Friday 14 September 2012

'Lower car prices wont add to traffic'

PKR’s plans to lower car prices would have little impact on traffic congestion, said the party’s director of strategy Rafizi Ramli.

NONEHe told a forum in Kuala Lumpur, last night that studies have shown that vehicle ownership is relatively “inelastic”.

“In layperson’s terms, people buy cars as a necessity, not because they like collecting cars.

“Even if car prices drop in half, it does not mean a family of five would suddenly buy ten cars... It does not work that way,” he said.

Rafizi was addressing concerns that PKR’s plans to lower car prices would worsen traffic congestion in cities such as Kuala Lumpur.

Also present, DAP national publicity chief Tony Pua said the number of cars in the Klang Valley already matches its population.

Even if there were more cars, there are not enough people to drive them on the roads at the same time, he said.

Rather than buying more cars, he said it is also more likely that people would simply buy a better car, or the car they originally wanted at a lower price.

Both speakers agreed that the public transport system needs to be improved in order to relieve the congestion.

More buses needed

Pua said that although Singapore has an excellent rail transit network and a similar population size as the Klang Valley, it is served by a fleet of 3,300 buses.

azlanIn the Klang Valley, he said there are only 1,000 buses, although the region needs more buses than Singapore because it is about three times larger in size.

He also criticised large transport hubs such as the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan in Cheras, saying that what is needed is to have many small hubs instead of one large one.

Pua added the MRT project is a necessary long-term plan, but would not work without sufficient buses.

He estimated that it would cost RM1.5 billion to raise the number of buses to 4,000 and decongest the streets within six months to a year, compared to the MRT’s RM50 billion price tag over five years.

“But they (the government) refused to do it, why? I can only guess. If your buses cost about RM600,000 to RM700,000, people would immediately say it is overpriced.

NONE“Your MRT, whether it is RM40 billion, RM50 billion or RM60 billion, nobody can tell if you have overpaid, because it is very difficult to compare.
“If we say RM50 billion is too expensive, they could say, ‘No, we have special tunnels, our tunnels are longer, and our soil is of different condition,'” he said.

Meanwhile, Rafizi said it would only cost RM2 to RM3 billion to upgrade Klang Valley’s bus network to Seoul, South Korea’s standards.

“Compare that to taking five years (to build), and to invest and owe RM50 billion on (the MRT system) that is not comprehensive because it only adds two train lines.

“Therefore if there is criticism that our policy ignores the public transport system, the method used by BN would damn us in five years. Even worse, it would not solve (the congestion problem),” he said.

Rafizi described that in Seoul, the buses complementing the subway system are subsidised and arrive at stop in five-minute intervals, have special lanes, and runs whether there are passengers to pick up or not.

“This shifts a lot of traffic and passengers off the roads, especially when we ensure that the connectivity is good,” he said.

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