It is time for the federal government to let the Penang government take over Rapid Penang.
Similarly, all decisions pertaining to Penang public transport should be transferred from the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board to the Penang government. Check out this report in Kwong Wah.
A Penang Public Transport Commission must be set up to oversee the development of public transport infrastructure in the state.
Rapid Penang suffered a loss of RM10.5m in 2009 (The Star). While public transport is a social obligation and should not be viewed as a profit-seeking venture, there is a lot of room for improvement in Rapid Penang, as pointed out in the Auditor General’s report (The Star).
For one thing, effectiveness could be improved if routes were modified and more feeder buses and transit stations implemented. An integrated ticketing system could work wonders.
One of the ways forward to dramatically increase ridership would be to slash the monthly season ticket fare. These season tickets should be made widely available at restaurants, convenience stores, phone top-up outlets and mini-markets. As far as possible, most tickets should be paid for by passengers even before they board the bus via prepaid season tickets or turnstiles at major bus-stops.
Rapid Penang should also work with the numerous private factory bus transport operators to maximise efficiency and streamline routes.
The Penang Bridge too should be given to the Penang government to manage and the surplus from toll collections used to finance and subsidise public transport in the state.