Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One ticket to ride

One ticket to ride (Malay Mail)

Smooth road-rail travel for Klang Valley by 2013 when two major transport operators’ electronic pass systems merge

By Shahrim Tamrin

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: GOOD news beckons for public transport users in Klang Valley.

After more than 13 years for a single ticketing system ever since the introduction of ‘Touch n Go’, commuters can now look forward to seamless travel on rail networks and bus services across the Klang Valley come 2013.

With the objective to achieve gradually to the level of electronic ticketing in developed countries such as London’s Oyster and Octopus Card in Hong Kong, public transport efficiency in Klang Valley will reach a new height with Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system.

After years of having to face different ticketing systems, preparing small change for exact fare and queuing up at counters, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) - the operator of the LRT, monorail and RapidKL bus services - and KTM Bhd (KTMB), which operates the Komuter service, have confirmed a single ticketing system would materialise soon.

Prasarana group managing director Shahril Mokhtar and KTMB president Dr Aminuddin Adnan revealed to The Malay Mail that a new AFC system would be adopted between both parties once it is in operation next year.

Shahril said Prasarana would be launching its own AFC system early next year, paving the way for an integration with the KTMB system at later stage.

“Once the AFC is up and running for our services early next year, we are ready to integrate with KTMB as their AFC system will also be on the same platform and design,” he said.

Shahril described the all-in-one ticketing system would offer a hassle-free journey for public transport users in Klang Valley.

“Commuters will only need to use just one cashless card for our LRT, monorail and bus services. It will take off early next year when the station integration works in Hang Tuah, Masjid Jamek and Titiwangsa are completed by the third-quarter of this year,” he said.

Shahril added that the AFC system would also be included for the future MRT and LRT extension services.

The station integration is considered to be the catalyst for Prasarana to launch the AFC system as it will ensure commuters experience seamless journeys without having to go through the hassle of buying different tickets or going through turnstiles to change rail routes.

Aminuddin said the KTMB AFC system for its Komuter service is currently being installed and the roll-out to all KTM’s 56 rail stations was expected to be completed in 12 months.

“The contractor will complete the AFC system for the KTM Komuter service by June next year. We will then start to commission the new ticketing system to replace the obsolete system we have right now," said Aminuddin.

New system will benefit commuters

“When everything is in place, we will discuss with Prasarana to merge the two systems as our new ticketing system design, specification and platform are almost similar to Prasarana’s ticketing.”

Both transportation leaders concurred the new AFC system for Prasarana and KTMB will bring greater benefits to the commuters for faster and more reliable transactions at the gates.

Stating the system would leverage on the present 'Touch n Go' platform, Aminuddin said: “The integration process between both parties would take couple of months to complete. It's most likely the ticketing integration between KTMB and Prasarana will take place in 2013.”

He also said that a common ticketing system was identified as part of the National Key Results Areas in the urban public transportation lab.

The lab had summarised seven big ideas in realising the government's objective of achieving 25 per cent usage of public transportation modal share by 2012.

At the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) Open Day in December 2009, urban transportation leaders had outlined seven big ideas - which include station integration and integrated ticketing across the Klang Valley, Bus Express Transit, extra carriages for KTM and LRT, Integrated Transport Terminal, Bus Rapid Transit and enforcement initiatives.

Lightning travel

NUR ISMAIL: We want to emulate the electronic ticketing success

HAVING a single electronic ticketing system is long overdue judging by the government's intention to implement this in public transport services for many years.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal said the government aims for a single cashless ticketing across operations to improve public transport.

“Ever since the introduction of the Touch 'n Go platform, it has been identified that a single cashless system be part of the mechanism to boost the quality of public transport. In future, the commission wants to see 90 per cent of commuters with cashless cards for seamless journeys and faster transaction,” he said.

The Touch 'n Go smart card was introduced in 1997 with the objective of a cashless society. It was first used at the then Jalan Pahang Toll Plaza in KL in March that year. The system was subsequently adopted by Klang Valley stage bus company Cityliner in 2000.

Mohd Nur pointed out the Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system applied by government-backed public transport operators must be gradually extended to private companies.

“With AFC, this could soon pave the way for discounted fares and a kilometre-based system for many journeys to encourage more people to take up public transport," he said.

“We want to emulate the electronic ticketing success like that of London’s Oyster card and Hong Kong's Octopus card and thus gain public confidence in public transport ridership in Greater Kuala Lumpur.”

London's Oyster card was introduced in 2003 by local government body Transport for London (TfL) with the objective of reducing queuing times and speeding up journey times. It offers vast discounts on many journeys and environmental benefits as less paper tickets are used.

With Oyster, TfL is able to gather data on the most popular journey times and patterns.

Hong Kong's Octopus card was launched in 1997 by Octopus Cards Limited, a consortium of major transport operators for the territory’s mass transit system (metro, rail, bus and ferry) and widely recognised as one of the world’s leading automatic fare collection systems and contactless smart card payment system.

About 20 million Octopus cards are in circulation, three times the population of the former British colony, and it's used by 95 per cent of the population aged from 16 to 65 years, and generating over 11 million daily transactions every day worth a total over HK$100 million (about RM38 million).

Octopus can be used for more than 2,500 service providers across different businesses including transport, parking, retail, vending and kiosks, schools, leisure facilities and access control for residential and commercial buildings.

One seamless, cashless trip

JUST one cashless card for rail and bus services

The new cashless multi-modal ticketing card is expected to provide convenience to Klang Valley commuters by 2013.

For example, an office executive staying in Shah Alam and working in Pandan Indah can board the KTM Komuter train in the morning rush hour by simply tapping a cashless card before entering the platform.

Upon arrival at KL Sentral, she will simply touch the card at the exit gate and then walk to the elevated LRT station. She will then tap the same card at the LRT station to board the Kelana Jaya line train to the integrated Masjid Jamek station.

At Masjid Jamek, she walks up to another platform by using a special lane - without having to go through the turnstile at the Masjid Jamek exit - to board the Ampang line train. It is only at the Cempaka LRT station would the executive tap the card at the exit.

When she boards the RapidKL feeder bus from the LRT station to her office in the Pandan Indah business centre, she taps the same card for boarding and alighting from the bus.

It's one seamless journey without multiple tickets to improve accessibility and providing hassle-free connections.

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) group managing director Shahril Mokhtar said completion of integration stations at Hang Tuah, Masjid Jamek and Titiwangsa by third quarter of the year would hold the key to the activation of Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system.

“The sooner works on station integrations are completed, the better. If possible, I want the AFC system to start by December,” he said.

For someone who regularly takes the LRT to work, Shahril has full empathy for the public call for one ticket for all.

“People have been waiting for this kind of system for many years. We are done with the planning stage and next year will be the crucial time for us to deliver,” he said.

He also said the cashless system initiative for bus services has already begun via Prasarana’s subsidiaries Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras (RapidKL).

Its new bus cashless ticketing system ‘Rabbit Card’ was introduced in February with encouraging response from passengers.

The RapidKL cashless system is considered to be as good as cash, with the aim to encourage rakyat to migrate to public transportation.

"I understand students prefer cashless card to travel by public transport around Klang Valley. It's convenient and hopefully people from all walks of life would take public transport including office workers and corporate executives."