By P PREM KUMAR & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
The government has no plans to replace Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) feeder buses with ride-hailing service Grab, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke (picture).
He clarified that the suggestion by the political secretary to the finance minister, Tony Pua, over the use of Grab cars at MRT stations was not reflective of the ministry’s view.
“That was just a proposal that came from Pua. As far as the Ministry of Transport is concerned, we have no plans to scrap the feeder bus services.
“We want to integrate with other bus services. We hope we can roll out the multi-bus service soon so that all these services will be part and parcel of the public transportation system,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
Pua’s comments last week, which suggested that the government opt for a partnership with Grab to replace the feeder buses, sparked an outrage from various non-governmental organisations including taxi associations and groups representing persons with disabilities.
Many argued that the idea would lead to Grab monopoly in the e-hailing service sphere, while others claimed that Grab fares are higher by six to 10 times compared to the current feeder bus service fare of RM1 per trip. Some taxi drivers had organised a protest in Putrajaya yesterday in response to Pua’s statement.
Loke said he respected the freedom of any group to voice out their opinion as long as it is done in a peaceful manner.
Meanwhile, he said discussions are ongoing with taxi associations on ways to effectively integrate e-hailing into the existing public transport system.
“My political secretary continues to have discussions with them on how to improve the situation. In fact, we are encouraging these associations to adopt e-hailing and one particular association is developing a system and apps for airport taxis, which will be launched soon,” he said.
On a separate note, Loke said the government has received proposals from several private firms on improving payment systems within the public transportation sector.
“We have received proposals from multiple companies to improve payment systems that would be more seamless and cashless in the future.
“There are companies that are willing to put in the card readers in the gantry so that those without Touch ‘n Go cards will have other alternatives. In fact, they don’t have to use cash to buy the tickets. These are the proposals that we are very interested to look at.”