The State of Public Transport in Malaysia

This is a much discussed issue, especially with the recent tragedy at Slim River and the deaths of 3 young bright citizens (20, 21 and 23) of Malaysia.

I often wonder if having a system like we do in the UK would make much difference, in UK it’s know as the MOT or Ministry of Transport test.

It’s a test that EVERY vehicle has to go through every year after it’s 3 years old or more, if you don’t pass the test you can’t get your roadtax – if you can’t get your roadtax you can’t renew your insurance. Everything is linked together.

If there’s any failures on your test you have 10 days to retest, if not your vehicle is marked as unfit for the road, it’s a fairly cheap test at £50.35 for a regular car but I think it really helps.

Australia has a similar scheme and so does the US I believe.

Some may say the developing economy of Malaysia can’t support such a scheme as many people can’t afford to keep their cars or buses in safe working conditions.

But is it really worth risking people’s lives for? Surely these deathtrap cars shouldn’t be on the road.

Buses and public service vehicles should be strictly monitored for safety along with the drivers, 13 outstanding summons? For someone that is essentially in charge of 30 peoples lives?

Any cars without roadtax that are parked on public property (note you don’t even have to be DRIVING the car) can be towed away and crushed, yes not impounded but destroyed.

This is not the first incident with a bus in Malaysia, and it surely won’t be the last until things start to change. Drivers must be paid and trained properly, they must be responsible and not overworked.

The buses and vehicles used to transport people around the country must be well maintained.

I have to say personally I feel quite safe on the LRT, but the buses in Malaysia in general are horrible. The only ones I feel safe on are those luxury buses which are very well maintained and have well trained and rested drivers (Plusliner, Aerobus etc).

But those aren’t exactly affordable for the average student and are privately run, so not really considered as public transport.

If you feel that this is an important issue there’s an online petition you can sign here which is going to be presented to the Ministry of Transport.

Bus Crash No More

You can also read more about the issues here:

Sadlly it’s most likely the bright young students of Malaysia that are going to be endangered as they take the cheap buses from city to city during festive seasons and study breaks.

This is something which can and must be addressed.




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15 Responses to The State of Public Transport in Malaysia

  1. haan February 5, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    msia does have lotsa rules and regulations. but people follow them or not, whether they are strictly enforced.. those are different stories… 🙂

  2. davidlian February 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    ST, super timely post. I’ve sat on local buses for long haul trips before (penang, Singapore) and the driving is utterly horendous.

    In Australia, when I was studying there, the bus drivers were really the most courteuos people on the road and exemplary to all other drivers. Wondering why can’t we have bus drivers who are shining examples of how to behave on the road instead of the other way around.

  3. pablopabla February 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    Let me guess…..would any defaulter-to-be even have the remote idea of wanting to bribe the vehicle inspectors in the UK (or even Australia or US) prior to an inspection? I would assume that the system works better in those countries because I assume that the inspectors and enforcement agencies / personnels are less inclined to corruption compared to Malaysians. Is it just my assumption or does everybody else feels the same? 😉

  4. ront February 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    most european countries has this system of annual vehicle inspection.

    as for the US, it depends on the state, DMV (dept of motor vehicles) are state controlled, so the regulation varies….i’ve seen cars with bumper held up with duct tape on the road….

  5. Mark February 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    Yeah the MOT system does help to some extent but then again, most of the time here in Malaysia, the system is available but who enforces it?

    Like the same case for the bus crash which took Ning’s life, the driver had 13 summonses against him. We have a system to even show that he had 13 summonses against him but no action was taken. Even though a driver with that many summonses should not have had his license available nor should he be allowed on the road.

    We can have the same MOT system but if there is no enforcement there is also a problem. I believe if we were to implement a similar system such as the MOT system, I would suggest that stricter enforcement should be carried out on a regular basis rather than when accidents occur. If an implementation like this is too large to handle, definitely would suggest that it should be implemented first with public transport.

  6. snapshots February 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    As you say “vehicles should be strictly monitored” enforcement is the Key, we have laws already that there must be inspection before the road tax is renew, but what the point in having inspections when it is not strictly enforce? Some how or other the vehicles are back on the road.

