Minibus service to be expanded to more areas

Ridership for the service has increased to an average of almost 1,800 riders daily


THE minibus service that was reintroduced in the Ampang (Selangor) area since Sept 1 as part of an experimental project is expected to be expanded to other parts of Kuala Lumpur as it has recorded an encouraging increase in ridership.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said ridership for the minibus service has increased to an average of almost 1,800 riders daily from 1,200 in the initial period.

He said the increase is attributable to the ability of the buses to enter smaller roads within residential areas, which has also shortened the turnaround time of the buses.

“This is only at the T304 route between Ampang Point and Bukit Indah hubs,” he told reporters at LRT Taman Bahagia station yesterday after surveying the public transportation in the city centre.

Loke said a survey done by Kuala Lumpur City Hall shows that a lot of passengers have given their support towards the minibus.

He said the response makes it easier for Prasarana Malaysia Bhd and its subsidiary Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd along with operating companies to strategically plan on ways to expand the minibus service, especially to residential areas.

“It is easier for drivers of the minibus to navigate through the roads at housing areas and this makes the buses having faster turnaround time. This also increases the frequency of the buses to 15 minutes during peak hours in the morning,” Loke said.

He added that the focus would now be on the smaller buses towards feeder bus services at housing areas where it can pick up passengers from those areas to bigger stations especially at bigger roads.

“We still use big buses or doubledecker buses at main roads, so this is our plan to increase continuity for the passengers,” said Loke.

The experimental project which started at route T300 and T304 between Ampang and Bukit Indah hubs was envisioned to operate for three months.

It is aimed at strengthening the “first mile and last mile” connectivity among public transport users.

The minibuses use a cashless system that only accepts Touch N’ Go travel cards and the My50 and My100 subscription packages.

Loke said the government is pushing to encourage the usage of public transportation and among the steps involved are reducing the fare and improve its services.

The government has managed to reduce fares by introducing My50 and My100 monthly travel passes which provides unlimited travel on all rail and bus services under RapidKL, Loke added.

He said improving the service includes providing faster service with a higher frequency of buses, which the government wants to tackle due to many complaints received regarding those two matters.

“Increasing the number of buses would involve a big investment so we began this project to see how the minibus service can be implemented.

“And we find that we can implement it and this would make the process easier because the cost for each minibus is smaller which would make it easier for bus operators to invest in purchasing new buses,” Loke said.

During the tabling of Budget 2020, the government announced an investment of RM450 million to purchase up to 500 electric buses of various sizes to improve public transport services in the country, as well as promoting cleaner and greener cities.

Loke said he hoped for private sectors to also invest in the buses after more routes are introduced.

“What we are also encouraging is investment from private sectors. Once we have more routes, once we give continuous subsidies, we hope private operators can invest in these buses,” said Loke.

Meanwhile, Loke declined to comment on the criticism he received from blogger Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin yesterday on his briefing with investors that led to a sell down of Malaysia Airlines Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) shares.

Loke said what he said in a closed-door forum was leaked. He, however, thanked Abdul Kadir for the criticism.

“I thank Abdul Kadir for his comment. I take it positively and I will meet him tomorrow. As I said, I have never said anything openly, but someone leaked what I said closed-door,” he said.

Last Friday, The Edge reported that Loke told an investor forum that the Ministry of Transport is looking at alternatives to the Regulatory Asset Base framework for the future development of domestic airports.

He also said the government intends to adopt the public-private partnership model for airport operations and developments moving forward.

The Edge reported MAHB shares dipped 7.6% or 0.66 sen to RM8.04 following Loke’s remarks, which wiped out RM1.09 billion in market capitalisation from the airport operator.

In his Facebook post, Abdul Kadir who is also the prime minister’s communication and media advisor said any minister has to “talk the market up” during a time when investors and fund managers were jittery.