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Public Bus Planning System In Johor Bahru Malaysia Tourism Essay

This chapter aims to outline the present public bus planning system and actors model in Johor Bahru City context. Through illustration, it could help to realize differences between the existing system and the ideal public bus planning system which has been developed in Section 2.5.

3.2 Transport Planning in Johor Bahru City

In essence, Johor Bahru City does have a transportation plan. The idea for the plan are formulated from national planning.and translated into the Johor Strucure Plan and subsequently into more detailed plans as presented in the district local plans. However, to what extend does these plans show how the planning system for public bus service in Johor Bahru? It is therefore necessary to understand Malaysian planning system and to see how transport policy and planning is translated from the top to bottom level.

3.2.1 National Planning (Five-year Plan)

Malaysia has been following a federal type parliamentary form of democracy in respect of government and administration since independence. In terms of planning for national development, centralised planning has become the tradition of the country. Particularly since the inception of New Economic Plan, centralised national planning is taken very seriously by the federal government. For this purpose “Five-year Plan” system has been followed very consistently. This “Five-year Plan” is the top level of planning in Malaysia and involved numerous agencies (Figure 3.1). At the top of the hierarchy of planning agencies are Parliament and Cabinet where the broad socio-economic goals and strategies are formulated. The next in the planning hierarchy is National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) which is responsible for guiding the production of the five-year plans. Under the guidance and directions of NDPC, various central government agencies participate in the plan preparation. They are Treasury, Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Implementation and Co-ordination Unit (ICU), Socio-Economic Research Unit (SERU), Federal Ministries and Departments, a range of autonomous or semi-autonomous agencies and statutory bodies. Inputs from the States for the preparation of the five-year plans come mainly from State Economic Planning Units (SEPUs) and State Economic Development Corporations (SEDCs).

In Malaysia, the preparation for a new five-year plan begins during the last year of the previous plan period (for an example: preparation for the 2001-2005 Plan will begin in 2000). In the beginning stage, EPU will send out broad guidelines to all State governments asking them to submit development project for their respective states for the next plan period within three to four months. The State authorities in turn send out directions to all District Officers in their respective states to prepare and submit development project proposals for the individual districts. At the district level, there is a District Development Committee which operates under District Action Committee and is chaired by the District Officer. This Committee consists of all the district level heads of the various government departments as well as the peoples representatives. This committee is responsible to prepare and submit departmental project proposals to District Action Committee. After scrutinising the proposals, the District Action Committee will then forwards the combined district plan to the State authority.

Figure 3.1: Major Bodies and Agencies Involved in the National Planning and Development Evaluation Process

Source: (2010)

At the State level, there is also the State Action Committee. The committee which consists of all the State Director of the various government and peoples representatives is chaired by Chief Minister. The committee together with SEPUs are responsible to further scrutinise and assess the proposals. The final proposals will then be submitted to the Treasury and ICU of the federal government. The Federal Ministries then based on the proposals submitted will have to prepare their development programs in order to forward it to EPU. All the proposals are then arranged sector by sector through EPU and the financial allocation for each sector will be assessed by the Inter Agency Planning Group, so that priorities can be determined and strategies of optimal utilisation of public fund can be ascertained. After the plan is adjusted, it will be submitted to NDPC for reviewing and co-ordinating proposals and policies. The plan will then be forwarded to National Action aCouncil (NAC) which is chaired by Prime Minister. NAC is responsible to undertake an economic and social evaluation of the combined plans, programs and projects. It also has the power and prerogative in respect of issuing policy directives and priority determination before and during the preparation of plan. The Five-year Plan thus prepared is then submitted to the cabinet and the Parliament respectively for approval and official adoption. The process for producing the National development plan has been established since 1961 and is a two-way process involving “top-down” and “bottom-up” flows of planning inputs (Quazi, 1986). Broad strategies which are formulated for transport sector in national level are shown as following:

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Supply-driven approach will form the basis for the expansion of infrastructure capacities taking into consideration long-term demand, development projects and economic growth in order to ensure the availability of supply upon demand. This approach will be applied particularly to large infrastructure projects that are indivisible and require long lead time;

Long-term integrated planning that incorporate a total approach will be adopted in infrastructure planning to enhance co-ordination and ensure a more orderly, systematic and comprehensive development and implementation of infrastructure;

The promotion of multimodalism in the transport sector will be actively pursued to enhance the interfacing of all modes of transport as well as related services in order to increase the efficiency of infrastructure facilities and supporting services;

Further expansion of infrastructure facilities to rural areas in order to enhance accessibility in line with a more balanced and equitable distributive policy; and

Continuous review and stricter enforcement of performance standards and technical specifications for infrastructure projects in order to enhance productivity, efficiency and quality of life (Malaysia Government, 1996a).

