PETALING JAYA: Privately owned minibuses as a feeder service to KTM Komuter trains could help revive the railway, says a transport expert.
Rosli Khan said KTMB should aim to reach its pre-pandemic ridership rate on the commuter service, which he said could be enhanced by troubleshooting the “first and last mile” issue.
Privately owned minibuses should be used to complement the commuter services, he said, as RapidKL’s buses were too big and could only navigate main roads.
“This explains why sometimes we can see only around three to 10 people in 40-passenger buses.
“Minibuses offer better services than the big ones. Minibuses have better speed, can penetrate deeper into housing estates, and provide (almost) door-to-door service,” Rosli told FMT.
His comments came in response to a posting on twitter.com questioning KTM Komuter’s low average daily ridership of just 15,560 for the year to date.
Former deputy transport minister Aziz Kaprawi said one reason was the Klang Valley double tracking project which had caused delays and disruptions to KTM Komuter’s train frequency.
KTM Komuter’s ridership has dropped since 2016, and worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic, from 83,299 passengers a day in 2019 to 16,162 in 2021.
The KVDT began in 2015 with the first phase to connect Rawang with Batu Caves and Salak South. Work on the second phase was delayed twice since 2017, after the contract was cancelled by two governments.
The double-tracking project involves the replacement of 25-year-old railway tracks, electrification system upgrades, and maintenance work on tracks from Salak South to Seremban as well as between Simpang Port Klang and Port Klang.
Aziz said during his tenure as deputy transport minister, he had automated the process of purchasing KTM Komuter tickets. However, he said digital integration and automation, key to attracting more passengers, has been slow.
Services must be made more consumer-friendly, he said.