Ministry to set up public transport committees in all divisions to study traffic congestion

Lee (centre) speaking at the press conference.

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SIBU, March 11: Every division in the state will have a public transport committee helmed by the respective Resident to study how to reduce traffic congestion in urban centres.

Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin who met with bus company operators today revealed the committee members would encompass stakeholders from land, water and air transport sectors.

“The committee will be helmed by the respective Resident and members would include associations for bus, taxi, lorry and expressboat operators. The committee will feedback to us actual information from the ground,” he said at a press conference here.

His ministry would collect traffic congestion data and devise plans on how to address the problem through public transport services.

Lee pointed out that traffic congestion could be mitigated if more people opt to use public transport such as buses and provided that the bus services available are efficient.

“We want to encourage more people to take the bus rather than use their own transport,” he added.

The minister revealed he had personally experienced for himself the efficiency of bus services in the state as he had used buses in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

“In Kuching, I took a bus from Stutong to the hospital. It took the bus one hour and 45 minutes to arrive at the destination due to traffic congestion,” he added.

Earlier today, he had taken a bus from the Sibu bus terminal to Jalan Lanang and back, using the opportunity to chat with fellow passengers to learn about their experiences and get their input. He noted that the public was generally open towards taking public transport if it was convenient, accessible and affordable.

However, he acknowledged that the decreasing number of stage buses and limited service posed a challenge towards increasing public take-up.

Citing Sibu, he noted the number of stage buses had dropped from more than 200 to just 39 which are operated by three companies, and that low passenger loads had contributed to this.

“They (bus service operators) are also facing a shortage of qualified drivers. To employ drivers, they would have to spend RM6,000 to help them get a Class E driving licence first and later the public service vehicle licence,” he said, adding these will be among the issues which his ministry will take into account during its data gathering. — DayakDaily