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The Selangor government is set to begin its free bus service in Shah Alam, Subang Jaya and Klang this coming July. The public service is expected to help alleviate ever-worsening traffic conditions and provide transport alternatives to around 24,000 residents in three of the aforementioned townships.

Datuk Teng Chang Khim, chairman of the Selangor Investment, Industry (SME) & Commerce and Transportation committee, told The Star that said project was expected to cost RM3.6 million annually – a total of RM1.2 million for each 10-km route.

Each of the three proposed routes, one in each township, has been designed by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), Klang Municipal Council and Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) and has been submitted to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for approvals. “The routes planned by MPSJ will also run along the new Kelana Jaya LRT extension,” added Teng.

A “reputable” firm, to be announced at the programme’s launch, has been chosen to supply the state government with a total of 10 buses for the service. The Selangor government will pay a lump sum to the service provider for the rental, services and maintenance of the buses. When initiated, all three town councils will begin operations simultaneously to facilitate (if any) changes regarding the service.

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Currently, there are two free bus services in operation – the Petaling Jaya (PJ) City Bus and a similar service in Shah Alam. The latter, according to MBSA, runs only three times a day at 7.30 am, 11.30 am and 4.30 pm with a total of 25 stops that run from the Shah Alam city bus station in Section 14 to stops in Sections 2, 7, 11, 16, 17 and 18.

The PJ City Bus service, on the other hand, was launched on May 14 last year and runs a 28.2-km route – locations include the bus terminal along Jalan PJS 3/11, Kampung Dato Harun KTM station, Asia Jaya LRT station, Sections 14, 16 and 17 as well as Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and PJ Old Town. The service operated from 6 am to 9 pm daily and caters to about 9,000 passengers daily.

Said free bus service has been welcomed by many, with Selangor Wanita MCA chief, Ong Chong Swen, and Juan Lee, USJ 6 Rukun Tetangga deputy chairman, among those in favour of such a facility. However, doubts surrounding the actual response to such a service have surfaced, especially when taking into account the relatively low ridership on the PJ City Bus service.

In response, Teng commented, “…it is difficult for people who have been driving all the while to start using public transportation, but more people are aware of it and are starting to use the services.” He remains adamant that such a response was merely a “hiccup” at the initial phase.