These broad strategies will then provide a general guidance for state governments to formulate their transport sector-base study in the structural plan.

3.2.2 Structure Plan

In the state level of planning hierarchy, the State Department of Town and Country Planning is given the responsibility to prepare the developments plan (structure plan and local plan).

Normally, the plan should have a time horizon of 5 to 20 years and contain a key diagram rather than a map and cover the non-metropolitan area. The objectives of structure plan are:

to ensure that the provision for development is realistic and consistent with national and regional policy;

to provide the strategic policy framework for planning and development control locally;

to secure consistency between local plans for neighboring areas;

to set the broad framework for planning at the local level; and

to determine the location of action area plans.

The process of preparation of the structure plan is similar to the rational comprehensive planning system (Figure 3.2). State Department of Town and Country Planning will first determine the study area. Secondly, they will translate the general proposals and broad policies established in the National Planning (Five-year Plans) into detailed sector-based studies which includes the transportation sector. Primary and secondary data based on sector-based studies will then be collected and analyzed. After analysis stage, planning department will prepare the draft technical report. The completed draft technical report will be exhibited to the public, and the public is allowed to give their comments and opinions. The planning department will compile the comments given by the public. However, the compilation has been done in the manner to merely fulfill the requirements of the structure plan.

After the exhibition period, the department has to prepare a draft structure plan. The completed draft structure plan again has to be published in local newspaper and exhibited to the public. The public is allowed to express their opinions during the exhibition of the draft structure plan. However, it is only done in an administrative manner. The department has no commitment to be accountable and responsive to public opinions. That means, the public are treated only as consultative bodies with no power to influence the decision. After the plan is adjusted, it will be forwarded to State Planning Committee for approval. This committee is chaired by Chief Minister of Johor State which is responsible to determine the criteria regarding the conservation, uses and development of land in Johor State that should be based on national policy; acts as an advisor to state government and helps in the publishing of the plan. Normally, if there is no other amendments, the plan will then be approved and forwarded to State Government. Finally, State Government will gazette the plan as statutory plan in order to guide state development and planning.

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Figure 3.2 Structure Plan Preparation Procedures

D:LJ -PSMMY Thesis1234.jpg

Source: Johor State Structure Plan 2020

Normally, after structure plan has been prepared, it will translate into more detailed level in local plan. The local plan will then be used as a guidance for producing a more comprehensive public transport plan, and again this plan will be transformed into operational plans such as public bus plan.

3.2.3 The Local Plan

In the context of Johor Bahru City, the first ever local plan for the district was gazetted in 2002. Therefore, this detailed plan has been used to assist public bus plan in Johor Bahru City and is being used to guide of the most day-to-day planning decisions.

The process of preparation of the local plan is similar to that of the structure plan as there are also the preparation of draft as well as exhibition period to encourage the public to participate in the process (refer to Figure 3.2.1). Unlike the structure plan, there is a more technical aspect to the report as it is more detail oriented and involves the preparation of the technical report. The local plan recognizes the outlines provided in the structure plan and its statutory nature and translates it into a more physical detail layout to assist the planning process. This is particular important as it acts as a comprehensive guide especially in the context of public bus planning as it proposes the provision of routes as well as all the infrastructures related to bus services such as bus stations.

Figure 3.2 1 Structure Plan Preparation Procedures

Source: Johor Bahru Districl Local Plan 2002- 2020

In general, local plan provides a guide for transport planners in the formation of a public bus transportation plan as well as assisting the bus bus operators in the in their daily operational plan. The preparation of public bus plan in Johor Bahru City will be described in the next section.

3.3 Public bus Planning Process in Johor Bahru City

In Johor Bahru City, short-term public bus plan is carried out by bus operators themselves. This short-term public bus plan will determine daily operation tactics for bus operators to provide bus services within the area of Johor Bahru City. Normally, bus operators will base on the Johor Bahru District Local Plan to formulate their short-term public bus plan. This short-term plan has the objectives to provide new bus route services, to improve the level of service, etc. within a period of three years (personal interview with En. Che Joha, 2010).

