What Kept Malaysia From Having the World’s Best Public Transport System

What Kept Malaysia From Having the World’s Best Public Transport System

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Malaysia generally does not have such a positive reputation for its public transit service, but you already know that if you have experience of taking one. While some cities have impressive networks of efficient public transport systems, we are still, for the most part, a car-dependent society. So what would it take to standardize Malaysia’s transit? To answer that question, you need to understand the differences between Malaysia’s transit system and those in the rest of the world.


Malaysia Public Transport Ridership Statistics from year 2017-2019


The current state of Malaysian public transportation

Malaysia has made good progress over the last decade in improving upward social mobility as the country continues to move towards becoming an advanced nation. Given that Malaysia is made up of 75% of urban areas, it is particularly important to have a good public transport system. Most Malaysians still find it hard to let go of the notion that one could survive the grind without owning a car. Without reliable public transport, low-income urban households would be at a disadvantage, which could potentially prevent them from moving up the socio-economic ladder. Existing mass transit systems are still plagued by occasional safety and functional problems.

While our rail system has become the main backbone of Malaysia’s public transport system, public buses remain a concern. Due to punctuality, private bus and feeder bus services that link commuters to the train system across KL are still inefficient.  Most bus terminals and stops are poorly maintained by city councils and transit authorities as well. As a result, most people would choose to drive to the nearest train station that is already located in key densely populated neighbourhoods.

There is a much-needed improvement in the walkway to encourage more people to take public transport. Most walkways inside and outside of KL are inconsistent and are not suitable for walking in most areas. Having a good walkway that connects from your neighbourhood area will encourage people to walk to the nearest transit station.

While populations in various developed countries have mostly opted for public transport, particularly rail and train services, Malaysians are slowly catching up towards heading the same direction after Mass Rapid Transit(MRT) started its operation on 15 December 2016. 


What other cities are getting right with their public transit

Cities with the best public transportation have networks that cover all the neighborhoods you want to see, with reliable and frequent service at an affordable price.Some of the notable public transit in the world include:


Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s public transport system is the best in the world, based on “The Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017.” Its achievement is largely contributed by Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway(MTR), which stood out as one of the best transit systems in the world with some of the best facilities such as tactile flooring, braille boards for disabled travellers, public washrooms, banks, shops and takeaway food outlets.


United States of America

The subway is one of New York City’s defining features as it offers fast transport to almost every corner of the city. It is also one of the largest and most loved underground rail networks in the world. MTA Subway lines offer services 24 hours a day, not to mention local and express trains can run on the same routes at the same time.



Japan is still the leading on the world’s best public transport in terms of punctuality where you can even set your watch by when the bus or train arrives. Japan’s iconic Shinkansen (the bullet train) sets new speed records almost every year, and because it is so important to Japan’s economy and population, there is always a huge budget to make it safer and more efficient.



Each bus stop in Sweden will have a timetable for arrival and departure. Estimated departure and arrival times are also available for commuters to keep track, which is further supported by mobile apps.The operations are also longer which extends from 5am till 1am.



In contrast to LRT, China’s Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) operates an autonomous optical guidance system with GPS and Lidar technologies along invisible tracks, which means that it does not run on tracks. Described as a combination of bus, train and tram, the ART urban transport system is known to be agile, low-cost and non-polluting, and has the best aspects of both rail and bus transit systems.


Photo credit: @aminabjad

What has improved for Malaysia Public Transit

The introduction of GOKL by Land Public Transport Agency(SPAD), a free bus service offering free rides to key tourist areas and business locations across KL, has made intercity travel much easier. Together with the introduction of the My50 and My100 transport passes, the frequency of commuters has increased, especially during peak hours. The packages also provide access to the LRT, MRT and MRT feeder buses, as well as the Sunway Bus Rapid Transit(BRT). Implementation of the cashless system for MRT and Rapid buses is a great initiative to help reduce time and costs associated with handling paper money for commuters.

Senior citizens, the disabled and students are also entitled to a half-priced fare by applying for a MyRapid Touch n ‘ Go Concession Card to receive discounts. With the recent announcement that the Bayan Lepas LRT project has received the government’s conditional approval. The LRT project is expected to provide a fast route to the airport and will cover densely populated residential, commercial and industrial areas in Penang.


What do you think about the state of public transport in Malaysia today? Leave us your thoughts on the comment sections below. Head over to Jobstore.com and unveil your next job opportunity.

You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

Reach me at youjing@jobstore.com

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