Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Boo RapidKL!

The new RapidKL structured bus fare systems goes into effect today and it was as I expected it.

Badly executed!

Since sometime back in July, I have noticed the notices posted in the buses and LRT trains announcing the change in the bus fare system on 1st Sept. Of all the changes proposed, the one involving the “Utama” bus lines were the one that left me more than a bit perplexed as to how they will implement it. From its inception, the “Utama” bus line only had one fare point for a day pass ticket that can be used for as many bus trips within the same day of purchase. This made taking the bus very convenient and quite economical especially when one needs to transfer to multiple buses in a day.

Unfortunately, all that changed starting today with the implementation of a zonal fare structure. Instead pay a flat fare of RM2 to the driver, bus commuters would have to inform the driver which stop they would want to alight at and driver will tell them the new bus fare. Fares start at RM1, RM1.90, RM2.50 and a maximum of RM3 depending on the number of travel zones the commuter goes through to get to their stop. I guess eventually people who take the bus daily would eventually know how much they have to pay for their trip but until then the bus driver needs to tell the commuters how much to pay.

I’ve always paid RM2 for my bus trip to my office and with this new fare structure I should only need to pay RM1.90 since I only need to cross 2 zones. Nice on paper but dismal in execution! Instead of paying just RM2 for a day’s bus trip, I need to pay the RM1.90 tickets twice since in the new fare system, your bus ticket is a one way ticket instead of a day pass. Since RapidKL buses do not have bus conductors like their competitors, commuters don’t get change back when they pay for their bus fare. What is the use of charging RM1.90 instead of RM2 since no change is provided?

To throw more salt to the wound, they have disabled the Touch & Go card payment system on the buses due to technical implementation issues to adapt to the new bus fare structures. I can’t understand this reason since they would have more than sufficient time to look into the issue of using T&G cards on buses before implementing the new fare system. RapidKL do not need to look further than our neighbors in Singapore to see how they implement the EZ-Link payment card system in their buses. Bus commuters there use only their payment card instead of cash to pay for their bus fare. One only needs to touch the card on the reader when you board and touch it again on the exit reader to deduct the fare before getting off the bus. The same system should have been implemented by RapidKL as well if they wanted a structured fare system.

Inefficiencies due to poor planning will never be acceptable no matter what the economic reasons were behind the decision of pushing the plans through. For a company that prides itself as having the goal of having the “highest degree of operational excellence, engineering efficacy and service reliability” as one of its corporate missions, I must say that the implementation of this new bus fare structure has only left me with a bad impression of the planners. They could easily have avoided this dismal spectacle with better planning and execution that was more commuter friendly instead of just thinking about their coffers.

And for that I say … Boo, RapidKL!

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