Kuching SBST set to transform public bus services in 2018

KUCHING, Nov 16: Kuching will have better public bus services starting next year with ‘touch-n-go’ cards and on-board WiFi, and it might be free.

Announcing the Stage Bus Service Transformation (SBST), which is expected to commence in Kuching next year, Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing said it would enhance mobility within cities and towns in Sarawak and spur socio-economic development.

“The ultimate goal of SBST is to reduce traffic congestion, and improve the reliability and efficiency of existing bus services. If the pilot project in Kuching is deemed successful, the government may replicate it in other cities in Sarawak, in stages,” he said in his winding-up speech in the State Legislative Assembly today.

He stressed that the state government would consider providing free public bus services in the future, but subject to further feasibility studies as it involves high capital and operational costs.

Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing shows the proposed design of the Kuching SBST buses.

Kuching is one of five cities in Malaysia selected for this nationwide SBST programme. The five existing stage bus operators in Kuching have formed a consortium called Konsortium BBK Sdn Bhd as the local network operator.

Covering about 560 km, Kuching SBST will involve 15 trunk routes and 12 feeder routes with 130 new buses, increasing coverage from the existing coverage of 269km.

Bus frequency will range from 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hour intervals depending on the routes served. The fares imposed in SBST would be in accordance with Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) fare structure.

Masing said that SBST routes and stations would be planned to complement the route of the planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) in order to ensure seamless connectivity for commuters.

The contract period for this programme is five years plus three years where the agreement will be finalised by this month (November 2017).

Masing added that it would take nearly one year for the buses to be manufactured and fitted with electronic ticketing systems with ‘touch-n-go’ card compliance, on-board WiFi, GPS (global positioning system) tracking and on-board CCTV for security, before they could be put into operation. — Dayak Daily