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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Mar 2: Sarawak has achieved another milestone for being the first state in Malaysia to operate battery-powered electric buses.
The much awaited e-bus will be free for all domestic users and foreign tourists starting tomorrow (Mar 3) covering 54 bus stops loop from Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak (DUN) to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.
Other stops include Kuching South City Council’s Stutong Community Market, Kuching International Airport, Malaysia-China Friendship Park, Old Kuching Heritage Trail, Sentral Express Bus Terminal, private medical centres, educational institutions and various shopping malls.
The e-bus also has its own App called ‘Kuching Metro’ which enables bus users to have real time monitoring of the location of the bus and the estimated time of bus arrival.
The current four units of electric buses service from DUN to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre has an estimated interval time of two hours per bus.
Being one of the many initiatives by Sarawak government to focus on sustainable development, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the idea of electric city bus service for the locals and visitors in Kuching will definitely provide convenient and free transportation alternatives by connecting some of the important visitor destinations in the capital city.
The first trial run back in March 2019 covered some 26 bus stops loop from the Old Court House to ICOM Square was well-received by commuters who commended on the free, innovative, green energy bus services.
“However, a single bus was limited in its service and route coverage. It was also subject to the risk of service disruption due to breakdown and maintenance.
“Therefore, in order to have free electric city bus service that is punctual, reliable and covering longer routes, my Ministry proposed to have four units of new buses to cover longer routes from the original 26 bus stops to 54 bus stops,” Karim said at the launch this morning.
Karim, who is also the Minister of Youth and Sports Sarawak added that Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is one of the most popular visitor destinations in Kuching.
The initiative to implement electric city tourist buses was also in line with the ministry’s focus on responsible tourism.
This he said, was due to the fact that the electric city buses uses rechargeable batteries and thus it helps to reduce carbon footprint and air pollution.
All the electric city buses are equipped with the latest advance technology like the automated bus stop announcement system, real time broadcast content control system and video passengers counter.
It is also equipped with the wheelchair facility and priority seat, free WiFi and six CCTV cameras installed in every bus for the safety of passengers.
“The latest feature that this electric city bus provides is the folding bikes area where bicycle enthusiasts can hop on the bus with their folding bike on board.
“I found it quite interesting because you can now cycle from your house to the bus stop and just hop on this electric bus with your bike to your next destination,” Karim said in amusement, adding that all bicycle enthusiasts can use the facility provided.
However, cyclist need to take note that each bus can only accommodate two units of folding bikes at one time.
Meanwhile, Karim assured that the ministry have plans to extend similar electric bus services to other cities in the state such as Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.
“This e-bus is not just for Kuching but also other cities as well in order to provide green transportation alternative for our visitors.
“There are several studies and processes which we need to look into, such as the city plan, tourist spots, housing area and so on,” he said. — DayakDaily