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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Budget 2014: Low key in transport sector

Published: Saturday October 26, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Saturday October 26, 2013 MYT 11:14:10 AM
Smooth ride: RM15.3mil has been allocated for a centralised taxi service system.
PLAYERS in the transportation industry were expecting more from the Budget 2014, but a transport planner said the lack of a large infrastructure project was not necessarily a bad thing.

Transport planner Goh Bok Yen said the transport sector of Budget 2014 was more grassroots-based, citing the RM130mil rural air subsidy and the RM500mil for the Pan Borneo Highway as examples.

“Budget 2014 is less focused on large infrastructure projects, and that it was not necessarily a bad thing.

“To some extent, it has actually driven away from the traditional major infrastructure projects within urban and big cities,” he said, adding that even the double-tracking project and the West Coast Expressway were already announced before.

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) group managing director Datuk Seri Shahril Mokhtar approved of the park-and-ride services, adding that they would increase the use of public transport.

“We need more park-and-ride facilities to encourage the public to switch from driving to public transport. The trend is changing, but we strongly feel that it needs to change more,” he added.

He also lauded the building of “last city terminals” and bus stop upgrades, adding that it meant more comfort for customers.

Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya president Abdul Razak Md Hassan welcomed the RM28mil funds for Electric Multiple Units (EMU), but was unhappy that there was no funding for long-distance rail services.

“What about the locomotives, trains and wagons for long-distances? We don’t have enough, so what are we going to do when the double-tracking lines opens up?” he asked.

Abdul added that some intercity locomotives and coaches were getting old, and that upgrades were sorely needed.

Federation of Malaysian Con­sumers Association (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said the Budget did not allocate funds for land public transport such as bus systems.

“You have a RM130mil subsidy for rural air services, but what about on the ground, the towns and the small towns? Connectivity is still a problem,” he said, adding that consumers were burdened by high living costs and high transport costs.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Ashfar Ali was disappointed that the Budget did not cover bus operational costs, as prices of parts are expected to go up with the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015.

“The consumers aren’t going to pay the extra 6% on their tickets, but we will end up paying for spare parts, tyres and bodywork,” he said.

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