Tiga SCS

KTM Komuter fares will go up from December 2 with a new fare structure in place. It will affect both Tanjung Malim-Sungai Gadut and Batu Caves-Port Klang lines. The first fare revision since February 2003 will see an increase of four sen per km (from 11 sen per km to 15 sen), but students now receive a 50% discount off ticket prices.

National news agency Bernama surveyed KTM Komuter users and they say that the service should commensurate with the fare hike. The rail operator has been urged to increase the frequency of trips, especially during peak hours, and improve facilities such as toilets.

Izyan Hanim Ibrahim, 20, who commutes back and forth from Gombak to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said the fare increase does not commensurate with the services provided. Private sector employee Mohamad Ridwan Ahmad, 32, said the price increase did not affect him much because it was still low compared to other modes of public transport.

“However, I agree with other users that KTM should ensure that the services provided are on a par with public transport provided by other companies like RapidKL. KTM should provide basic facilities such as upgrading of public toilets, prayer rooms, adding lanes for cashless ticket payment (Touch n Go) and having auxiliary police service at every stop,” he said.

Nurul Ain Yaakop commutes from Rawang to Shah Alam daily, and the 26-year old says that the timing of the increase seemed inappropriate with the increase of cost of living currently faced by the public. “The increase should commensurate with the enhancement of services, it should not remain stagnant. Ensure that users are happy when using the service,” she said.

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The associations are singing the same tune. Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA) president Datuk N Marimuthu told Bernama that KTM should have enhanced their services before implementing the fare increase. He said the new fare imposed was not on par with the quality of service provided by KTM especially in terms of safety and comfort.

Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia’s chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said that KTM should instead reduce their operating costs, as it was not meant to be a for-profit company. “In fact, we want KTM to give discount to users who truly need the service,” he added.

It’s only fair to hear the other side of the story, KTM’s side. “The new fare structure will cover operating and maintenance costs that have been on the rise every year. The purchase of spare parts has become increasingly expensive with the drop of the ringgit, not to mention KTM had also been subject to commercial rates of the electricity tariff over the years,” said KTM Bhd (KTMB) president, Lt Col (Rtd) Sarbini Tijan.

In an earlier report, KTMB chairman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad said that the fare increase was required to prevent further losses, which stand at around RM100 million per year. “Our cost per km is at 20 sen but our ticket price per passenger only covers 11 sen per km. Right now, our operating revenue cannot cover our operating cost,” he stressed, adding that the company no longer wants to rely on the government for subsidies in covering operating costs.

As an occasional user of the KTM Komuter from Rawang to KL, this writer agrees that services, which have improved compared to a few years ago, can be further enhanced. Trains must come on time, as scheduled, and Komuter trains must be given priority on the tracks and not be left to wait (often in the middle of nowhere) for other trains to pass before resuming.