Improve public transport first before increasing parking fees, MPs tell DBKL

A motorist inserts money into an automated parking fees machine at Jalan Kenanga, Kuala Lumpur, July 18, 2016. DBKL has hiked parking rates to RM2 for the first hour and RM3 for the second hour with a maximum two-hour parking limit. — Picture by Choo Choy May
A motorist inserts money into an automated parking fees machine at Jalan Kenanga, Kuala Lumpur, July 18, 2016. DBKL has hiked parking rates to RM2 for the first hour and RM3 for the second hour with a maximum two-hour parking limit. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 ― Federal opposition MPs voiced their protest today against City Hall's (DBKL) move to increase its parking fees, arguing that focus should be given to a better public transportation policy.

The Pakatan Harapan representatives here handed a protest memorandum to DBKL and said they supported efforts to cut traffic congestion within the city, but doubt the effectiveness of a single-pronged policy that fails to take into consideration various other crucial factors like poor last mile connectivity in the city's public transportation system.

The lawmakers also said the new policy was implemented without due consultation and research.

“The tariff increase in parking bays should not be implemented [yet] because the public transportation system in the Klang Valley is still far from satisfactory,” the MPs said in the memorandum.

“There are many areas in the city with no access to public transport so those who work in the city are still very dependent on private vehicles,” they added.

Lembah Pantai MP and PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar claimed city mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz had also informed them that key agencies like the Land and Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was not consulted.

“We were informed that the DBKL did not do prior research before implementation ― what the increased ridership of the LRT (Light Rail Transit) was going to be.

“So there was no correlation between the two. But he claims there is a master plan for public transportation system involving ten agencies,” she told Malay Mail Online.

No details of the public transportation masterplan was given, Nurul Izzah added.

The Lembah Pantai MP said until all stakeholders are consulted on the masterplan, there should be a moratorium on the new parking fees.

“We do want to see people generally use more of public transportation but we have a pathetic and shoddy system...you cannot compare us to other parts of the world so it is incumbent that the government improve public transportation,” she added.

Parking fee for lots owned by the DBKL at several popular business hotspots in the capital was increased by at least 150 per cent effective yesterday.

English-language daily The Star reported that the hourly parking rate has been revised from the previous RM0.80 per hour to RM2 for the first hour, and RM3 for every subsequent hour following an announcement earlier this month.

The areas affected by the new move include Bukit Bintang, Bukit Damansara, Sri Hartamas, Desa Hartamas, Solaris Mont Kiara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bangsar.

The increase predictably drew public backlash, but a pro-public transportation group welcomed the new policy, saying this was the first step in a long and intricate fight to cut congestion.

DBKL, in justifying the move, pointed cities like Singapore as a good example. The island republic imposes congestion charge and forces private vehicles to apply for a certificate of ownership, bureaucracy aimed at making car ownership hard and forcing its citizens to use public transports.

But critics have always pointed out that Singapore's connectivity is far superior than Malaysia's.

PKR information chief, Fahmi Fadzil, said DBKL's new parking fees also failed to take into consideration residents of public flats who would be charged day and night with expensive parking fees.

In an article criticising the move, he also questioned available public transportation system's ability to meet the increase in traffic.

There are 11 public bus operators in the city with 1,500 buses which can carry about 60,000 commuters a day, according to a SPAD report. At the same time, the existing rail systems can only carry about 900,000 passengers a day.

DBKL said it aims to cut a million cars entering the city with the new fees.

“So can the mayor explain if Prasarana and existing public transportation companies have the ability to deal with the new policy?” Fahmi wrote.

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