KUCHING: Maintaining a high standard, passenger comfort and safety are the priority for Kuching Sentral bus terminal.
The management of the bus terminal, which officially opened on May 1, 2012, is working hard to ensure passengers get the best service and arrive at their destinations in comfort.
“Our objectives are to maintain a high standard in airport check-in services and tertiary facilities as a benchmark,” said Stanley Ong Phang Loon, operation manager of Sentral Solution, the company that manages the bus terminal operation.
“After some disagreement with the bus operator in the initial stage of their operation, everything went smoothly and from strength to strength to ensure we provide good service, appreciated by passengers,” added Stanley.
He told The Borneo Post that the bus terminal was willing to make improvements for people to change their perception of public transport as a mode to get around in Sarawak.
The bus terminal has 15 bus operators, three from Indonesia and 12 locals.
He added that there are 63 daily departures from the terminal with an average of 500 to 600 people boarding the buses to destinations in Sarawak.
“During the festive season, departures will increase, for instance, last Gawai 2012, there were 90 departures. The number of passengers travelling is four or five times more than on normal days, especially towards the peak period,” said Stanley.
He said they were coping well to provide the best service to passengers with 20 staff manning two shifts. They were training their staff to do better each time and focusing on the paging system.
“Our staff need to speak clearly on what information they want to give waiting passengers at the terminal for good time management prior to boarding their buses.”
He said they installed their public announcement (PA) system not only in the waiting area, but in the shopping and washroom areas to keep passengers alert on their schedules.
Stanley said they not only provided comfort to passengers but see to their overall safety and security by installing closed-circuit television (CCT).
“We will continue to improve on these areas and ensure the safety of our passengers and the public to prevent and deter crime,” Stanley said.
He said they would continue to ensure their standard of service got better each time with fewer complaints from passengers.
“Like the old adage ‘Rome was not built in a day’, we want to work with the bus operators, passengers, the public, authorities and management.”
There would cooperate with taxi operators and public buses to ferry passengers in and out of the terminal for those not using their own transport.
Stanley revealed that the bus operators want to standardise their fares and not exceed the ceiling prices.
“At the moment as part of the bus operators CSR programmes, the handicapped get 50 per cent discount on bus fares but there is still no special rate for those over 60 years or pensioners. A child under 12 years old will get 20 per cent discount.”
Stanley was optimistic they could provide a high standard of customer service at their terminal and go as far as Miri in Sarawak, Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and Pontianak in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Azean Salleh, a regular public transport user, said the new bus terminal had all the comfort she wanted and everything seemed to her liking.
Hailing from Daro, she was on leave and taking a coach to Sibu to see her family and friends.
“The fare to Sibu is fair at RM50 with no jam in this area and I can do a bit of shopping while waiting for my bus to leave,” she said.
A retired school teacher, Siaw Heng Hong, finds the public facilities to get people to the bus terminal needs to be relooked.
“I think this place is built on no man’s lands and very hard to get cheaper public transport unless you go outside the terminal,” he said.
Siaw suggested a free regular shuttle bus to get people in and out from the terminal to the city centre instead of relying on public transport.
“If possible the road lanes here must be wider to avoid traffic congestion in the future,” he added.
Potianak resident Ameng who is in the city for a holiday with his family was impressed with the cleanliness and comfort at the bus terminal.
“I am a frequent visitor to Kuching and I find this new terminal far better than the old one; and it’s very affordable for me to take a bus to Kuching.”
He hoped more people from Kuching would come to Potianak and that locals would appreciate the new terminal and its modern concept.
Kuching Sentral which includes a shopping arcade costs RM55 million to build and has become popular from residents in the vicinity. It is now a landmark at 6 1/2 mile Kuching-Penrisen Road.