Train ride ‘derailed’ by insufficient parking

LRT at Masjid Jamek. Image: Twentytwo13

I have to admit that I’m a bit spoilt when it comes to public transportation.

I’ve never used public transportation to commute to, and from work, all my work life. Before I had my car, we had one family car and we were fortunate enough to have offices that were along the route to my mother’s workplace. So, we car-pooled.

I also must admit that I’ve never been on the commuter train here in Malaysia on my own, ever. All three times I’ve used the LRT or MRT, it’s been with a friend, or a group of friends.

But June 9 was going to be my big day. I had a meeting in the KL Sentral area and I decided to take the LRT from Glenmarie. I was excited, but sadly, it was not meant to be.

I started getting anxious even before arriving at the station entrance, as I could see traffic backed up along the main road.

As I turned into the road leading to the station, cars were parked along the street, on both sides, turning what was a two-way street, into a single-lane street. I got into the parking lot, and it was absolutely packed. Every parking bay was taken, and vehicles were parked indiscriminately in every bit of space available.

Clearly, this is a very busy and popular station, and it will only get busier when the Shah Alam LRT line goes live in March next year, if all goes according to plan.

The powers that be must know that the feeder bus is obviously insufficient to cater to the needs of commuters, and that most commuters have to drive to the station.

So, common sense would dictate, that if you want to encourage people to use public transportation, the first thing you need to sort out is making it convenient for commuters. I would have loved to take the train into the city that day, but I couldn’t find a legal parking space.

It was reported earlier this year that Malaysia had overtaken Thailand to become Southeast Asia’s second-largest auto market. According to the Malaysian Automotive Association, auto sales increased five per cent in the first quarter, from a year earlier, to 202,245 vehicles. This followed an 11 per cent increase in 2023 to a record 799,731 vehicles. Is anyone paying attention to these statistics?

Having the trains lined up and running is one thing. Having commuters use the trains is another.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had last week, said the government was focusing on efforts to boost public transportation networks, infrastructure, and quality of service.

The problem will only get worse when fuel subsidies are slowly reduced, or even removed completely, which, given all the recent discussions, is bound to happen in the foreseeable future. There will be a huge public outcry and the Transport Ministry will have a public relations crisis on its hands.

It is not rocket science. Sufficient parking goes hand-in-hand with the use of the rail service. There has to also be sufficient allocation for ample multi-storey parking facilities. The two go together like pencil and paper.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

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