In the three years since it began large-scale operations, RapidKL has made a difference around the Klang Valley. However, there have been complications, namely the frequent changes in routes and services.
It is known that a bus route needs approximately three years of life before it can be successful. Unfortunately, RapidKL seems to change their routes regularly.
For example, the ‘new routing system’ was introduced to Area 5 in September 2006. The first changes were made as early as November 2006.
This was followed by the massive revamp that took place on April 21, 2007, and other ‘rationalisation’ exercises that took place in August 2008. I have also been informed that a new change to RapidKL routes is being planned for May 2009.
Some reasons given by RapidKL for these changes include doing away with money-losing routes. But RapidKL has a mandate from the government to provide a public transport service.
Therefore, they should be working hard to plan their routes well (with on-going and effective public consultation) and maintain these routes for a minimum of three years.
Instead of changing their service, RapidKL should be looking at ways of reducing losses and increasing efficiency. One way they can do this is to address issues like fare evasion and pilferage.
RapidKL's daily pass lends itself to fair evasion, since the pass has no information on who the user is and users can board the bus by simply showing their pass to the driver.
Perhaps RapidKL should only make the daily pass option available to Touch 'N' Go users instead of all users.
Then there is the issue of pilferage. Yesterday, I observed a RapidKL bus driver on the route from Chow Kit to Segambut Dalam collect the ‘Utama’ daily passes from four passengers on four separate occasions.
He then gave these used passes to new passengers in exchange for their RM2, which he kept for himself. If the driver could collect RM8 in 45 minutes, it is likely that he could be collecting more money throughout the entire eight-hour shift.
I could have informed RapidKL immediately but they do not make it easy to report incidents such as this. Despite numerous suggestions over the past three years, RapidKL does not post any contact number or bus registration information inside the bus where passengers can see and use when need be.
If RapidKL wants to find ways to save money, they should remember that the passengers are its eyes and ears.
RapidKL should give passengers an opportunity to give immediate feedback and updates - not to mention incident reports - for the benefit of the users and the benefit of the service.
Incidentally, RapidPenang has made an effort to post this useful information on their buses. This is sad because RapidKL as the older company should be the one taking the lead.