Thursday, March 19, 2009

Public Transport in KL

Ah... Public Transport, inefficient, improperly maintained and not very well planned. You may dread the sound of it but some people like me, you really can't live without it. :p

For the record, I take public transport almost EVERYDAY, not because I enjoy doing so or that I have this sudden affinity to save the planet. I take it because it is economically feasible. :p

Staying in Klang, getting to all the 'happenin' spots in Klang Valley costs a lot of money. Check out the breakdown of costs if I were to drive to work:-

Driving from Klang to Office (Menara See Hoy Chan, 100km round trip)
a) KESAS Toll: RM2.20 x 6 = RM13.20
b) MEX Toll: RM1.50 x 2 = RM3.00
c) Petrol: RM0.16 x 100km = RM16.00
Total: RM32.20/day

So if it costs me RM32.20/day to drive to work and I have to do it 20 times in a month, that would cost me a whopping RM644.00/month! (Burning a hole in my pocket faster than you can say 'Timbuktu') And this does not include travelling during the weekends.

What's the next alternative then?

My sad answer is... the *infamous* KTM Kommuter. :p

Taking this option entails 'sacrifices', notably having to walk around with 'panda' eyes due to getting up at an ungodly hour of 5:30am every morning so that I have time to freshen up and leave the house before 6:30am in an effort to catch the train passing Bukit Badak at 6:54am.

Idealized image of LRT service: That's what they want us to see...

In fact, it is actually this! Sardine... sardine... :p

Riding a komuter offers some unique experiences. For one, you get 'free smells' (much like famous Amos), especially when the train is packed and the air conditioning has malfunctioned. You also get to rub shoulders with a melange of nationalities from across the greater South East Asia region: Bangladeshis, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese and an occasional African (or even a Mat Salleh who is probably either lost, broke or insane). Lastly, you get to practice your agility, bending and contorting your body as you try to weave through the masses of bodies either to get out or get in the train.

Arriving at KL Sentral around 7:50am, I will then have to hop onto the Putra LRT to Ampang Park, reaching work slightly before 8:30am. The routine repeats itself heading back. Depending on which train I board at KL station, I will reach home between 7:30pm to 8:00pm, leaving me a small window of time to have dinner, read a few newspapers and doing some household chores before switching off for bed. :p

For comparison sake, here is the breakdown if I take the train to work instead:-

Taking train from Klang to KL (round trip from Bukit Badak)

a) Kommuter fares: RM3.30 (to Sentral) + RM3.40 (from KL station) = RM6.70
b) LRT fares: RM2.00 (Sentral to Ampang) + RM1.60 (Ampang to Pasar Seni) = RM3.60
Total = RM10.30/day

Now isn't that cheaper?

Tuesday (17/3/2009) morning was a break in this daily monotony for the worse. :p

I had just so comfortably obtained a hard won seat in the train packed to the brim with people (closing my eyes, pretending to sleep to avoid those pesky pregnant women ;p) when it unexpectedly halted a little bit too long for comfort at Kampung Dato' Harun station.

"Minta perhatian, tren ini tidak dapat menaikkan angin untuk meneruskan perjalanan. Jika angin tidak naik dalam 3-4 minit kemudian, perkhidmatan tren ini akan dibatalkan di Kampung Dato' Harun" came the announcement from the driver in the control booth.

Immediately, howls and groans of frustration echo throughout train.

"The only 'angin' that will 'naik' will be ours if this train doesn't move!" quipped a lady to someone standing nearby.

Frankly, I was really not surprised. You kinda expect this type of things happening when you take the public trains, I have been through this predicament many times though this is the first time it is happening for me getting to work. Still, the optimist in me prayed for the train to get moving so that I won't need to board another train which at this point of the journey is always so filled with people, you can hardly even step inside, much less breathe if you do get in. :p

10 minutes later, the word is out. The train is officially 'ROSAK' and everyone has to get out of the train.

A few options now present itself for me to get to work.

a) Wait for the next sardine packed train to come in 20 more minutes (high probability I might not even get inside the first round which means another 20 minutes)
b) Take a cab (with Malaysian taxis choosing their customers and mostly don't seem particularly interested in picking up passengers, it will take a while before I find one willing to take me through rush hour traffic to Ampang, plus it's gonna take the budget out for my next 'Lanun' steak ;))
c) Take a bus (merry-go-round ride to heaven knows where before reaching destination)

I chose option (c) and together with the almost half of the stranded passengers, marched off to the bus stop outside the train station to wait for the RapidKL bus.

5 to 6 passing taxis later, a bus finally arrived which signaled the beginning of a stampede towards the bus entrance. After some nudging and pushing, I got myself through to pay the RM2.00 standard fare.

"Happy" Komuters trading the packed confines of the train to that of a bus, Weeee!

Now, if I thought the bus is going to make a beeline to KL Sentral, I was proven dead wrong. Instead, I was taken onto a leisurely start-stop tour down Old Klang Road, around PJ Old Town and Jalan 222 before heading down to Brickfields and finally KL Sentral.

Taking a tour of PJ

Not after a full hour had passed before I reached my next stop in this unexpectedly long journey to work, getting off the bus to head for the waiting platform to board the LRT to Ampang Park at precisely 9:05am, 35 minutes pass the start of official office hours.

Hopping off the bus at KL Sentral
At KL Sentral waiting for the LRT. I am already 35 minutes LATE! :p

I need another 15 minutes to briskly walk from the station to my office, eventually clocking in at 9:35am. Fortunately, my boss wasn't in office that day :) otherwise I would have a good chest massage with my phone vibrating in my pocket from 8:30am onwards. :p

Rushing from Ampang Park to work, it's already 9:25am

For all of you people wealthy enough to drive from Klang to KL or rich enough to afford real estate that makes the commute to KL by car not a monthly economic disaster, count your blessings.

As for me, I will continue to bed, dreaming when I strike the 'Kuda' or 'Jackpot', if not salarywise perhaps literally, someday... soon? Please? :D

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