The Time Subang Jaya Made National Policy

By Michelle Ng

When I ran for office, one of my aims was to have Subang Jaya be a testing ground for new ideas. At the same time, one of the problems Subang Jaya faced was traffic.

Upon being elected, MBSJ briefed me about the traffic management plan that was to be implemented at the Persiaran Kewajipan-Persiaran Subang Mewah exchange, or better known as the “Summit Junction”. You see, Persiaran Kewajipan was built for a capacity of 4,000 cars per hour. However, by 2018, which was the time the traffic management plan was to be implemented, Persiaran Kewajipan was clocking in 12,000 cars per hour! To make things worse, traffic in the Klang Valley generally grows at 2% per year.

I looked around Subang Jaya and felt that we needed to implement more sustainable policies. It made sense that traffic was growing – our cities are designed to be car centric. When young families moved into Subang Jaya, they had perhaps maximum two cars. However when their kids grew older and begin to seek their independence, two cars became three, maybe four or five cars.

The solution must be public transport. Subang Jaya is blessed as it has an LRT running down its spine. The problem however, is the first mile-last mile connection.

In 2019, I approached Dr Tai, a traffic consultant, to ask for his advice on how Subang Jaya’s first mile-last mile design should look like. He helped me draw up catchment areas, plotted dense neighbourhoods and key destinations. These then formed the backbone for proposed bus routes.

I used this data and presented it to Prasarana. By this time, I had the backing of residents who did not have buses serving their housing area for more bus lines in Subang Jaya.

Prasarana agreed to an intra-city route, which linked Subang Jaya and USJ residents to the SS15, USJ7 and Taipan LRT stations through two main roads – Persiaran Kewajipan and Persiaran Murni. The line was called T792, and it was to run as a trial for 3 months.

A month in, and we soon realised rather major problems. Ridership just was not picking up. We were only recording a maximum of 17 riders a day. There were too few bus stops. Residents found the route inaccessible as the stops were too far away from their homes. There was also no way of rerouting the bus into housing areas, as a 40-seater meant that it could only travel on wide roads. Cost also became a problem. The bus ran regardless of ridership. Even with zero passengers on board, we were burning petrol, paying drivers and causing wear and tear to the buses. As Malaysian Public Transport system goes, reliability of our bus system was often called into question. The bus often missed its schedule. An elderly lady who was made to wait in the wee hours of the morning at dark bus stops was unfortunately robbed. To add salt to the wound, Covid happened – some routes had to be recalled due to the 50% capacity vehicle ruling at the time. T792 was one of them. It was a failure.

I could have stopped there. It was a tiring few months that only left us with lessons. However, I decided to reach out to the Special Assistant of YB Anthony Loke, who was still the Minister of Transport before the Sheraton Move for advice. He suggested that I tried contacting Causeway Link, who had a bus-hailing service called Kumpool.

The Movement Control Order gave us time to conduct those meetings with Causeway Link in order for me to understand the system, and to pitch for them to come to Subang Jaya. We would be the first in Selangor to implement this.

How it works is as such – users would download the Kumpool app and make a booking through their platform. As vans are used instead of 40-seater buses, a lot more roads became accessible. Instead of having only 20 bus stops via a traditional system, Subang Jaya has 200 stops! That means each home would have a bus stop within a maximum 10-minute walk! A booking system also solved the issue of reliability. Users can track when a van was going to arrive. Efficiency was maximised – the van ran on bookings and not a schedule. This means that it will only run when there is a booking. In terms of planning stops – it can be easily done from the backend by creating one on the map or removing stops that were underperforming. There was no issue of communicating changes to users as this was done all through an app. The fact that this service is being provided for only RM1 also made it very affordable. In the bigger picture of climate change, this was a very carbon friendly way of moving around.

The first day we launched this service in December 2021, we saw 10 riders. In between, I brought Causeway Link to meet community leaders to plan stops, and to create awareness. We also linked the company up with “hot stops” such as Mydin, Sunway Pyramid and the universities in the PJS area. At the time of writing i.e. February 2023, we are now seeing up to 500 riders a day. That is 29 times more successful than the T792 trial!

The added joy is this – two days ago, YB Anthony Loke, our current minister of Transport, announced that Prasarana will be working with Kumpool to provide van-hailing services! Who would have thought that a Subang Jaya initiative would contribute to national policy?

I owe all these to the people of Subang Jaya, who gave me this opportunity to serve you. The little that we do here has been a launch pad for greater things that would change many lives. This national development goes back to all of you.