Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Public Transport Pass

I support this (excerpt):

Time to introduce a RM100 public transportation pass in the Klang Valley

In October 2017, I had written about the lack of an increase in the ridership of the LRT, MRT and KTM Komuter despite the billions of Ringgit of investment poured into new projects.[1] The recently released Quarter 3 2017 rail statistics[2] by the Ministry of Transportation confirmed my fears that the LRT and MRT ridership spike in July and August 2017 due to the half-price fares were only temporary....

...The drop in the daily ridership on the LRT and MRT clearly shows that passengers are price sensitive. This is why it is necessary to introduce an affordable monthly public transportation pass to allow passengers to have unlimited rides on the LRT, MRT, Monorail and Rapid KL buses as a way to increase public transportation usage. Rapid used to have an RM150 monthly travel pass for the LRT but this was eliminated as part of the LRT fare hike in Dec 2015.

Pakatan Harapan has proposed in our alternative budget to introduce a RM100 unlimited travel monthly public transportation pass. I am confident that with the introduction of this pass, public transportation usage especially on the LRT, MRT and Rapid buses will increase significantly, perhaps even beyond the daily ridership figures set in August 2017 when the LRT and MRT fares were reduced by 50%.

Public transport almost never makes money, but there are large positive externalies to increasing utilisation. From reduced congestion to lower environmental costs, not to mention spreading the large upfront cost of building transport networks across more users, there are good arguments for maximising the use of available capacity. There's also the incentive trade-off between using cars as opposed to public transport - because of the lower convenience, public transport has to be priced lower to compete effectively. Lower or flat prices might also increase revenue, depending on the shape of the demand curve. So this makes sense, and is at least worth some study.


  1. Personally I'm a daily train commuter. My comment: Definitely a great idea for train commuters, but I'm skeptical with the capacity of our trains, especially LRT and Monorail, in catering for even more users. The LRT stations like KL Sentral, KLCC, and lately, Pasar Seni (due to the new transit from MRT) have been having super long waiting lines. No point of talking about increasing ridership when the infra capacity itself is inadequate in the first place. I think it is more of a supply problem than demand problem. The consequence of the historical decision in building LRT first, not outright MRT, is catching up with us now.

    1. The infra for monorail and LRT might struggle during peak demand hours but it is possible to increase ridership during off-peak hours. This may require larger policy tweak that includes wider application of flexible working hours, instead of having everybody having to come to work by 8AM-9AM-10AM and then leaving at 5PM-6PM-7PM. (At the same time, the MRT is definitely very severely underutilised even more than 12 months after its opening).

      And on LRT vs MRT and overcapacity in the LRT, I don't feel it's a sequencing issue (in any case, LRT capacity from what I understand is similar to MRT. In Malaysia, it's mostly a labelling/public relations issue). Instead, it's probably because the LRT is 20 years old and that allowed new areas along the lines to develop and mature, hence creating high demand. The new areas around the MRT for most part have yet to mature in the same sense.

      After all, the MRT terminus are Sungai Buluh and Kajang atm. Compare this to old LRT terminus of Kelana Jaya and Gombak, or Seri Petaling/Cheras and Ampang. The LRT population centers are much, much denser than MRT's at the moment. It's crazy to get a seat in Kelana Jaya or Gombak. But for on the MRT terminus, you'll see ghost.

    2. Generally agree, except that the capacity of LRT is definitely not similar to MRT, especially for the Kelana Jaya Line LRT (which is the most important line in KL and MRT is 56% larger). The Sri Petaling Line is much larger but MRT is still 25% larger). Thanks for your comment nevertheless.

  2. There are of course alternatives to providing positive incentives by lowering the costs of public transport. One alternative is that the government can also discourage private cars and promote public transport by increasing the parking costs in KL City or similar congestion charge like in Singapore or London.

    Will not be popular but may be necessary in the long run. Tax the richer people who can afford private cars and the high parking fees in order to subsidise costs of public transport.
    Of course it is only feasible to roll this out once the public transport system is comprehensive enough and I believe that it will be so after MRT2 is completed.

    1. @anon 12.11

      Personally, rather than higher parking or congestion charges, I'd just as soon tax petrol:


  3. Hisham,

    This is actually on the manifestos of both BN and PH. The Pas Pengangkutan Awam TN50 will be between RM50-RM150, do you think its a fair price that would encourage more people to use public transport?

    1. @CH

      I don't know about pricing. Very likely there will have to be some element of subsidy to it. However, a monthly pass is I think absolutely critical for capping costs to consumers, as well as driving greater adoption, since it promotes greater usage.

    2. Hisham,
      This has finally made it into Belanjawan 2019. A great decision I hope.