Here are some facts on public transport. Hong Kong with a population of six million on a tiny island has a good efficient public transport system. So too has Singapore. In KL we only talk of a 1.3 million population spread out between a huge area of KL and Petaling Jaya.
What will be an efficient public transport solution for KL? First of all, declare KL, Johor Baru and Penang as Special Traffic Zones with the following status:
1. Have at least two companies operating a public bus service so that they can compete with each other. They must be awarded the tender through an open system. Maybe one can be given to Umno and the other to the MCA and the public will judge how efficient they are.
The government can waive import duties for the buses, grant the two companies pioneer status for three years besides tax incentives for public-listed companies to invest.
2. Have Traffic Restricted Zones during peak hours that is between 7am to 9.30am and 5pm to 7pm. All vehicles entering these highly congested roads pay a high premium. Commuters into the city can be dropped at the main arteries leading into the cities by mini-buses and rail transport systems.
From there, the two stage bus services can load the heavy human traffic into the city during peak hours.
3. Open contraflow lanes (reserved lanes for buses moving in a direction opposite to that of the flow of traffic in the other lanes) so that travelling by bus is faster, cheaper and more comfortable than driving (this will also do away with the need for more highways and flyovers, saving millions of ringgit).
4. Re-introduce the mini-buses to bring in commuters form the suburban areas but not into city. Bus chassis can be duty free to make it lucrative enough for retired or middle age people to run the mini-bus business.
5. Build more comfortable rail stations and bus stops (this can be privatised and the government can save millions)
6. Implement the above in stages so that you can minimise errors and fine tune the system. (We can also borrow ideas from Deng Xiao Peng's Special Economic Zones which have Special Traffic Zones).
8) Form a centralised Traffic Control Board by merging key JKR and Transport Ministry divisions and the traffic police. This will enable better streamlining of the public transport sector and system.
So why is our government not doing this? Because of self-conflicting government policies.
1. The privatisation of highway projects which are all in the hands of cronies and;
2. The National Automotive Policy (NAP) which forces us to buy expensive cars due to our inefficient public transport system.
Let's not forget the lucrative toll collection and the selling of the Smart tags, the latter of which is in the hands of yet another crony.
The Malaysian government is not stupid, if not how could it have built the world class Twin Towers. Yet why does it not have the expertise to build a world class public transport system? It is all because of the reasons stated above.
We don't have to spend millions of ringgit, we just need to implement the measures above. They have been proven in Taiwan, China and many other countries. And don't tell me Malaysia doesn't have the talent to manage an efficient bus system.
Try Lim Goh Tong, the YTL Group, Tony Fernandez and the many others who know how to run and manage a minibus. If we think hard, we can come up with our very own Malaysian way of solving our transport problem.
If after all the headhunts, a suitable candidate still can't be found, then sack the current transport minister and appoint me!