Sunday, November 28

New era for public transport begins with Rapid Kuching


KUCHING: The launch of Rapid Kuching city bus services yesterday was seen as a first step to increasing the efficiency of the weak public transport service here.Kuching City folk have long called for a complete overhaul of the city public transportation system and Rapid Kuching has promised to re-brand the transportation system with an innovative and dynamic approach.

Speaking at the launch, Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said: “The public transport must be entirely revamped. Now we have a company that would provide quality service while exploring the beauty of Kuching at the same time.

“The city must have an efficient and systematic public transport, one that can give added value to the city.”

Abang Johari said that as the ministry was close to improving the transport service system, it would continue doing studies to increase efficiency.

“We need to bring back the people’s confidence in our public transport service. In the past, the (bus) frequency had always been our liability especially during peak hours.

“Now we need a service where there would only be a five-minute time frame between the buses.

“If the buses are on time, people actually prefer to board public transportation as it would be less stressful during peak traffic hours.

“In addition, public transportation would also save money as the commuters do not have to worry about parking fees and car fuel. People will rely heavily on buses and this would give less traffic congestion,” he explained.

Stressing that mobility was very important in big cities, Abang Johari said that Rapid Kuching had plans to link all areas in the city.

“As a start, the company would cover two routes. As the route coverage increases in the future, the vision is to complete each route in 10 minutes.

“We will try to establish a linkage between city centre, transport hubs and all major housing areas such as Tabuan Jaya, Muara Tebas, Batu Kawah, Petra Jaya including the Matang area.

“Once we have established this, we can then realise our plan to cover the routes with a five-minute frequency,” Abang Johari stated.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference after the launch, he applauded Rapid Kuching’s move in starting the service, saying the company was responding to the people’s need.

He assured that the government would try its best to support the company as it realise that the project required massive investments.

On the importance of developing the infrastructure, Abang Johari said: “The service sector has contributed up to 80 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Speaking at the launch earlier, Rapid Kuching chief executive officer Henry Lai said the introduction of the service would reduce the city commuter’s dependence on private vehicles, thus would improve the city’s traffic congestion problem.

He said fewer vehicles running meant helping to realise the federal government initiative of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 per cent by the year 2020.

He added that all fleets would be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) and Close Circuit Television (CCTV) for tracking and monitoring the speed while providing security movement for the commuters.

“In the future, we will introduce a Fleet Timing Information (FTI) to enable commuters to plan their journey schedule by sending an SMS to obtain arrival time of buses at their preferred bus stop.

“Besides, more routes would be introduced and we will work closely with all city councils to improve our service,” Lai stated.

Rapid Kuching would be up and running from Saturday, April 3.

Two buses will be servicing the route from 7am to 2.30pm daily.

The route would start from Kubah Ria to Bako (National Park) and vice versa, and passing areas such as Senari, Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), Bintawa, Pending, Kuching South City Council (MBLS), Waterfront, Jalan Kulas and Jalan Muhibbah among others.

Among those at the launch held at the Sarawak Tourism Complex yesterday were Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) mayor Abang Mohamad Atei Abang Medaan, Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg, China Consulate General’s consul general representative Liu Hai Bo and his Brunei counterpart Kamsani Noordin.