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Public Transport in Malaysia

As much as I despise the lifeless living in Singapore, I have to admit that their public transport system is near flawless. You can argue that the country is tiny, hence easy to plan and control; but it doesn't give anyone any reason to operate their public transport service horrendously bad just because it is bigger!

I have now been stuck in Kuala Lumpur for 3 months. Having sold my old car before I left the country years ago, I now have to depend on various public transport to get around the city. And what can I say? NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

Thanks to the heritage of my earthling foster family, I am temporarily (hopefully, fingers-crossed!) residing in a God-forsaken place where I have to take 4 different public transports just to get to work (the same applies to getting home): bus-train-train-bus! There are at least 6 hours spent on travelling everyday, and it's far worse than getting the bus from Southampton to Derby!

Why? You may ask.

Of course, the residential area being inaccessible is one reason and that is an inevitable fact; but these public transports are not well-connected or well-organised is the real problem. Take Rapid KL, the first part of my travel quadrilogy, a bus service I have to take to get to the nearest train station. Given the name, one would imagine it being bloody good in its service but I would call it Rabies KL if I can. This is one of those bus services in the world that do not run according to schedule. If the bus gets here, it gets here; if it doesn't, you have to wait. You'll never know when you'll get to board the bus. Even if the bus does come to your stop, especially if it is the terminal, you really have to wait. The driver will wait till the bus is full, and till he has collected what he considers enough of bus fare for the trip. I have not once, but many times, waited on a crowded, stationary bus for at least 40 minutes before the driver was happy to get the bus moving. No matter how much you plead or beg or shout at him, nothing will work. And I won't even comment on the driving.

Then it's the KTM train service (operated by the oldest train company in Malaysia, Keretapi Tanah Melayu) which is the only [slow] train that connects me to the next train (so that I can be connected to yet another stupid Rapid KL bus). Another public transport that provides a schedule for reasons I cannot comprehend. It has less than 1% punctuality, often stops in the middle of the track just to "wait for the signals given by the other side" (huh?), has poorly-constructed and -built stations that let you wait (again) for ages just to get out, and cancels half the time.

All the trains in Malaysia are not inter-connected, in the sense that you will have to get out of one station and walk (if you're lucky) to another, pay for another ticket just to board the next train. They may all accept one travel card called Touch n Go, but hey listen, no discount whatsoever for using that card. The only benefit is, you don't have to queue for an hour to get a ticket; but you may need to queue when you have to top up the card's value at the [selected limited] stations.

The frequency of these public transports is pretty low on its own; what's more, with all that cancellations, delays, and "schedules according to the driver's discretion"; when a bus or train finally emerges, it is often overflowed with passengers. Can't bear to be squished? Wait for the next one then... By the time I get home (or to the office) I would be so tired I couldn't even speak.

Once in a while, I do get to accomplish one of my travel quadrilogies within 2 hours (gasp!) and that's when I don't have to wait more than 15 minutes for every bus and train. See? The whole journey, though troublesome, can be done in much shorter time than 3 hours ONLY if all these public transports are on schedule (if they have any) -- a.k.a. operated properly.

No wonder almost everyone in Malaysia 'needs' to own a car.


Anonymous said…
I was stuck at Mid Valley on Friday (14 march), when KTM announced that there was no train service that evening, due to some "problem".

I belong to the minority car-less group of people in Malaysia, who have to depend on the public transport to get home - in my case - Kajang!

I ended up queuing for ages to get a Rapid KL bus (what else) all the way to KL city centre, then another bus to my area. I can't remember how long it took me to finally get home.

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