Hornbill Unleashed

October 7, 2016

An idea to ‘swop’ to cut commuting

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:01 PM

The Selangor government unveiled a transportation master plan incorporating light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), personal rapid transit (PRT), mass rapid transit (MRT) and a new KTM freight line, totaling 316 kms.

Another 130 kms in the same master plan overlaps with the Land Public Transportation Commission (SPAD)’s master plan, which is likely to be approved by the Federal government.

But if all the proposed projects are given the green light, Selangor will have an additional 446 kms of public transport coverage by 2035.

That will allow people in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya easy access to public transport.

But is utilising more of our precious land for roads and rail the best solution?

It is common to see people living in Kuala Lumpur travelling out to Selangor for work, and vice-versa.

Wouldn’t it be better for people to commute a minimal distance for work, which would save precious time, transport cost and reduce pollution?

For example, the government could allocate one week in a year to promote job swopping (or swapping) in both public and private sectors.

This will allow both employers and employees to consider swopping as many people working in similar roles and levels should be able to perform just as well in another organisation, if not better, when stress levels are reduced.

It is hard for anyone to be productive at work after spending more than an hour driving or commuting by public transport.

Likewise, how can one be cheerful and relaxed upon reaching home after work. Such a daily grind is bound to take a toll on both physical and mental health.

On the other hand, if people can walk or cycle to work nearby, a couple of precious hours can be saved every day, which can be translated to higher productivity and quality family time.

The old traditional shophouses are classic examples. In the days when motor vehicles and public transportation were few and costly, ground floors were used as shops and residences above.

The prewar shophouses were mostly two storeys. Later, three, four and five storeys were built, all without elevators.

But shophouses are no longer as secure and foreign workers have moved in with their families after they are vacated by Malaysians.

What the local authorities can do is to encourage the building of more integrated complexes incorporating shops, offices and apartments, so that many residents can work within the vicinity.

While Small Office Home Office (SOHO) caters to a small group, these integrated complexes can house thousands of people.

The job swopping week can also promote swopping residences. People can swop residences to stay in without having to sell off the house.

The party with a lesser property can top up with cash, similar to paying rental until a mutually agreed date, so that both parties can live near where they work.

While it is good to improve public transport so that less people drive to work, surely it would be better to reduce unnecessary commuting.

As such, I find transit-oriented developments as second best as they only provide easy access to public transport and does not reduce travel.

The government should have strategies to increase productivity and quality time by introducing measures to reduce the huge amount of time and money wasted in travelling to work.

I would not be surprised if several phone apps are developed for people to swop jobs and residences before the government could introduce any measure.

Although it would save the nation billions of ringgit, projects that do not require the use of large sums of taxpayer’s money are unlikely to be given priority.

Y S Chan


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