Prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said a comprehensive public transportation framework is currently being prepared by transport minister Anthony Loke. He said the framework, which is aimed at improving aspects of public transport in the country, will be presented to the cabinet for its implementation once it is ready.

He said that public transportation programmes are a priority and that, having taken a backseat to education and healthcare this year, it will be a focus in next year’s Budget, the Malay Mail reports.

“I would like to once again thank the transport minister who is preparing a more comprehensive framework and strategy for public transportation that will be presented to the cabinet and will then be implemented in stages,” he said during the launch of the Putrajaya Mass Rapid Transit Line.

Anwar said that a well-defined public transportation network would go a long way in addressing traffic congestion issues, which could impact the country’s productivity. Citing a study from Bangkok that he had read, he said that billions of dollars are lost from productivity simply because of severe congestion.

“The time taken to reach the workplace is time that causes productivity to be lost. The answer to that issue was public transportation, he said.

Last month, a TomTom Traffic Index report indicated that Kuala Lumpur drivers spent 159 hours on the road during rush-hour traffic in the city centre last year. It estimated drivers spent RM1,023 on fuel (RM221 due to congestion) and emitted 833 kg of CO2 (180 kg due to congestion).

Separately, Loke said that a cabinet committee to tackle public transport issues will be set up in early April. He said that committee members would be from various ministries, and that it would be chaired by deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, The Star reports.

“The committee will look to take comprehensive steps in solving the current constant traffic congestion issues plaguing the country, among other issues related to public transportation,” Loke said.