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The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) has said that an integrated public transport system for major cities in Malaysia has been long overdue and should have been developed in the 1980s, according to The Star.

Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye made the remark in response to a report the English language daily carried on Sunday, stating that the World Bank urged Malaysia to be serious in developing a more integrated public transport system, saying that gridlocks cost people valuable time and money.

Overall, Greater Kuala Lumpur jams caused motorists to waste between 270 and 500 million man-hours last year, totting up to losses of no less than RM3,100 per person per year inclusive of lost time and fuel.

“We hope to see more improvements when the MRT project is completed on schedule,” Lee said, with Hong Kong being used as an example of a well-integrated transport system – a single payment card (the Octopus card) is used on all trains, buses, ferries, trams and minibuses. He added that building more highways would not fix the problem, and that a good public transport system is the only solution out of this conundrum.

In addition to Kuala Lumpur, the World Bank also singled out Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Johor Bahru in its report as cities that are about to face the same mobility challenges. It added that the public transport usage in Kota Kinabalu sat at just 8%, while the transport planning around the East Malaysian city does not take into account land usage.

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Kota Kinabalu state traffic police chief Supt Shahrum Hashim concurred with the report, saying that congestion problems have to be overhauled in a holistic manner, adding that the whole process should also include enforcement, engineering, environment and education needs.

“Traffic flow, transport system and congestion issues involve various departments and agencies such as the police, the city hall, Road Transport Department, engineers, and so on,” he said. “All of us need to sit together to discuss about this so that a long-term solution can be sought.”

Mayor of Kota Kinabalu Datuk Abidin Madingkir said that the implementation of comprehensive plans was dependent on funding from the federal government.

“We acknowledge among others the urgency to increase road and junction capacity to improve traffic congestion, modification of traffic flow to a one-way system to improve flow, and to have four main integrated bus terminals constructed,” he said, adding that the bus routing in the city will be revamped once the terminals were completed.