In Johor Bahru City, the departments which are related to public transport planning are very unclear. Although there is a Road Transport Act, 1987 (Act 333) and Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act, 1987 (Act 334), they do not state clearly which department is responsible to prepare the public transport plan and how public transport plan should be carried out (Wahab, 1991). At the same time, Johor Bahru City still does not have a single transport department to deal with public bus planning. Currently, there are three departments involved in the system which are Unit Traffic of Johor Bahru City Council, Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board and Road Work Department. Normally, Road Work Department is responsible for the planning, design, construction, management and maintenance of road in Johor Bahru City. If there is a new road provided by Road Work Department to link the central business district with new housing estates, bus operator (their appropriate staff members, planners, engineers, schedulers, etc.) first has to prepare the short-term public bus plan in order to submit to Unit Traffic of Johor Bahru City Council for approval. This short-term public bus plan should include the proposed new bus routes, schedule of frequencies, hours of operation, fare changes, etc. Unit Traffic of Johor Bahru City Council will then scrutinise, assess and evaluate whether the proposed services is suitable for improving the quality of public transportation services in Johor Bahru City. If the proposal is in line with the public transport policy stated in structure plan and the routes proposed comply with the existing local plan, it will be approved by Unit Traffic of Johor Bahru City Council.

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Notwithstanding, the submission has to be forwarded to Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board for their final decision. The Board has the following responsibilities (Ab. Rahman, 1987):

to consider all applications for licences for public transport services;

to attach conditions to licences and licence holders, such as fare rates, route schedules, stops, number of passengers for public transportation services, etc.;

to cancel and revoke of licences issued if the conditions attached to the licences are not adhered to, or when licences are not use for the purpose under which it was issued;

to fix the period of licences;

to make changes to the conditions attached to licences such as names, operational area, etc.; vi. to renew of licences;

to consider application for additional passengers and replacement of vehicles; and

to formulate proposals for the improvement of the transportation system, from time to time.

Normally, the Board may attach conditions [1] to any licence granted if they think fit. If the contents of short-term public bus plan are complied with the requirements given by the Board, bus operator will obtained the Licensing Permit to operate in that new area. On the contrary, if the plan could not fulfil the conditions imposed, the application may be refused by the Board. However, the applicant may submit their appeal to Minister. If the appeal is approved by the Minister, the applicant may obtain the licence, otherwise the applicant has to resubmit the application if the appeal is not approved. After applicant has obtained the Licensing Permit, he will operate and implement the new system. Thereafter, road transport officers and police are responsible to investigate and monitor the services provided. If bus operators fail to comply with any of the conditions attached to the licence, the holder of the licence shall be guilty of an offence [2] . Moreover, if the licence holder could not provide an efficient transport service in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licence, the Board has the power to refuse for renewal of licence (Act 334, Section 21 (3), p. 145).

The applicant for the grant or renewal of a licence who is aggrieved by the decision or any conditions imposed by the Board, may appeal [3] to the Minister. The Minister then may appoint a committee of two or more persons to consider an appeal. There shall be no oral hearing of the appeal and the committee will only based on the basis of the documents relating to the appeal to do the judgement. The decision of the Minister shall be binding and shall be final and conclusive (Act 334, Section 29 (3), p. 148). It is the general process of making public bus plan in Johor Bahru City (Figure 3.3).

In the context of public bus service planning process in Johor Bahru City, the national and structure plans are available for reference and the local plan serves as a tool for guiding transport operators to prepare their daily operational plans. However, the role of the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board as the final decision maker is somewhat debatable and grant the whole process of planning irrelevant.

Figure 3.3: The General Public bus Plan-Making Process in Johor Bahru City

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Source: Modification from personal interview with En. Che Joha (2010)

3.4 The Actors Model in Johor Bahru City Context

Base on the previous section, various players are involved in the city’s public bus planning process. They are technical actors, community actors, political actors, private operators and users.