    Remember 2 years back on the failed “Penang Bus revamp”, In one day most buses fail the inspection as reported by the papers. And those buses were back on the road the next day. Enforce our current laws ensure that vehicles that have pass inspection are really safe. Remove the “License” given and ban them.

  7. LC_Teh February 5, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    We may have the best testing systems and the strictest laws, but if corruption still remains the norm, we can forget all these…

    I still naively believe that our system has the ability to show up those drivers with multiple summonses and prevent them from renewing their licenses. Even if they have paid those summonses, these drivers should only be allowed 1 year renewals. Well, I must be dreaming…

  8. snapshots February 5, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    Bingo!, You are right on target.

  9. ShadowFox February 5, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    The problem is these bus drivers are employees of bus owners who are linked/cronies of the powers that be.

    It’s like asking the fox to guard the chicken. *Oops not this fox*

  10. Dabido February 5, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    Yes, most of Australia has a similar scheme … every state except WA I believe. A LOT of the vehicles on the road here are rust buckets. I hope they bring the law in here one day.
    Though, vehicles being used for public transport do have to undergo a similar test .
    BUT, alas, motor vehicles for private use can just pay and get re-registered each year.

  11. jlshyang February 6, 2008 at 7:03 am #

    Thanks for sharing with us about the MOT test in the UK. It is no wonder that i felt so much safer travelling in the National Express buses in the UK.

    The drivers are very professional and polite. They never fail to remind passengers to put on their safety belts before they start the journey and would adhere to the speed limit.

    Btw, ST, would you mind if i put up the link to this post under Buscrashnomore’s blogroll?

  12. KY February 6, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    Nian Ning was actually my brother’s friend who called my mom the night before the fateful accident. Things like this should never happen again.

  13. SooJ February 8, 2008 at 3:31 am #

    the problems of the public transport system in Malaysia is many-folds.

    Firstly and the most important, the lack of political will nor brains to do the right thing.
    Ask yourself this, when was the last time the bus fare was raised by a decent amount.
    By decent, you have to consider the rising cost of petrol, the limit on subsidy that the government gives for the diesel that the buses use. RM500 per bus per month for a bus that runs everyday for thousands of kilometers.
    The wages that has to be paid. maintenance for the smooth running of the vehicle.
    Most operators cut corners by using sub-standard parts in their maintenance. You’d often hear claims of brake failure. Our bus companies are all privatised. Meaning they have to turn in a profit. And they don’t hence the cost-cutting all over the place. And the haphazard award of bus licenses when a few years ago, there were plans to incorporate all the buses into a single entity so that the entire system is better and more efficiently run.
    Long distance express buses are not allowed to raise their prices during the festive season when the demand is the highest. Normal laws of supply and demand have been suppressed to continue providing an unnatural low standard of living.
    In China, during festive periods, prices go up by 3 times because the demand is there. And those buses that ply the major cities are so much better than those here.
    Most commercial vehicles have to undergo a road-worthiness test every 6 months. It’s very easy to pass the test provided you give the correct incentive.
    These are just some of the problems facing our public transport system.

    Where would you begin to start fixing it?

  14. BikerVoodoo February 13, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Park your car and ride a bike! You can fill up with RM15 bucks of fuel and laugh cos that will take you a long distance. Compared to a bus, you still sweat but you get to where you’re going and it won’t cost you much. On the downside, you get exposed to the elements, Malaysian drivers change lanes without signalling, you can’t carry much, no A/C, etc. But if you wear proper riding gear, and read up on some safety riding books, you should have a better chance at survival then the rest of em.

  15. scoboy February 15, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    The problem is corruption. Corruption to pay the bus inspector a bit of cash to let the bus go ahead on its way.

    The “offering” given to the Ferry inspector to allow the ferry to proceed on its “journey”

    The “settlement” given to the building inspector in order for the construction to keep on its track.

    Corruption causes laws and standards to fall apart, which leads to death.

    In 2005 My Boss’s brother died in KL when a cement slab squashed him in his BMW. This was no freak accident. It was an accident because of Corruption cracking the fabrication of public safety standards…..

    Whats worse is that in order to prevent a big court case, protecting the name of the construction company, the family was paid off under the table a large sum of money….

    It takes 2 to tango. Malaysians are all to blame.