| Siti Hajar |
WITH the country’s heavy dependence on oil and gas subsidies, the government is considering fresh initiatives to improve the public transport system that has become an issue that many agree needs addressing.
Financing such an undertaking will be one of the main talking points among those in the public sector and their potential private sector partners.
During a presentation that was shared on Monday on the completed Land Transport Master Plan research carried out by Centre for Strategic and Public Policies (CSPS).
It was projected that the total implementation cost to improve the current system could approximately hit over B$5 billion as the Ministry of Communications addresses the agenda for a more seamless transportation experience beyond Vision 2035.
According to the presentation, as part of a four-pronged approach with the concept of ‘Reducing Car Dependency’, ‘Keep Traffic Moving’, ‘Achieving Sustainable Society’ and ‘Strengthening Governance’, significant investments will need to be poured in to a number of projects.
Among them are the taxi systems and public bus network upgrades, improving the National School Bus system as well as upgrading highway linkages throughout the four districts.
One of the most notable proposals stemming from the research was the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), when coupled with the newly proposed bus network, will run at 10 minute intervals as opposed to the 35 minutes in 2013 which will triple the fleet of busses from 105 to 275 by the year 2035.
Though the question of sustainability comes to mind especially with a population of less than half a million, it was assured that the increase of buses is proportionate to the country’s population growth with the target being 22 per cent of public transportation usage with a frequency of 8,000 trips during the morning peak hours as opposed to the less than 1,000 trips last year.
With a projected investment amounting to billions, the research had also indicated that the money spent over the course of improvements will eventually turn to profit before 2035 as it aims to also ensure efficiency, environmental considerations as well as other means to fund a better public transportation system.
An example would be advertisements on busses and at bus stops, which will increase over the coming years along with the finances saved from sustaining the oil and gas sector and making the country more attractive to foreign direct investors.
In tandem with this public bus initiative, it was also recommended for authorities to address the ‘School Run’ which, it was revealed, contributes to 20 per cent of peak hour congestion.
Survey’s conducted among parents and guardians have indicated that many among the populace still have underlying issues with public transportation when their children are concerned whilst 60 per cent would use alternative forms of transportation if it existed.
Should these recommendations be included in the government’s planning, it is estimated that 27,000 students will be seen riding in 930 school buses by the year 2035, which will significantly reduce traffic along routes known for school-day congestion.
The proposals also project a decrease in death and injuries through the increased usage of public transportation.
It also suggests for additional departments to manage these new initiatives to ensure that they remain usable for the public as well as involving the private sector and increasing the taxi fleets to 400 units.