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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Over 87 per cent of Malaysians residing in the Klang Valley drive alone to work, making the rate the highest in the world for the single commuters category, a recent survey found.
The Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) said that after surveying close to 5,000 vehicles, it found that 87.3 per cent of Malaysians who work in the Central Business District (CBD) in Kuala Lumpur drives alone to work.
The remaining 11.6 per cent were found to travel with one passenger on board, while only 0.9 per cent travel with two passengers on board.
The think tank has placed its researchers in several stations to tally its findings, namely; Ampang, Seri Kembangan, Sungai Buloh and Petaling Jaya.
Cent-GPS said based on its literature review however, the biggest correlation found with the high number of single drivers is the cost of fuel and toll.
“Frankly, the fairly affordable cost of fuel and toll in Malaysia is not a big enough incentive to urge people to seek carpooling or public transportation option.
“The cost of fuel and sitting through traffic is just not as big as the cost of having to sit and listen to your colleague complain about the boss. Yet, if the government were to increase the cost of toll and fuel, the most affected would be the B40 group, making driving to work alone a luxury afforded by the rich,” it said.
Cent-GPS said that from its qualitative study of the result, it found that many prefer driving alone to work owing to comfort and the need to spend some ‘alone time’ to gather their thoughts or listen to their favourite music and podcasts, without the need to entertain their passengers.
It pointed out that the other lingering problem is the issues associated with public transportation.
“Some even complained that the cost of parking at an LRT or MRT station was the same as parking at work. A few others complained that when they do make carpooling arrangements, their colleagues would often wake up late, all the more making the driver late for work as well,” Cent-GPS said.
It said that comparatively, US in 2018 had a nationwide average single-driver commuter rate of 66 per cent, while the other 34 per cent carpooled.
In Spain meanwhile, Cent-GPS said that around 56 per cent of workers commute alone by driving while the other 44 per cent carpooled or used public transport.
The firm said that in Belgium, the number of single-driver commuters has been declining at a rate of 5 per cent a year, adding that this group are now believed to be only around 30 per cent of road users.
Cent-GPS also warned policymakers to not pursue the idea of abolishing tolls, or continuing fuel subsidies, lamenting that these ideas “serve a back-stepping function in our society.”
“Tolls need to be seen as a function in a developing country that can begin to regulate and reduce the number of cars on the road.
“As we head into a decade where climate change will determine our livelihoods, these measures, albeit painful and unpopular, need to be taken for the greater good, for the cleanliness of our children’s future,” it added.