Owning a vehicle has been somewhat of a milestone for most Malaysians. We study, get a job and immediately think about getting our first car or motorcycle.
There are many reasons we still don’t depend on public transport as our sole mode of getting around. Maybe it’s the unpredictable tropical weather or maybe we just like spending hours stuck in traffic. But transportation experts fault our public transport system for the rise in vehicle sales.
As reported by Free Malaysia Today (FMT), two experts claim that our poor public transport system has driven the increase in sales of private vehicles last year. In 2022, the Malaysian Automotive Association reported that 720,658 vehicles were sold which is a 41.6% rise from previous year. If you’re wondering if the COVID pandemic had anything to do with this influx, sales of vehicles were reported to be in the 580,000 to 666,000 range from 2010 to 2018.
Transport consultant Rosli Azad Khan told FMT that people prefer to buy cars despite the cost, because rail services like LRT, MRT and KTM are only accessible to those in the Klang Valley and other specific regions.
He called out the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) for poor planning and being out of touch with the needs of the public. However, he also noted APAD’s lack of capabilities and expertise to undertake individual studies for these areas.
“Local authorities should be responsible for public transport planning for cities outside the Klang Valley as they would be aware of the demand in their respective areas,” he said.
Another expert, Wan Agyl Hassan, former head of policy and planning at the Land Public Transport Commision, is of the opinion that there is a lack of integration among the different modes of transport, citing there should be more stations connecting the MRT, LRT and KTM services.
“This is due to bad design and a disregard for the requirements of pedestrians, such as walkways and sidewalks,” he said.
According to Wan Agyl, providing accessible and affordable transportation options and introducing policies to encourage the use of these alternative modes of transport are key in curbing car dependency.
He said that there should be a comprehensive plan for public transport, which takes into consideration the needs of senior citizens, the disabled and underprivileged families too. To achieve that, he said, the general public should be included in the planning process.
Further suggesting that the plan could include dedicated bus lanes, park and ride facilities and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.