BRT could be implemented in Kuching and Johor Baru, says transport minister

BRT benefits include reduction of travel time by 50%, improvement in air quality and increased safety due to fewer cars on the road

By SULHI KHALID / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE bus rapid transit (BRT) systems could be implemented in Kuching, Sarawak and Johor Baru, Johor, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

However, he could not confirm the exact timeline for the public transportation project as it is under the state governments’ initiatives.

“I just had a meeting with Sara-wak’s transport minister yesterday. One of the initiatives that they have proposed at the state level and initiated by the city government is to have a BRT system in Kuching.

“In Johor Baru, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority is developing the BRT system as well,” he said during the BRT Conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

Attended by over 270 delegates, the conference drew on the experience of BRT specialists, blending global insights with local experience.

The aim was to identify and address key considerations in regards to BRT implementation including planning, tendering, designing, constructing, operating and maintenance.

Volvo Buses senior VP Akash Passey highlighted that it has seen excellent benefits from BRT systems in growing cities including the reduction of travel time by 50%, improvement in air quality and increased safety due to fewer cars on the road.

“At Volvo Buses, we truly believe BRT to be the most flexible, scalable and cost-efficient transport infrastructure and we look forward to seeing many BRT developments in Malaysia’s future,” Passey said.

Presently, the BRT system in Malaysia, the BRT Sunway Line, which was introduced in 2015, is operated by Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd to service high-density areas of Subang Jaya and Sunway, Selangor.

The BRT buses have an exclusive right-of-way on an elevated guideway which is not shared with other vehicles.

The 5.4km track between Setia Jaya and USJ7, Selangor terminals is dedicated to a high volume of commuters to avoid congestion.

Additionally, the ridership of the BRT Sunway Line saw an increase of 30% after its fare was reduced by 20% last year following public complaints.

Meanwhile, Putrajaya will acquire 500 electric buses to replace the ageing fleet in Klang Valley as part of its efforts in promoting an environmentally friendly transport system.

“One of the key factors in purchasing these electric buses is that we have to consider how to develop the ecosystem in terms of recharging the batteries. We are looking at the whole ecosystem first before we decide to purchase these buses,” he said.

Loke added that the government would continue to provide incentives to promote the usage of public transportation, with the recent introduction of RM100 unlimited monthly pass for rail and bus services managed by Prasarana Malaysia Bhd for 100,000 users.

In Budget 2020, the government announced that support for last-mile connectivity in rural and urban areas will be established by subsidising the bus operators with an allocation of RM146 million in 2020.