Public Transport for Urban Centres
Ir Dr Tai Tuck Leong
In considering Public Transport for urban centres, population size becomes a major determinant for mode selection.
Value(s) and Belief(s):
An Urban Perspective – “Decongesting Urban Centres”
Proposal of Solution:
1. For cities with a population size of 400,000 or more, a mass-oriented urban rail system should be considered as the core public transit system. For cities with such a threshold population level, the demand for public transport service along its major corridors would generally range between 5,000 to 8,000 persons per hour (pph) for the corridor. An urban rail system would seem to be most suited for such a demand situation. Rails can be in the form of a tram system or a light rail transit (LRT) system.
2. For such an urban rail to be an attractive public transport instrument, it has to be well integrated with an efficient feeder system (bringing people from their homes to the railway system smoothly and reliably) and further complemented by effective dispersal facilities (delivering people to their desired destinations seamlessly and speedily). It means an well-integrated and effective public transport system would involve more than just the train system, it must be effectively supported by, for instance, a well-planned feeder bus system and a well-thought out pedestrian network. A good urban public transport system must involve good team work – inter supportive from different modes, walking included as a crucial component. If left standing alone, a railway system can be rendered rather ineffectual; when well-supported and integrated with other modes and facilities, its potential and effectiveness may then be greatly enhanced many folds.
3. An integrated ticketing system for both bus and rail, as well as parking systems are required for a seamless interfacing and integration.
4. Park-and-ride facilities are critical and useful provisions to encourage people to leave their cars behind and to shift over to public transport.
5. For a more sustainable urban environment in the long term, transit oriented developments (TODs) such as transit villages and mixed-use developments along defined public transport corridors should be promoted to enhance the relationship between transport and urban environments.
6. Public transport should be the core to urban transportation system. Cars, on the other hand, must not be allowed to create mass discord or to overrun the city’s fragile fabrics; cars must be tamed.
7. For urban centres with a population size between 50,000 to 400,000 people, a bus system is known to serve as a suitable backbone of the public transport system.
8. Travel is a derived demand, based essentially on the size of the population associated with a particular travel corridor or an urban centre. The fleet requirement for a bus system may be estimated from its associated travel market or population. Typically, a bus can serve a population of 800 people, or 12 buses for a population of 10,000.
9. By extension, an urban centre of 300,000 population would require the service of 360 buses. At RM400,000 each, the investment would amount to RM144 million for a fleet of 360 buses (Equivalent to 6km of highway at the prevalent rate of RM25 million per km). Or with RM1.4billion investment, the amount can take care of the public transport needs of ten (10) urban centres of 300,000 population for the likes of Sibu, Miri, Tawau, Sandakan, Kangar, Alor Setar, Melaka, Chukai, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bahru.
10. For urban centres with a population of less than 50,000 people, a minibus system may be more appropriate as it is flexible, versatile and more penetrative in reach.
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