Betting on better public transport

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Opportunity costs are something that macroeconomists and town planners need to consider seriously where traffic congestion is concerned. Asian urban centres used to be synonymous with massive jams. Not any more, at least in cities where political will, urban vision, bureaucratic efficiency, and a consultative culture can be found. Malaysia belongs to one of those countries where economic progress has worsened – and indeed hitchhiked on the back of – excessive car ownership. The country can ill afford precious time being wasted by productive people stuck on the roads.

THE IMAGE OF a CEO with a full business suit opting to hop onto an LRT or monorail instead of taking his chauffeur-driven car is not one we Malaysians can easily imagine, although this is common practice in countries with an efficient public transport system. Singapore, for example, has more than 60% of its population taking public transport, a drastic difference from Malaysia, where the corresponding figure is only 10%.

Today, only 60% of the population resides within 400 metres of a public transport route. Anyone residing in Penang or the Klang Valley can testify to horrid traffic jams and endless hours wasted weaving through a daily gridlock on the road.


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