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Monday, August 29, 2011

Traffic masterplan needs PM’s green light

Any plans to change Malaysia's traffic problems needs to go through Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak first.

INTERVIEW

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s stamp of approval is needed before the country gets rid of its burgeoning traffic congestion.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Syed Hamid Albar said the upcoming Public Transport Master Plan needed the green light from Najib before it could be nationally adopted.

The Cabinet must have a look at the plan, he told FMT during an interview last week.

“After we have submitted the plan, the prime minister will have a look at it and pass it to the Cabinet. If he disagrees with it, then we will submit our objections. It’s up to the prime minister to make his decision. The final word is with him,” he added.

Syed Hamid said that SPAD was not an autonomous government department. Citing the SPAD Act 2010, he explained that the commission still came under the prime minister’s purview.

The masterplan is expected to see a September release. It would supposedly consist of a series of guidelines aimed at solving the congestion problem.

Beyond that, little is known about the masterplan’s actual details, with SPAD and other government officials seemingly more focused on the upcoming My Rapid Transit (MRT).

During its official July launch, SPAD confirmed that the MRT, through its parent programme – the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) – was more important than the masterplan.

At the time, Syed Hamid said that the MRT was part of the masterplan, but declined to reveal further details.

“I would not be able to tell you what we are going to adopt… Let us complete what we are looking at, then we will submit the masterplan to the government,” he said.

The masterplan, Syed Hamid said, would also chart the course for individual cities’ transport plans.

“The masterplan is a very good framework. Once you have it for Kuala Lumpur, it would not be the end. After that, there would be local plans… with the general guidelines based on the masterplan,” he added.

Aware of stage buses

Nevertheless, the SPAD chairman appeared confident of the plan, adding that it contained a myraid of proposals and concerns from various transport associations across the country.

“We are looking at all these issues in the masterplan,” he said, touching on city buses and their trundle towards extinction.

“Our stage buses are all making losses… The situation is that they’re not making money… So now we are studying it… (and realise) that there is a need for a new way of handling the stage buses.

“So we are studying it (the problem) and are going to ready the masterplan and make proposals (solutions over the stage buses) to the government,” Syed Hamid said.

According to the Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA), many non-Klang Valley city bus operations were in dire straits.

Due to rising equipment and diesel costs, many bus companies had to close shop as a result, leaving their regulars stranded.

One prime example is the Seremban Town Service (STS), which abandoned most of its routes, and chopped off its bus fleet by at least 80%.

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