The transport sector in our country seems to face quite a lot of problems. We have all heard about taxis and the problems they pose to both the public and foreigners who visit our country.
The school bus dilemma which many parents confront, year in and year out, is nothing new. Every year, before the new semester begins, school bus operators are certain to demand for an increase in their fares. The authorities, on the other hand, has time again, threatened the school bus or bas sekolah operators, their intention to replace 30 year old school buses with new vehicles. This has led to much hue and cry from bus operators themselves.
The only bus service operators who seem to be providing quite a good transport service in Malaysia to the public, happens to be the factory buses or the bas kilang operators. They appear to be doing a reasonably good job for the time being.
Recently a few bus companies have approached the authorities, that is, the government for assistance. The bus companies reiterate, that they are running at a loss. Unless the authorities step in to assist them, some bus companies have announced they will have to suspend their services to the public.
If this happens, it’s the public that will suffer. Bus transport services are extremely important, especially to the poorer strata of our society. Because of it, the Federal Government has agreed to launch a plan to assist bus transport companies out of their woes.
Besides financial problems faced by most bus transport companies in our country, the more serious problem faced by the above companies must surely be the problem of accidents involving tour and express buses.
The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research or MIROS, has recently come up with a decision which the public has long awaited for MIROS says it has finally found that double-decker buses are unsafe and unsuitable for long journeys, and especially on winding roads such as Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands and Fraser’s Hill for example.
Why has MIROS reached such a major decision?
Amongst the reasons why the authorities insist that double-decker buses are unsuitable are:
i. The construction of buses could affect its stability and as a result, pose a high risk.
ii. MIROS also is of the opinion, that double-decker buses were found to be suitable to be used within town areas or highways, and not on winding roads or hilly areas. Good examples are in Great Britain and Hong Kong, for example, where most double-decker buses are mostly used in city and town areas only
iii. As a result, the use of double-decker buses in mountainous regions with steep slopes, like in Sabah, Sarawak and areas like the Cameron Highlands, are most unsuitable. The example of how a group of visitors from Brunei had their bus express crashed into a raintree, killing 7 passengers, should be a good lesson to our authorities regarding the suitability of double-deckers in the future.
Regarding the incident, Malaysian Puspakom officials, are currently in the process of investigations on the 44 seater bus, to as certain what caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle along KM9 Tamparuli-Ranau trunk road.
To sum up the unsuitability of the double-decker bus for long journeys and hilly, winding roads, according to the study of physics, double-decker buses have a high centre of gravity and therefore are not suitable for use in such dangerous areas. They are said to easily topple over.
Due to the latest revelation by MIROS or the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety research, the Deputy Transport Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri, has finally called upon SPAD or the Land Public Transport Commission and the CVLB or Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board, to review the routes for double-decker buses. Both SPAD and CVLB are the authorities that are responsible for issuing bus permits’ usage in our country.
For readers’ information, the use of double-decker buses needs approval for safety inspections by the Road Transport Department or JPJ’s automotive engineering division, as well as its computerized vehicle inspection centre or Puspakom. Meanwhile, the Deputy Transport Minister also revealed that there were a total of 6,872 road fatalities that were reported last year. A total of 1% involved bus accidents.
I earnestly hope that a concrete decision on the use of double-decker buses on long journeys, hilly and winding roads, will be made by our authorities in the very near future. Whatever the decision of the authorities may be, MIROS call will definitely not go unchallenged. Bus operators and especially the Pan Malaysian Bus Operators, will most likely be putting up a protest against it.