Malaysia: free public transport in Kuala Lumpur in a country where the car is king

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There are now more motor vehicles than people in Malaysia. In Kuala Lumpur, its capital, the car’s reign generates traffic jams that are currently closer than before the pandemic. To combat this plague, which is causing heat peaks, the authorities are trying to encourage the population to use public transport with free bus lines and also for a month, all metros and public transport in an urban area of ​​eight million inhabitants.

With a countdown and a prime minister at the microphone, the announcement had something spectacular ” All city transport will be free for one month! the head of the Malaysian government, Ismaïl Sabri, announced on July 16th last, at the inauguration of a new metro line in Kuala Lumpur.

An operation that cost 35 million euros and which hoped to make a very congested capital more liquid with a increase 45% of cars in circulation between December 2019 and December 2021, according to authorities. An influx that not only causes traffic jams but also rises in temperature, analyzes Professor Zaly Shah, transportation specialist. ” We have a tropical climate, so we have a lot of cloud cover, which prevents the pollution from spreading, says the academic. The CO2 produced near the ground therefore remains close to the ground, and this is what happens especially in traffic jams.. »

Support the automotive industry by buying cars

A phenomenon that could increase the humidity in Kuala Lumpur by 2 degrees and which seems difficult to modify as the car is king of Malaysia. ” We are in a rather unique situation, reports Zaly Shah. We are a small country, but we have two national car brands: Proton and Perdua, whose main market is Malaysia. They do not sell many cars abroad, so Malaysia is in a rather contradictory position: We encourage people to take public transport, we try to develop it, but at the same time we do everything for people to buy Malaysian cars because otherwise our car industry would not survive. »

But beyond the financial efforts and weight of habits, it is not so easy to change means of transport. On YouTube, two other videographers, Rorry Lee and Hanif Azrai, tried experience, challenged by a statement from the head of the national railway company regretting that Malaysians are too “lazy” to take public transport. In this challenging video, the two employees working for the SoyaCinau medium tell the beginning of their experiments: ” We usually use our vehicles to go to work, we start from the suburbs, we take to the center of Kuala Lumpur and it usually takes us 30 minutes, so it is not that bad, but recently we have been very tired of all these traffic jams that we have to endure. »

Fatigue and a travel time sometimes multiplied by six!

A fatigue that has only increased in public transport, two buses and a subway to Hanif, a subway that is only accessible after a long walk for Rorry, they note after recording the video. ” I’m thinking what’s interesting, sums up Rory Leeis that even though Hanif and I live in roughly the same residential suburbs, the availability of public transport was very different and it took him 3 hours to get to work and I on my part put 1 hour 30. In both cases it was very longer than when taking highways and ring roads, even in traffic jams. »

Therefore, if free transport has not had a major impact on Malaysian habits around Kuala Lumpur, due to the lack of still highly developed networks, Aziff Azuddin, a researcher in urban transport planning, refuses to resign himself: “ Of course, when people try to take the subway and the bus and find that it is slow and unreliable, even though it is free, they take their car back. But we can also not wait for the public transport network to completely cover Kuala Lumpur’s metropolitan area to do everything to make people use their cars less, and I think until then we could concentrate, for example, on the small bus network. , which is cheaper than a metro line to develop and easier to change or adapt if necessary.»

Another way for this researcher, to do as in London, is to tax vehicles driving into the city center and develop the public transport network with these funds.

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