THERE is no plan for the state government to take over the public bus transport service in Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, said Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong in his winding-up speech yesterday.
“This is because public transport is a federal government responsibility and the federal government is embarking on the implementation of the Stage Bus Service Transformation (SBST) Programme to improve the delivery of public bus service.
“Kuching has been selected as one of the seven cities or towns in Malaysia for the pilot project,” he explained.
According to Manyin, the SBST Programme is expected to be implemented and in operation by end of 2015.
“The government will determine and fix the number and type of buses, routes and frequency of services. The operators will be paid to deliver service in terms of vehicle kilometre covering a contracted network in specified areas determined by the government.
“Currently, five existing stage bus operators in Kuching are forming a consortium to undertake the project. The government has in principle agreed to appoint the consortium as the network operator, and both parties are in negotiation to finalise the contract agreement.
“Both parties have conducted joint verification of the routes identified to determine viability and travel time for each
“A total of 13 trunk routes and 12 feeder routes with an approximate total route length of 500 km have been identified,” he told the august house.
The provision of a more efficient and timely stage bus service is expected to increase the use of public transport, reduce dependency on private transport, and help alleviate traffic problems in the city.
The state would also propose to the federal government to extend the programme to other major cities or towns in Sarawak once the Kuching SBST Programme is found to be successful, said the minister.