CEO says unemployment and work from home culture will only allow company to reach a maximum 60% of 2019’s take-up rate
by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by ARIF KARTONO
PRASARANA Malaysia Bhd successfully surpassed its 2019 revenue target of RM900 million, mainly derived from its rail services which carried over 750,000 commuters a day last year.
In an interview with selected media outlets, Prasarana president and group CEO Muhammad Nizam Alias (picture) said the company was expecting a further increase in ridership this year, but due to Covid-19, the target was cut by almost half.
While the economy is slowly opening up, Muhammad Nizam said unemployment and work from home culture will only allow the transportation outfit to reach a maximum 60% of last year’s take-up rate.
“We still receive good take up during peak hours, but discretionary travellers who commute during non-peak hours have not come back,” Muhammad Nizam said at the Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd depot in Subang yesterday.
The Prasarana rail division is now operating at almost 100% frequency compared to during the Movement Control Order period from March to May.
At the time, its rail sector only carried 5%, or around 40,000 to 50,000 daily passengers, from what it used to ferry last year, which directly hit the company’s earnings. The rate has been slowly recovering to around 50% since June 10.
Prasarana is a unit of the Ministry of Finance which manages the intracity rail lines, mass rapid transit, light rail transit, monorail and feeder bus system in the country.
Currently, the company relies heavily on its fare revenues compared to its non-fare income, with a 90% to 10% breakdown. A big chunk of the total ticket collection comes from the rail services.
It was reported that Rapid Rail’s ridership grew 10% to 112.7 million in the first half of last year, from 102.5 million in the same period the year before.
Simultaneously, the Rapid Bus services saw a 10% year-on-year decline to 81.3 million from the 90.8 million reported in 2018.
Muhammad Nizam did not elaborate on the details, but said the rail section managed to generate operating profit in 2019.
“We hope to at least record about 60% of daily ridership from what we managed to get last year.
“It has been a tough year and like other transportation services, Prasarana is also affected.”
To cushion the impact and ease the people’s burden, the government announced the short-term National Economic Recovery Plan initiative, which introduced an unlimited travel facility on all services managed by Prasarana known as My30 until the end of December. It emulates Prasarana’s existing My100 and My50 packages.
Muhammad Nizam said since My30’s introduction on June 15, 253,000 passes have been sold.
In terms of ridership, the My100 pass — which offers the same facility as My30 — recorded more than 110,000 usage a day, higher than the current rate of the My30 pass.
“We can do more, but it depends heavily on the progress of the economic recovery. If things are back to normal, we are ready to provide what we have been catering before.”
Muhammad Nizam also rubbished the tech-driven automotive content hub WapCar’s recent study, which stated that over 90% of Malaysians are leery of taking public transportation amid the Covid-19 health threat and prefer to self-drive as a safety measure.
“I believe it is the new norm — people have to stay at home to do work and not because of fear.
“I can say that commuters observe health procedures like physical distancing very well when they take public transportation, without having to be reminded.
“So, I do not think that fear would be a factor.”
Prasarana is amid purchasing a few thermal scanners for its rail stations with high traffic for customers’ extra convenience.
“We are still checking manually, but will place automatic scanners at stations like KLCC or KL Sentral that generate high throughput,” Muhammad Nizam said, without revealing the cost involved.