3.4.1 Technical Actors

In Johor Bahru City, technical actors who involve in the formulation of public bus plan comprise two categories. They are salaried civil servants and transport experts in foreign consulting firms. Since transport plans are formulated through two tier levels of plans, again the salaried civil servants can be divided into two categories. In local levels, they are the government officials in the Traffic Unit of Johor Bahru City Council. They are responsible for the planning and provision of public transportation facilities such as bus and taxi stands, terminals and other related facilities; the planning and organisation of bus routes within the city and the surrounding residential areas to improve the public transportation services; and all activities for improving the quality of public transportation services to achieve a `modal split’ suitable for Johor Bahru City (Ab. Rahman, 1987). Whilst, in national level, they are the government officials in EPU and Federal or State Town and Country Planning Department. In EPU, they are responsible for co-ordinating the programs and activities of the ministries, looking at the overall development in the country, distribution of resources as well as monitoring progress and achievement in light of the broad National Policies (Ab. Rahman, 1987). They are responsible also for setting the direction and policy for the government on the transport aspect and accountable to the government not the public. In Federal or State Town and Country Planning Department, technical actors act an advisor to both the federal and state administrations who do not have the staff or capability. These technical actors would use their scientific approaches to prepare the plans in order to facilitate the politicians. However, they work within a closed system because they believe that public interest can be found easily through correct scientific procedures.

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Another type of technical actors are transport experts in foreign consulting firms. They are responsible to help government officials in EPU and Federal or State Town and Country Planning Department to prepare the plans. In Malaysia, most of the plans have been prepared by foreign consulting firms on contract to international development institutions. These plans have been criticised as “consultant plans” which do not explicitly adopt government policy (World Bank quoted in Malcolm, 1976, p. 107).

3.4.2 Community Actors

There are different citizen or community organizations that are interested in government policies especially those that affect their interests. As long as a certain transport policy arouses their interests, these groups will submit views to the government to take some lobbying strategies. In Johor Bahru City, there is a community actor or pressure group: Johor Bus Operator Association (JBOA) (Figure 3.4) which has already been set up since the 1950s. It acts as a representative channel for bus operators to express their business interests and to provide information to government during plan-making process (personal interview with En. Che Joha, 2010).

Notwithstanding, it is not very well organised and since the association only concerns with their business interests, it is therefore JBOA could not act as a proper channel to help users or the public to express their voice. Hence, Johor Bahru City still does not have any pressure groups to assist users to voice out their interests.

Figure 3.4: Organisation of Johor Bus Operator Association (JBOA)

Source: Personal Interview with En. Che Joha (2010)

3.4.3 Political Actors

In the state context, political actors are headed by a Chief Minister with a State Executive Council comprising not more than nine members appointed from among the government members of the State Assembly, and three ex-officio members (State Secretary, State Financial Officer and State Legal Adviser) (Rani, 1979). These political actors are the highest policy decision-making body at the state level. During the plan-making process, the State Chief Minister will play a leadership role as chairman of the State Action Committee comprising of both State Security and Development Committees with the State Development Officer as its secretary. The inclusion of all the State Executive Council members in the State Action Committee, members of parliament and State assemblymen in a District Action Committee is designed to enable local politicians to be officially and directly involved in the plan-making process. They are expected to oversee, participate in discussion, contribute towards resolving problems, co-ordinate their efforts as representatives of the people with those of government departments, and ensure the smooth implementation of development programs and projects in accordance with state and national planning objectives (Rani, 1979). In Johor Bahru City context, even though significant issues can be better identified through the involvement of amenity groups and the general public in the plan-making process, political actors are more willingly to bring in the inputs and comments given by consultants instead of by the public throughout the whole process. This is because most of the political actors have not much expertise or knowledge on transport service and therefore they have always relied upon the consultancy system for giving them advice.

3.4.4 Private Operators

In Johor Bahru City, private operators play an important role in short-term public bus planning. They would provide the input and information to technicians during the plan preparation process. They would also propose some recommendations, for an example: new bus route is proposed by transport operators for submission to Unit Traffic of Johor Bahru City Council for obtaining the approval. Normally, Unit Traffic would consider their views and interests in order to maintain stable and continuous transport services provision. After the submission is approved by Unit Traffic, it will be passed to Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board. The purpose is for obtaining the Licensing Permit in order for them to operate the new service. Now, there are five main private bus companies operated in Johor Bahru City which provide 58 bus routes in the city and around 62% of the bus routes are served in the area of Johor Bahru City Council. They are Handal Indah Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Pengangkutan Maju Berhad, Transit Link Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Pengangkutan S&S Sdn Bhd. and Triton Sdn Bhd.

