Sarawak to start free electric bus service in Kuching tomorrow

One of the electric-powered buses to boost Sarawak’s domestic tourism industry March 2, 2021. — Picture courtesy of the Sarawak Information Department
One of the electric-powered buses to boost Sarawak’s domestic tourism industry March 2, 2021. — Picture courtesy of the Sarawak Information Department

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KUCHING, March 2 — The Sarawak government launched today Malaysia’s first-ever public bus running on electric power in Kuching City.

State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the free shuttle service will be opened to the public starting tomorrow.

“All the electric city buses are equipped with the latest advanced technology like the automated bus stop announcement system, real time broadcast content control system and video passengers counter.

“The buses are also equipped with a wheelchair facility and priority seats, free WiFi and six CCTV cameras installed in every bus for the safety of passengers,” he said.

He said each bus has its own App called the “Kuching Metro” which enables commuters to have real time location monitoring of the vehicle and the estimated time of arrival.

Abdul Karim said the bus route covers the Kuching International Airport, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Old Kuching Heritage Trail, private medical centres, educational institutions, shopping malls, Kuching South City Council Stutong Community Market, Kuching  Sentral Express Bus Terminal and Malaysia-China Friendship Park.

He hopes Sarawakians will take the Kuching City metro electric buses to visit tourist attractions, and help revive the domestic tourism industry that has been severely impacted by the travel restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sarawak is currently under a conditional movement control order but interstate travel remains restricted.

Sarawak Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (seated, left) aboard an electric bus after its launch in Kuching March 2, 2021. — Picture courtesy of the Sarawak Information Department
Sarawak Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (seated, left) aboard an electric bus after its launch in Kuching March 2, 2021. — Picture courtesy of the Sarawak Information Department

Abdul Karim said visitor arrivals to Sarawak dropped 74 per cent to 1,199,872 last year compared to the 2019 when it drew 4,662,419 visitors.

He added that tourism receipts similarly declined by 75 per cent to RM2.88 billion compared to 2019.

“The pandemic has affected the tourism industry with an estimated total loss of RM8.69 billion,” he said.

Abdul Karim said the free shuttle service is in line with the state government’s sustainable development policy.

He said the electric buses use rechargeable batteries, helping to reduce carbon footprint and air pollution.

The electric bus service started a three-month trial run in early 2019 with a single bus, covering 26 stops on a loop beginning from the Old Court House to ICOM Square.

The fleet has since increased to four buses covering 54 stops in a loop from the State Legislative Assembly to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, which is one of the most popular visitor destinations in Kuching.

“It is a good start with four units of electric bus service in Kuching and hopefully it will eventually extend to other cities like Sibu, Miri and Bintulu in order to provide a green transportation alternative for our visitors,” Abdul Karim said.

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