Free bus rides for Penang factory workers

Posted on January 5, 2011. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

-The Star-

GEORGE TOWN: The state plans to introduce a Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (Best) to transport commuters from Seberang Jaya in the mainland to factories in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone on the island at no charge.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the “park and ride” system was approved at the state executive council meeting on Wednesday and is scheduled to begin on March 1.

Under the system, Lim said the commuters need only pay for the parking of their vehicles in Seberang Jaya and the state would supply the buses to transport them for free.

He said that Best was aimed at but not limited to factory workers, and would focus on the Bayan Lepas FIZ for a start.

“Anyone can ride but the destination is only the factories in Bayan Lepas, not anywhere else,” he told a press conference at his office in Komtar here.

Lim said that with this service, motorists could save up to RM250 a month on the Penang Bridge toll and petrol.

He said the state would see to awareness and publicity programmes for greater participation, adding that the details of the system would be fine-tuned and announced by state Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow.

Chow, who was present, said that for a start, 10 buses would be deployed to shuttle commuters from 6am to 9am and from 4pm to 7pm on Mondays to Fridays, which is when most factory workers would be commuting.

“We have done a survey among the factories in Bayan Lepas where 1,100 workers have shown interest in joining this programme,” he said.

Chow said a bus shelter was being built at the Sunway Carnival Mall in Seberang Jaya which would be the initial pick-up and drop off point, while 50 to 60 stops would be put up in front of various factories in Bayan Lepas.

“We will have two or three routes to serve all the factories,” he said, adding that the system should help to reduce the number of cars on Penang island and traffic congestion.

Lim said Best was aimed at helping to reduce the financial burden of lower income workers, especially in view of the announcement by the federal government to increase the price of RON97 by 10sen to RM2.40.

“This is our effort to reach out to help Malaysian workers fight the fuel price increase and subsidy reduction, which we feel is unfair as it is only borne and suffered by the poorer factions of Malaysians and not by the rich companies.

“The state government is concerned as this is the second time within a month that the price of the petrol has gone up,” said Lim.

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