Overwhelming response to bus services in Iskandar Johor

By NELSON BENJAMIN | nelson@thestar.com.my

BeXTRA’s ridership between Ulu TIram and Johor Baru averages at 81,000 passengers a month.

NUSAJAYA: More people are using public transport within Iskandar Malaysia as the number of commuters using Bas Iskandar has touched an average of 9,444 people daily.

For the last one year until December, a total of 3.4 million people used the services to commute along its 27 routes, which involves about 50 housing estates.

Perbadanan Pengangkutan Awam Iskandar Malaysia (PAIM) director Hamsan Saringat said a big chunk of their users were students while the rest were foreigners and members of the public.

“We are now planning to equip all our buses with WiFi by June this year and we hope that this will continue to attract people,” he said, adding that students liked using Bas Iskandar due to its prompt and reliable service.

“Although the buses belong to the three bus companies that are working with PAIM in this initiative, we closely monitor their services,” he said, adding that each bus was also fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS).

On the newly launched service of Bas Express Transit (BeXTRA), which has been launched in stages since last year with five designated routes, Hamsan said that the take-up rate was very good.

“In fact, the ridership of BeXTRA between Ulu Tiram and Johor Baru is very impressive with an average of 81,000 passengers a month,” he said, adding that other routes include Kulai, Taman Universiti, Masai and Kota Masai.

Hamsan said the BeXTRA was popular as there were fewer number of stops at designated areas compared with other ordinary bus services which stops all along the way.

“For example, a trip from Kulai to Johor will usually have about 30 stops but with BeXTRA, there will only be about eight stops,” he said, adding that they had designated about 40 buses for the five routes.

Hamsan hoped that in future, Johor would have its own Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), similar to the ones in Colombia in South America, which have designated lanes.

“We have about eight companies operating about 800 to 1,000 buses in Johor,” he said, adding that by 2025, they hoped to increase the number of people using public transport in the state from 15% presently, to 40%.

BeXTRA covers five major routes, between Johor Baru and Kulai, Ulu Tiram, Taman Universiti, Masai and Kota Masai. The bus has fewer stops, of between six and eight during the entire journey.

Meanwhile, PAIM chief executive Mohd Gadaffie Abd Aziz said that in an effort to promote public transport in Iskandar, they planned to hold a Public Transport Week between March 18 and24.

He said the event, which would be held for the first time, would have an array of activities including refurbishing several old buses and using it as a resource centre in schools, getting the Johor Mentri Besar and his state executive councillors to take a bus ride to work and impromptu appearance by local artistes on-board buses known as Kotak Music.

“We also hope to have a TransIskandar Transport Race, the cleaning up and painting of selected bus stops; TransIskandar carnival; and a short film contest known as ‘Public Transport and Me’ during the week,” he said, adding that all these will be done to create awareness among the people.

For more details, visit www.publictransportweek.com.my.

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