
On tourist arrivals in Sarawak, he said that domestic tourism is expected to slowly recover in the second half of 2021 with an anticipated 1.1 million visitor arrivals and estimated tourism receipts of RM2.64 billion.
“In 2020, visitor arrivals to Sarawak dropped 74% to 1,199,872 compared with the corresponding period in 2019 (4,662,419), due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Tourism receipts declined 75% to RM2.88 billion compared with the corresponding period in 2019. The pandemic affected the tourism industry with an estimated total loss of RM8.69 billion,” he added.