COMMENT | Referring to the press conference held by the Transport Minister yesterday, Transit strongly believes the decision to dissolve the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad) and transfer staff to the Road Transport Department (RTD) is not the best approach to meet the needs of the public transport industry, public transport users, and our nation's transport needs.
In 2009, Spad was handed the responsibility to develop long-term and integrated land public transport planning in Malaysia, and indeed is the first agency to do so here.
Since Spad was created in 2009 and launched in 2010, they created the National Land Public Transport Master Plan, introduced improved MyBas service in five cities, made a great effort to improve regulations, service, quality and enforcement standards, and begun reforming the taxi industry.
Spad also paved the way for the planning of the Sunway BRT, LRT extensions, Skypark Rail Link, Bandar Utama-Klang LRT, MRT lines, and the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail.
While Spad has not been able to achieve everything we had hoped for, we confidently say that it has accomplished more in the past eight years than the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board accomplished in its 20 plus years of operation.
For years, we have not had proper land public transport planning that is integrated with land use and development. Instead of efficient public transport-oriented development, we have development-oriented public transport.
We see that decisions made have been influenced by political views rather than evidence, and ad hoc develop-connect-and-fix concepts instead of the integrated approach we need.
These approaches have created the problems we are currently facing – high detour index, traffic congestion, mislocated public transport stops/stations, an inadequate public transport system, an urban transport system which is unfriendly to non-motorised vehicles, unnecessary spending on transport infrastructure development, and urban sprawl.
Transit respects the wishes of the new Malaysian government to simplify our government and lower costs, while implementing the promises in their manifesto.
Yet we cannot be silent about the sudden decision to dissolve Spad and transfer their very professional staff to other government departments. For many staff who are fasting during Ramadhan, the suddenness of the decision and transfer announcement has caused great upset and disappointment at a very important time for them and their families.
Transit believes that the work Spad started in 2010 has not yet been completed, and we urge the government to maintain the research on integration of urban planning and transport planning and empower Spad staff to continue working on developing sustainable bus networks – fixed route and flexible route – which we believe is the future for land public transport system in our major and smaller urban areas.
Finally, we would like to remind that ‘rebuilding our nation’ will not be an easy task. It is very important that governance, policy and public service decisions be made carefully, based on our shared values as Malaysians. This includes the decisions that will affect the future of public transport.
TSAQEEF MOHD is spokesperson and MOAZ YUSUS AHMAD adviser of Transit, which seeks to balance transport, development, and urban planning.
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