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3.4.5 Users

In Johor Bahru City, although there is a statutory requirement for public participation prior to or during the formation of draft plan, the public are involved at the very last stage of the plan-making process when all the major decisions have been made. That means, the public only could voice out their views during the exhibition of the draft plans. This is because the centralized government is willing to withhold information from the public and they have always relied upon the consultancy system for giving them advice. This will lead to ineffectiveness in information dissemination. As a result, the public do not have any opportunity to participate in the early stage of the plan-making process.

Nevertheless, critics and comments could be submitted to government during the exhibition of the draft plans. It is criticized that although the public could submit their opinions and interests to planning department, there is no obligation for them to explain to the public why the opinions and interests are not accepted. Thus, the public are only treated as a consultative body, but not decision forming partners. The public still cannot play an active role in every stages in plan-making process and do not have power to bargain and negotiate with the power holders (Table 3.1). If the planning process does not consider the public or users’ interests, the suggested policies will not reflect the actual interests of the whole society. This will further decrease the quality of the public bus services provided and cause users to suffer.

Table 3.1: Comparison of Actors Model in United Kingdom And Malaysia (Johor Bahru)

Actors Model – Grant (1977)

Actors Model – Johor Bahru Context

Technical Actors – salaried officers in the planning department

Technical Actors – salaried civil servants, transport experts in foreign consulting firm and transport professionals

Community Actors – local organizations, businessmen or pressure groups in affected areas

Community Actors – members of citizen groups or business organization, Johor Bus Operator Association

Political Actors – political parties members in council

Political Actors – Chief Minister with a State Executive Council comprising not more than nine members appointed from among thegovernment members of the State Assembly, and three ex-officio members, etc.

Private Operators — Handal Indah Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Pengangkutan Maju Berhad, Syarikat Kenderaan S&S Sdn Bhd, Transit Link, Triton Sdn Bhd and City Link Sdn Bhd.

Users – cannot play an active role in the every stages in plan-making process and do not have power to bargain and negotiate with the powerholders

3.4.6 The Interaction Among Major Actors in Public bus Planning in Johor Bahru City

Among these major actors who are involved in public bus planning system in Johor Bahru City, political actors and technical actors are the most important actors. These actors involve in the planning and monitoring stages in the public bus system. However, their relationship are not so closed since technical actors always use their scientific approaches to defend the plans and unwilling to change their policies. Conflict might take place between these actors especially when the decision is determined base on political actors’ interests. The second most important actors in the system are the bus operators. Since bus operators have the responsibility to provide bus services to the public, they have to work closely with technical actors and political actors in order to obtain the licensing permit. Their relationship is close, even sometimes they have some controversial issues in terms of business interests. This is because all public bus services in Johor Bahru City are operated by private bus companies which their main interest is viability. That means a private bus company’s income must exceed operating costs and that sufficient funds have to be made available to permit any future investment.

Like bus operators, JBOA, the only community actors in Johor Bahru City also has interaction with technical actors and political actors. The association also has a close and maximum relationship with bus operators since their common interests are to protect business interests. They will join forces to fight for the common goal, if it is affected. The association is formed for the purposes of exchanging views and perspectives among the private bus companies on a general public transport policy matters as well as sharing experience in public bus planning, operation and management. They will consolidate their position on public transport issues before have a discussion with the political actors.

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Notwithstanding, since the association has the characteristic which is only concerned with bus operators business interests, therefore Johor Bahru City still does not have any representative channels to help the public to express their views. In addition, political actors are dependent upon consultancy system to give them advice throughout the whole process. The public will just play a passive role during the preparation of plans. They do not have any opportunity to involve themselves in the early stage in plan-making process. They are also the most unorganized group and do not have the power to bargain and negotiate with the power holders. The relationship between the public and others actors is minimal and in conflict since interaction is limited among these major actors. Consequently, what have been made and recommended in the public bus plan could not reflect the actual interests of the whole community and will decrease the quality of the plan.

3.5 Conclusion

After the discussion of the public bus planning system in Johor Bahru City, we find that the appearances and characteristics of the present system are somewhat different from the ideal case. This gives us some hints that the present system might have some problems, and these problems might possibly affect the quality of the public bus services provided. However, judgement on whether the present system is ineffective or inefficient shall not be given until we also look at the users’ opinions on the public bus services provided. In Chapter Four, the current public bus performance level in Johor Bahru City will be investigated.

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