It's been a while since I took the bus in Penang. Several years back, there was a new bus company that was transferred from Kuala Lumpur to Penang called Rapid. This company was to improve the public transport in Penang.
It's been more than a year since Rapid Penang service started (July 2007). Since my children wanted to go to town and my car was temporary unavailable, I thought I would take the opportunity to see if the public transport in Penang has improved.
We left the house about 12:15 pm and approached the bus stop. When we reached the bus stop, there were about 11 persons there (two senior citizens, 3 children included). We spoke to them and they told me that they have been waiting there for more than 15 minutes but have not seen a single bus throughout that time - passing either side of the road. They were visitor from Medan in Indonesia.
This is the busiest road in Penang and yet not a single bus passed by the road for more than 20 minutes unbelievable. My children and I joined the wait.
We waited for the next 30 minutes. During this time, we saw six school buses, two factory buses, three ambulances and a few hundred cars pass us by but not a single RapidPenang bus.
My children initially had fun. As the vehicles passed, it caused the fumes and wind at us. My son said, "Whee, Aircondition but very smelly!"
As the ambulances passed, my daughter imitated the sound, "Wee Oooo, Wee Oooo!" Half an hour later three more persons joined the wait. They were regulars. We asked them if the bus to Komtar came through here and they said, "Yes!"
The day was hot but we continued to wait. After another 10 minutes, the visitors from Medan decided to go to another bus stop across the street. After another 20 minutes, we decided to abort the trip and go home.
Needless to say, my children was disappointed. My daughter was sleepy from the long wait. As a consolation to my children, I bought them some tidbits from a nearby convenience store.
This little experience confirmed that the public transport in Penang has not improved much. This is the reason why the number of private cars and motorbikes are increasing in Penang. We have no choice, we cannot get anywhere without it!!
We would like to save money especially with the high price of petrol but we also need to get to work. We cannot afford to wait countless hours waiting for buses that never show. Also think of the impression of visitors to our country.
It is times like this I envy the places with efficient public transport.
My heart also goes out to the many whose only option to get around is by public transport.