Monday, October 09, 2006

What revamp?

This is an edited version of an email that I sent to a reader discussing Rapid KL's so-called bus network revamp.


This year, Rapid KL has "revamped" the bus system. In my opinion this "revamp" consists of two separate efforts:

Firstly, the network revamp. The Local-Trunk-City-Express system. That is something out of this world to us KL folk. And this is what I believe Rapid KL means by "revamp".

Secondly, fleet revamp - fleet enlargement and upgrade. New buses, more buses, reconditioned old buses. COINCIDENTALLY, these buses were introduced this year. I'm not sure if Rapid KL would have proceeded with effort 1 (network revamp) if there was no fleet revamp.

So, when we praise or criticize this new "system", are we talking about the network revamp or the nice new clean buses (and their relative abundance)?

When discussing this revamp, we have to decompose the effects of the fleet revamp, which would SPNB would have proceeded regardless of Rapid KL's plans to change the network. For example, when doing a survey on "what do you think of this new system", we have to consider:
1. fleet revamp (with plenty of new buses) and network revamp (local-trunk-city-express); vs
2. fleet revamp (with plenty of new buses) without network revamp (old system with all buses terminating at KL or LRT stations at most)

Fleet revamp, is a given, since that is SPNB's mandate, while operationally Rapid KL decides how to utilise that fleet (network).

I don't think Rapid KL has been honest enough in presenting this case that the hub-and-spoke (local-trunk-city-express) is indeed better. As far as I have read, they haven't cited any reasons why this system is better. They just make a claim that hub-and-spoke leads to shorter waiting time without showing the logic or evidence.

The only plausible reason I can guess is that breaking up longer routes into shorter ones will lead to less accumulated delays. And breaking them up into many independent systems will also avoid problems elsewhere. For example, if there is a big jam at Kotaraya, this shouldn't affect people who wish to travel from Subang to Bangsar. Under the old system it would.

Whether this new network system is indeed better, I think we should let Rapid KL give it a try. But I expect Rapid KL to produce some evidence in a few months showing that indeed time is saved and it is the most effective and efficient (least waste) way of managing the routes.

Another thing that has to be looked at is the new fare structure. How would the issuing of bus passes change people's travelling habits? How about those people who only need to make one trip a day? Probably a lot of people who say that "I love this new system" are coming from people who travel a lot who now experience cheaper fares because now their fares are capped at RM4? Probably true if your sample consists mainly of people in Bangi who travel to KL and would have had to spend more than RM4 before.

At the end of the day, we all have to ask ourselves this - "what does it mean by NEW SYSTEM?"

I expect Rapid KL to be clearer in their communications when praising and advocating this new "system". Is it the new and more buses they are talking about? Or the hub and spoke system? Or the bus pass fare structure?

These are 3 different initiatives by Rapid KL (and SPNB) and Rapid KL has the responsibility in explaining to its stakeholders (government and us users) how each have brought benefits.

No cock and bull about, oh this system is better because waiting time has been cut. (IF AT ALL IT IS TRUE, AND IF TRUE is it because of more buses on the road or is it due to the gains from the hub and spoke?)


Blogger Kenny Sia said...

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11:54 AM  

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