I prefer taking public transport to work. I think a lot of people don’t appreciate the value of public transport – either that or I’m super lucky every damn day. 1. Public transport is cheap – It’s the cheapest way to get someone else to drive you places. Your total fares per day may seem high (mine is RM 8.10) – but the fact is that in Kuala Lumpur, RM 8.10 is barely enough to cover your parking charges, let alone your fuel and road toll costs. For me, RM 8.10 a day is get someone else to drive you home is a bargain! That comes up to RM 178.20 a month, considering that the average month has roughly 22 working days.
2. Public transport is faster – This may seem counterintuitive, and this is because it’s not always true. However, this holds true for me. Despite the fact that I take one monorail, one light rail transit train AND one bus home (that’s three different modes of public transport – and three sessions of waiting for something to come), I actually get home on average half an hour earlier than if I were to drive every day. How is this possible? Traffic jams. Taking two trains that can’t be obstructed by cars saves me an enormous amount of time. If the bus frequency were actually regular (which it isn’t thanks to traffic jams), I would be able to get home 45 minutes to an hour earlier on average (of course, this is an example of faulty logic, since if it didn’t jam, I could get home in 30 minutes – public transport would take 50 minutes if it didn’t jam – but if it did jam, driving would take 1 hour 45 minutes on average and public transport would get me home in an average 1 hour 15 minutes including waiting time).
3. Public transport alleviates stress – Public transport is simple. You get on the train. Squeeze with people until the desired stop and get off. Yes, this is less comfortable than a car. But getting squished by other people isn’t so bad compared to braving Kuala Lumpur’s jams. Imagine being squished in your car by other cars. And buses. And motorcycles. Then, imagine moving inches at a time. On public transport, I can be reading a newspaper, listening to music or even playing a video game. If I were in a car, I can’t do any of those – I’d then lose my spot to some crazy driver who is trying to play bumper cars in real life.
Those are the three main advantages for public transport I can think of. There are numerous others. I am aware of the many problems with Malaysian public transport, among them being bus frequency (actually a fault of the traffic jams – and is really a chicken and egg problem), reliability, overcrowding, etc. but I think the chief reason is people making excuses not to take it. There are always a few genuine excuses in there, like there’s no bus going to my housing estate and so on – but I’m highly doubtful that that many of the drivers in KL can honestly claim that. Part of public transport is finding your way around – and it may surprise you how fast it can be, despite the number of interchanges you might need to make. There’s also an impression that only lower income people should take the bus – this is incorrect. Go to any developed country and look at who takes the buses.