Resounding no to impending price increase

THE announcement that RapidKL will increase its bus fares has drawn criticism from the public.

Many commuters feel that not only will it add to their burden but also that RapidKL services are not up to par to begin with.

Erica Lim is one who will feel the pinch soon. For now, the 29-year-old pays RM2 for a daily bus pass.

When the new fare is implemented, she will have to pay RM3.80 a day, or RM84 a month, to travel to and from KL Sentral and Phileo Damansara.

She said this increase was unacceptable as the buses were not punctual.

“Many a time, I have to wait for 45 minutes before a RapidKL bus comes along. I will rather take other buses or share a cab with my colleagues so that I can reach home faster,” the animator from Kajang said.

Network scheduler Agnes Sewe also has to pay more to get from Subang Jaya to Asia Jaya for work.

“I only pay RM2 a day now. When the fare is increased to RM3.80, I will consider driving to work instead,” the 24-year-old said.

Although RapidKL is introducing the Monthly Integrated Travel Card at RM50 for students in uniform, the disabled and those above 60 years old, secondary school student Wong Shook Yuen would not be able to benefit from this promotion.

Now, she pays RM1 a day to go to school and then back home in Petaling Jaya. She will have to pay RM2 instead when the new fare is implemented.

Given that she has to go to school for only 22 days a month, her monthly travel bill will come up to RM44 - RM6 less than the cost of the RM50 monthly pass.

Her mother, Lily Foo, felt that the price increase was planned without taking the people’s welfare into consideration.

While this announcement focuses on the bus fares, frequent LRT users are not spared either.

The price of the Monthly Integrated Travel Card, which allows them to travel on all local, urban and main buses as well as Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT, will be increased from RM135 to RM150 from Sept 1 onwards.

Operations executive Mohd Jaafar Azman has to fork out RM15 more to buy the card which he uses daily to travel back and forth between Wangsa Maju and Bandar Utama.

He has been commuting like this for nine years and he remembers when the fare was less than RM100 per month.

“The fare increased gradually over the years. I hope with this increase, the services will be upgraded - there should be more trains serving the rush hour crowd.

“I have to reach the Wangsa Maju station before 7.15am in order to catch a train. If not, I will have to wait for at least three trains before I manage to board one,” the 40-year-old said.

Another commuter, who wished to be identified as Mei, described the increase as “terrible.”

“This is the time for saving and not spending, and with this increase, I have to be even more prudent with my living expenses

“We take buses and avoid taxis because the fare is cheaper, but there are times when we are forced to flag down a taxi when RapidKL keeps us waiting for too long,” the 45-year-old said.

She felt that the Government should emulate the transportation system in Singapore to provide better facilities.

Selangor MCA Youth Chief Dr Kow Cheong Wei strongly objected to the increase as it was untimely, especially during this economic downturn.

“The fare wasn’t raised during the fuel price increase and now that the fuel price has dropped, I don’t see the reason for bringing up the fare.

“Furthermore, the bus drivers do not get a bigger paycheque with this fare increase. Even if the hike is inevitable, the increase is too steep. The government should not agree to this price increase,” he said.

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) secretary-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said the RapidKL management should resign as they did not understand the people.

“These are the people who do not have their own cars and are struggling to make ends meet.

“One of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 11 gifts was to give rebates to toll users – that only benefits those who have cars and not the ordinary people who take public transport,” he said.