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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Transport consultant lauds ministry’s plan to introduce on-demand transit vans


The government is planning an on-demand transit van service in the Klang Valley to enhance public transportation interconnectivity.

PETALING JAYA: Introducing an on-demand transit van service is a great first step towards addressing the first and last-mile issue many commuters in the country face, a transport consultant said.

Wan Agyl Wan Hassan, a former official with the now defunct Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), said the service would reduce the public’s reliance on private vehicles to get to the nearest bus stop or train station.

“Having this kind of service will definitely encourage people to use public transportation and leave their cars behind, potentially relieving traffic congestion,” he told FMT.

“The reality is, once commuters find themselves not being able to access the first point of service, such as the feeder buses, they will most likely decide to drive.”

On Dec 17, transport minister Loke Siew Fook said an on-demand transit van service, or demand-responsive transit, would be introduced in the Klang Valley to enhance public transportation interconnectivity.

He said the ministry would announce details on its implementation, which will target first and last-mile areas with limited access to public bus services. The ministry also wants Prasarana to cooperate with companies offering van-on-demand services to expand the initiative.

While Wan Agyl lauded the plan, he said efforts to provide commuters with more ways to access their nearest public transportation should not stop there.

“We have limited options to address the first and last-mile issue. We don’t have enough pedestrian walkways. We are still struggling to understand the need for micromobility and the infrastructure needed to accommodate that,” he said.

Transport consultant Rosli Khan suggested using school vans to offer these on-demand transit services, as the fleet often sat idle during school hours.

“Unless the transport ministry allows the (school van) operators to use the same vehicles to serve the general public, for the first and last mile operation, the fleet will remain underutilised,” he told FMT.

Rosli said these “minibuses” might be more effective in resolving first and last-mile connectivity issues than huge feeder buses which could not run in residential areas with narrow roads.

He also said the service must be cheap, reliable and safe, and provide almost door-to-door services with minimal walking distance for users.

Initiative wins praise from public

Data engineer Sabariah Hashim, 30, said the proposed service would benefit the elderly who usually had to rely on their family members to drive them to the train stations.

For bank officer Chin Wei Sam, the on-demand transit van service would mean that he would no longer need to drive and park his car at the Taman Pertama LRT station before taking the train to Petaling Jaya for work.

“If we want to wait for the bus, it will take some time. This van service may have a shorter waiting time compared with that of the bus,” he said.

Firdaus Zuhair, an intern at Bank Rakyat, raised concerns about the vans being stuck in traffic jams during peak hours.

“But it is better than taking the bus because buses are usually the slowest on the road,” he said, adding that he might use the service to avoid relying on e-hailing services. - FMT

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