Rapid Penang is blocked in its bid to expand its bus service on the mainland
The Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) has rejected an application by Rapid Penang to transfer 30 buses from RapidKL for use in the mainland, reports The Star today. This is the same CVLB that is largely responsible for the sorry state of public transport in Penang.
CVLB chairman Markiman Kobiran said the board had to reject the application because Seberang Perai currently had adequate bus services provided by Rapid Penang and other bus companies. Oh yeah, everyone is satisfied with the bus service on the mainland? Between the CVLB and Rapid Penang, I think I would trust the latter’s judgement more.
Get this, CVLB is blocking the transfer because they are afraid of “unhealthy competition” among the bus companies:
“If Rapid Penang brings in more buses, it will jeopardise the original intention of improving public transport, and create unhealthy competition among these bus companies,” he said via a telephone interview from Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Unhealthy for whom? Rapid Penang is a federal government-owned entity based in Penang. And if they feel that mainland Penang needs additional buses – and I am sure the public will be delighted to have more buses on the mainland – why is the CVLB blocking the move? Surely a little more competition would help to improve the bus service and benefit long-suffering ordinary passengers.
Why is the CVLB so concerned about the effect it will have on the other private bus companies? Who owns or has interests in these private bus companies anyway? I think we can guess. So we have to ask, whose interests is the CVLB protecting – the private bus companies’ or the public interest?
Says blog reader Moaz Yusuf Ahmad:
The government has created RapidKL and RapidPenang (GLC Operators) and Prasarana (GLC Asset Owner) but has not created Local Authorities to control public transport in the Klang Valley and Penang.
Hence, the GLCs must operate low-demand and social routes at high frequencies, maintain a website and call centre, and provide a certain level of service (ultimately, losing money) while the private operators get to operate profitable routes at low frequencies, are expected to provide nothing to customers and can get away with extremely poor service and maintenance.
It does not make sense that government-funded operators are losing money while private operators maintain profitability?
Remember, these 30 buses from RapidKL are just a temporary measure. Rapid Penang has already order 200 European-made buses, of which 100 are meant to be used on the mainland on more than a dozen new routes.
These buses are scheduled to be delivered in January. Is the CVLB going to block the deployment of the 100 new buses to the mainland as well?
At the end of the day, decisions about what is best for the bus service in Penang are best made in Penang and not in KL. That is why Rapid Penang must eventually come under the Penang local authorities or Penang state government perhaps via a Penang State public transport or bus regulatory body. It would be ideal if the ownership of Rapid Penang is eventually transferred to Penang as well.