Sunday, September 17, 2006

Integrated Networking

I guess one of the major peeves we commuters have about the system is that with regards to ticketing. I have already talked a little bit about Touch 'n Go and Capping.

Additionally, it is really bad that not only are rail lines not physically integrated, even ticketing isn't.

At this point in time, everyone will probably start thinking about the so-called Masjid Jamek "interchange". It was already bad enough that in the past, the lines passing through were run by two different operators at two stations at two different levels.

Touch 'n Go was only available on what was then Putra. Thank God that it was then made available on what was then Star. The Putra monthly pass wasn't valid on Star.

And if buying a single ticket, you'd have to purchase another one at the interchange when changing. Sigh.

Then came Rapid KL that brought back some order. Passes were now valid on both systems. (But physical integration is still horrible though.)

One of the next big things that should be implemented is a fully integrated ULTIMATE pass. But under the current management-ownership structure of this fragmented system, it is almost impossible. Transport providers will not want to participate as there will be issues such as revenue sharing.

How would Rapid KL compensate these other providers when commuters use these passes on their systems?

Now, I am not suggesting that SPNB buy up ERL, KTM and KL Monorail and Rapid KL take up management to fix this whole integration mess. Far from it.

In other countries, different lines are sometimes also managed and run by different companies (such as Singapore's SMRT vs SBS Transit, or London's Metronet vs Tube Lines). Seemless ticketing integration has been proven possible in many places.

What I would suggest is that these other rail (ERL, KTM, KL Monorail) and bus (Metrobus, Selangor, Triton etc. ) operators still manage and own their own infrastructure and major operations, while Rapid KL take over ticketing, marketing and branding.

In other words, have Rapid KL enter a long term contract with these Other operators to provide transport services on behalf of Rapid KL. In return Rapid KL offers these Other operators an agreed fix sum every year, plus maybe a performance bonus subject to some KPIs. Incentives should also be alligned to encourage investment in more capacity and better systems.

Rapid KL would become the sole buyer from these Others, and Rapid KL would resell these journeys to the population. Passes can be used systemwide, being good for commuters. Tickets and passes would be the same systemwide.

A systemwide branding and corporate image can be employed. Bus services of Other operators can be controlled better. Transport literature can be better provided. Route numbers under Rapid KL's Areas should be extended for the Others.

Passengers ought also to be guaranteed a consistent (and GOOD) level of service and quality anywhere in the system, whether it is a SPNB network or that of Others. For example, regulating the quality of toilets, escalators, platforms, lightings, access, seats and air conditioning.

As mentioned earlier, bonuses should be performance based: for example breakdowns, punctuality and customer satisfaction. For buses, have operators tender competitively for routes.

It is possible to have a unified and integrated system, without having all of them under one management and ownership.


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