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Pushing for better public transport
By Bernard See (

PENANG: Irked by the bad public transport system in Penang, a coalition of citizens and 22 non-governmental organisations wants the state government to improve the system.

More than 50 representatives, including the disabled, from the Citizens for Public Transport coalition turned up at the state assembly building in Penang yesterday to present their case.

They met with state Local Government and Traffic Manage-ment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan who himself admitted that the system needed an overhaul.

Blind civil servant Nordin Hanafiah, 40, said the bus service which was good some10years was so bad now that he had to wait for more than an hour for a bus to go to Komtar from his home in Sungai Nibong.

"I cannot fully depend on the bus service. Sometimes I take a taxi which can cost up to RM20 for a return trip and this is extremely costly for me.

"There are more than 500 sight-impaired people on the Penang island who depend on public transport daily.

"They try to live a normal a life but poor public transport has prevented this," Nordin said.

Sustainable Transport and Envi-ronment for Penang (STEP) co-ordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said a decade of promise to improve the public bus service by the state and the Entrepreneur Development Mi-nistry had come to naught.

"We are considering legal action against the bus companies under the Road Transport Act 1987. Certain statutory requirements such as the need to follow routes have not been met," he said.

Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Lee Hack Teik said it was a fact that mini bus drivers did not follow the predetermined routes.

"They go wherever they like to pick up passengers. This happens because the drivers work on a commission system, earning more if they pick up more passengers.

"This must stop if the public transport system were to improve."

Penang Heritage Trust council member Ahmad Chik suggested that mega projects such as the second link and Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) be scrapped and the money used to improve the public transport system.

Dr Teng said there was a need to rearrange the present bus routes and conduct a study to find out if mini buses were suitable for use for public transportation.

"The public transport system is being run by private companies and they are competing with each other.

"It is only natural that they have to cut corners when faced with financial difficulties," he said.

Source: The Star

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