Transportation: Now and Then

There's no bus in Gensokyo

There's no bus in Gensokyo

When we talk about transportation in Malaysia, what do we expected and what do we actually got? The most common thing we heard is they suck. Which means, our transportation services in this very country is not comforting. Arguably, we have one of the best highways or freeways in the region although mostly are centralized near Kuala Lumpur. Even the best public transportation services are in the capital city of Malaysia.

It’s certainly a fallacy to say that our transportation services are not improving after all these years. Which is why I dislike to hear this from people who completely hated the ruling government so much. The improvements are many. Trains have been upgraded. Centralized company for buses and taxis. More stations were built and there are even big terminals. For an example upon expansions and upgrades that have been built, the recently built Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) could accommodate more buses and people. The place is also nearby to LRT and KTM Komuter stations which make traveling much more easier compared to centralized Pudu station which was the only place to get a north-bound or south-bound bus.

But day by day, the users of these transportation have increased and larger capacity of space is required. Hence, we always heard how our country’s transportation suck, or rather, not enough. One day, TBS station may become full of people. From a census conducted several years ago, there were about 2 millions people in Kuala Lumpur who were not Malaysians. This was excluding tourists. Means, foreign workers. Several more people were those who lived outside the city and only came here for working. Just for your knowledge, there are only around 1.7 millions KL-ites. Yeah, the proper residents of Kuala Lumpur are just that. By ignoring Kuala Lumpur itself, there are other major districts in Selangor which could simply on par, I believe, with what the capitol city of Malaysia have. Which, of course, is the center of every buses and trains station. Recently, the announcement of the development of the new MRT lines make some people felt relief. Then again, let us look again at a few things of the problem here.

As we all can guess, the transportation problem was due to the increasing number of people. With more big buildings being spawned in the middle of the metro area that created more accommodation for jobs and living spaces, people need to move. Bigger and wider roads have been built as more are still under construction. Not everyone could acquire a vehicle though. Be it a cheap car or even a motorcycle. This is where the fun part begin.

Usually, we have been receiving a some sort of information that publicize the government for being a dick for not having cheaper cars to the citizens. As Proton and Perodua have the absolute control on vehicle sales in the country and getting the priorities over other foreign companies, they have been blamed for limiting the choices that people can make. The price of the vehicles are high compared to other countries. For instance, Indonesia does make their own vehicles and actually cheaper for sales compared to what we Malaysians can get. Yet, our car loans are slightly more easier to get in Malaysia as you won’t get such liberty to owe banks some money to purchase vehicles like this in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

When it comes to vehicles, the fuel price is something that could turn the country upside down if the government didn’t handle it carefully. So, Malaysia is said to have one of the cheapest fuel prices in the region. Yeah, compared to Singapore and Thailand, sure. But whatever comparison you want to say for over the years, the prices won’t stay there all the time. Recently, Indonesia fuel price hike because of they couldn’t get enough subsidies to be given to their own citizens made the people unrest. While the main media didn’t show much, we can tell the public demonstration by the people could match to that of Bersih in Malaysia. Yet, for Malaysia, the government could even reduce the prices albeit pretty much insignificant. How does that happen?

A few years ago, we can buy the vehicles pretty much cheaper than before. RM 5,000 might be that big but for some people, that’s simply could reduce the burden to pay for the debts to the bank. For a Proton Saga that priced, let say, RM 35,000, you only need to pay for RM 30,000. That’s pretty something. That would lead to a question, why the government make people buy more cars? Wouldn’t that make the roads to be more congested? Wouldn’t that also make the road accidents percentage go higher? One of the reasons because, they don’t really have that big pressure from the people to create more public transportation services. They do have the pressure just a little bit less. “To ease the burden of the people” they said when announcing that price reduces for vehicles.

To create public transportation requires a lot of money. Service like this is not for money making. If you think that by having such grandeur train and bus services would make the companies richer, you’re wrong. A damn good air-conditioning bus is priced at RM 1 million and you don’t want to think how the services in the future would be. For whatever thing you provide, people will need something that cheap and fast way for their works and else. How the government cope up with this? Think back how you purchase your car. Paying road taxes? Nope, that’s too few. It’s through your bank loans and insurances.

To rebuild the economy of our banks that were hit hard in the past decades as well as insurance companies, banks and these companies were needed to find something to regain those back. So do the government. The government forced buyers of cars and motorcycle to use banks and then compulsory insurances to be taken so that the banks and insurance companies can survive the economic downturn that happened earlier. Just to have them to get more income from the people, the government lowered the prices of the vehicles so that they can have more income through taxes from these companies (legally).

So, if we think back on why the prices of our vehicles are high because of the government trying to promote our own car companies like Proton, reducing the prices a little bit didn’t make things easier. By having more vehicles on the roads does not make our livings better. Yeah, especially the environmentalists with their arguments over CO2 emission which is as high as 7.57 metric tons per capita in 2008. Also, the deaths through road accidents won’t be going lower. Heck, imagine the time wasted on the roads due to traffics.

Personally, there are 4 cars at my house. Each for the person who living here that can drive. Not really a wise move if I think back properly. Especially when people around here have to park outside of their houses since the parking slots are not enough. Then, the streets are filled with random cars which owned by neighborhoods that I am not really sure whose. Still, I have to walk pretty much further down the residential if I want to get a public transportation like bus. I don’t really have an idea when the bus will arrive there at what time. Then I have to go to a KTM station to wait for a train if I want to go to Kuala Lumpur.

But I have a car which I always drive alone. Because I am comfortable with it.

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