From YS Chan
I refer to the report “Bring back SPAD, transport planner urges Putrajaya” (FMT, May 3) and concur with Wan Agyl Wan Hassan, formerly head of policy and planning at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), who made this timely proposal.
He cited the federal government’s recent decision to ban the use of electric scooters on public roads as a knee-jerk reaction which could kill the potential of micro-mobility to fill the gaps as the “first and last-mile solution” for public transport users, especially for the younger generation.
He opined that a commission, with wider clout and better resources, would have jumped at the opportunity to be the lead agency to bridge federal, state and district agencies in dealing with micro-mobility, and to advise the government on embracing innovations in public transport.
After SPAD was established in 2010, it was helmed by luminaries, including Syed Hamid Albar as its chairman and Mohd Nur Ismail Mohamed Kamal as CEO. The latter was succeeded by Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah in 2015 while Qamar Wan Noor was appointed COO in 2017.
Many of the brightest brains that ever worked in government agencies were working in SPAD, as the regime then spared no effort to transform land public transport, which encompasses passenger and freight transport by road and rail, including the light rail transit (LRT), mass rapid transit (MRT) and high-speed trains.
But with cost-cutting measures by the Pakatan Harapan government, SPAD was reduced to an agency and a pale shadow of its former self. Unlike before, resurrecting SPAD to its former glory would not adversely affect existing staff of the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD).
Its current director-general could be redesignated as CEO and many former key staff members that could contribute significantly would be keen to re-join. Apart from not having to reinvent the wheel, the revived SPAD could accelerate changes that are much needed or even bring transformation.
At the Land Public Transport Symposium of 2015, I was a panellist in the session titled “The first and last-mile connectivity: How do we make it better”, I called for the return of the minibus services as part of the last mile connectivity solution, especially to and from train stations.
I also presented the idea of last-mile connectivity by using electric bicycles, single wheel electric unicycles, two-wheel hoverboards and electric scooters. As reported, I received thunderous applause from 650 people of different credentials in public transport from the Asean region.
Sadly, seven years have flowed under the bridge with nothing done by the authorities to make the first and last-mile for public transport users more pleasant and convenient. It has culminated in a ban on electric scooters on public roads after a series of nasty accidents and near misses.
Two years after I called to bring back minibuses, Rapid KL started a trial run of their new minibuses from Sept 1 to Nov 29, 2019, on Route T300 (Bukit Indah to Ampang Point). But later, more double-decker buses were running with passenger loads that minibuses could carry.
Likewise, if only the MRT had chosen minibuses for feeder service instead of full-size buses that were running empty most of the time, the wastage would have been much lesser. Clearly, a strong and competent policy planner and regulator on land public transport is very much needed.
YS Chan is a tourism industry consultant and an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.