Monday, September 26

Improving overall public bus service more important issue — Chong

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KUCHING: The state government ought to improve the overall public bus transportation system rather than turning to hydrogen-powered buses to transform public transportation by running on clean energy to protect the environment.

Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen said what’s crucial is for the service of public buses here to be improved first and foremost.

“We may have a few hydrogen-powered buses to show that the state is being eco-friendly but what is the use of that when the public transportation in Kuching is literally non-existent and ineffective,” he told a press conference at state DAP headquarters here yesterday.

He was commenting on the announcement made by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in Melaka on Sunday that Kuching would be the first city in the country to have hydrogen-powered buses on its roads when its order of three such buses arrive from China by July next year.

Abang Johari said the project was part of the hydrogen research and development programme undertaken by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), and the acquisition of the emission-free buses a part of a long-term plan to ensure that Sarawak’s public transportation system is run on clean energy in accordance with current trend to protect the environment.

Chong, who is also state DAP chairman, hoped that the chief minister could be more pragmatic and practical when it comes to the implementation of his policies.

“It may sound very good that Kuching will be the first to implement this hydrogen-powered buses but at the moment, the public bus service in Kuching is horrible so I think the government ought to improve this first.”

He suggested that the government heeds DAP’s proposal to take over all public bus companies here, and that the number of buses be increased to 300 units.

“Currently, there are only 100 buses serving the whole of Kuching, and that’s not enough. By increasing the number to 300 buses, they can provide free bus rides for the people in order to change their commuting habits in the first three to five years.”

He said the secret to a successful public transportation required four ‘ingredients’, namely, regularity, punctuality, comfort and affordability.

“We can’t find these four features in the present public transport system, and that is the reason why nobody wants to take the bus. They would rather buy a car to move around.”