Transport Minister Anthony Loke is back on the street, riding the rails of the Klang Valley’s public transportation network to see for himself where improvements can/should/need to be made.
This time he takes a trip on the KTM Komuter, armed with a face mask and a helpful assistant (or two) to take pictures. Has he bitten off more than he can chew?
Late last week, Loke boarded the KTM Komuter train with the intention to inspect the facilities at KL Sentral, train timeliness and overall service quality, as well as that of his destination: Bandar Tasik Selatan.
From the get-go, things didn’t seem to be going well with one of the escalators to the platform being out of order. Needless to say, the rest of the journey was more or less similar to the experience faced by many Malaysians that rely on this train service for their commute.
It was unclear if his trip was taken during the peak hours when everyone was either going to work or coming back home, but platform and train did not seem overly crowded.
He also noted the fact that KTM Komuter schedules were not clearly available to passengers with just a simple printout table in small text meant to convey all the train arrival information. The old but digital signboards on platforms are also no longer in use with a simple QR code slapped on which links to a train schedule visible on a web page.
Speaking of schedules, for years on end Malaysians have had to suffer through the KTM Komuter's lack of frequency and punctuality, not to mention many examples of poorly maintained stations.
Even during peak hours in 2022, trains tend to arrive every 30 minutes (if they're on schedule) while off-peak hours can see passengers waiting upwards of 1 hour or more for a train to arrive. Furthermore, it has become common for trains to be stuck along its route while it waits for a clearance signal to proceed, further delaying everyone's journey.
Loke made mention of these delays caused by the still-ongoing upgrading works (Klang Valley Double Track Electrification - KDVT Phase 1) that has faced numerous hiccups as well as the KDVT Phase 2 project that has stalled outright.
Clearly, fixing the KTM Komuter service will be a much more difficult task than remedying the Kelana Jaya line LRT.
While the latter is in otherwise relatively high repute save for the more recent slip ups as a surge of citizens turned to public transportation en masse after being required to return to the office, the average Malaysian will struggle to think of any stretch of time that the KTM Komuter can be described as even half decent.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.