Penang is hoping that the free public stage bus service – based on a spoke-hub model – that will be introduced next month will provide a temporary fix in easing the growing traffic congestion in the state, theSundaily reports.

The Congestion Alleviation Transport (CAT) free bus service is scheduled to kick off on April 1 in 12 major areas, six on the island and six on the mainland. These are Alma, Ayer Itam, Balik Pulau, Batu Kawan, Bayan Baru, Bertam, Bukit Mertajam, George Town, Nibong Tebal, Seberang Jaya, Sungai Dua and Tanjung Tokong

State executive councillor in charge of traffic management, Chow Kon Yeow, said the CAT service – which is aimed at existing bus users, new commuters, students, blue-collar workers and tourists – will help to scale down the congestion that Penangites face daily.

The idea of introducing the free bus service first took shape in 2014 and the state government has been working with Prasarana-owned Rapid Penang to realise the plan.

According to Rapid Penang senior manager Osman Amir, the ‘Hub & Spoke’ concept will allow buses to pass through all the designated stops at a higher frequency, cover areas that have no prior bus service and increase the usage of public transportation. He added that Rapid Penang will be contributing 52 buses to the CAT project, and the operating hours for the service are from 6 am to 10 pm.