by Husna Yusop
PUTRAJAYA (June 4, 2009) : The proposed increase in taxi and bus fares of between 30% and 50% would thwart the government’s agenda to promote the use of public transport.
“The government wants us to use public transport. But if the rates are high, it would not be attractive as the cost of using public transport would be higher than using our own vehicles," said Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman.
“This is made worse when the system itself is not integrated. It would make people think twice before using public transport,” he said when contacted by theSun.
On Tuesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said the proposed increase involving taxis, stage, express and schoolbuses, could take effect as early as next month.
Mohd Yusof said the fare hikes would also be a big burden to consumers as most of the people using public transport are from the lower and medium income group.
He urged the government to come up with ways to help taxi and bus operators so as to lighten their burden as operation costs have also increased recently.
Citing for instance the case in Germany, he said its government subsidises up to 50% of its public transport operational costs to maintain the fares at a reasonable level and the efficiency of the system.
“This is what is being practised in developed countries including Singapore. So, the government should have a similar system because the 30% increase is quite high for consumers.
“At the same time, we want a win-win situation. We want efficient service for consumers and sustainable business for the operators,” he said, adding that should their businesses be affected and companies have to shut down, it is the consumers who would suffer.
Apart from subsidising their operational costs, Mohd Yusof said the government should also think of ways to reduce the cost of spare parts like tyres and batteries.
“Perhaps the government can cut down on the import duty for these parts,” he said.
He added that Fomca had submitted its views to the government as it is also involved in the public transport committee at the Economic Planning Unit level.
To Nazri’s point that only those who could afford it use taxis, Mohd Yusof pointed out that many consumers had no other choice but to take taxis to get to areas which are not serviced by buses.
The Sun, 05 Jun 2009
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