Failure to consider the growing need for public transport in the face of growing urban population will further aggravate congestion in the city.
By T.K. Tamby
The Malaysian Land Transport Commission (SPAD) intends to push for public transport requirements in all development planning. This, says its chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, is part of efforts to increase the public transport modal share to 40 per cent by 2030, from 5 per cent currently.
This target was set under the National Land Public Transport Master Plan in October 2013. Syed Hamid (pic) pointed out that before the establishment of SPAD in 2010, there was no emphasis on the inclusion of an integrated public transport system in any planning for development.
SPAD, which comes under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, is the planning, regulatory and enforcement body which plays a central role in improving road and rail-based public and freight transport in the country.
Syed Hamid was speaking at the SPAD Land Public Transport Symposium 2013 held in Kuala Lumpur on December 2. Themed Integrated Transport and Sustainable Urbanisation, the symposium looked at the challenges in the land public transport eco-system.
The symposium, which was organised in partnership with Smart Vision International and International Centre for Integrated Urban Planning and Transport, brought together national and regional transportation and urban planning experts who emphasised on the benefits of efficient public transport systems to development and quality of life.
Syed Hamid said this was the first time SPAD was exploring a subject matter that goes beyond transport by linking it to sustainable urbanisation, pointing out that it is SPAD’s mission to push for an effective implementation of integrated public transport system so that does not remain mere political rhetoric.
“We have to bear in mind that Malaysia is already a highly urbanised society with about 70 per cent of our population of 28 million already in urban areas, and this will increase to 75 per cent by 2020.”
The current supply of public transport is not able to meet the demand of the growing urban population and failure to consider this growing need would further aggravate the congestion in the city, he said. The restricted mobility would in turn adversely impact not only the environment but also the economic well being and the quality of life of urban dwellers.
“To make our target of 40 per cent modal share for public transport, we need to ensure many things come together at the same time. These include a viable public transportation system, which sufficiently connects a vast majority of possible origins and destinations in a network; reliable transfers as well as seamless first mile and the last mile connectivity.”
Public transport must be competitive with the existing alternatives to draw more people to it, said Syed Hamid, pointing out that recent surveys by SPAD showed that currently door-to-door travelling time by bus in the greater Kuala Lumpur region is three times that by private cars, and travel time by urban rail such as the light rail transit, commuter and monorail is 1.5 times longer.
He said SPAD is working on bringing positive change through a combination of infrastructure expansion such as the ongoing MRT and LRT extension projects as well as the bus transformation programme through the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
Additionally, the commission is also pushing for the integration of all public transport modes by creating more interchange stations and improved feeder services and eventually moving into integrated ticketing.
All these come with huge capital cost and to ensure the financial viability of the transportation system and its affordability, the commission is encouraging transit-oriented development – mixed development which centres on transit stations that would push for an increase in the use of public transport.