In this modern period of globalization, public and private transportation have become the medium used by people as their travel mode. Public transport is defined as the system of vehicles such as buses and trains that operate at regular times on fixed routes and are used by the public according to the (dictionary.cambridge.org, 2017). Private transport, on the other hand, is defined as vehicle owned or handled by an individual or group, not a governmental entity, for his or its own purposes or benefit according to the (transport-dictionary.org, 2008). More often than not, public transport is recognised as the best alternative in traveling when compared to private transport.
One of the reasons behind this is that it reduces dependence on oil supplies that is decreasing rapidly (“Benefits of Public Transport”, 2015). Public transport is also distinguished to be safer than driving a car (Steg,2003). Besides, using public transport also encourages the people to have an active and healthy lifestyle especially when they are walking or cycling to their station (“Benefits of Public Transport”, 2015). Moreover, taking public transport aids in stimulating a sense of community among the commuters (“Benefits of Public Transport”, 2015).
However, the increase in private transport commuters in Kuala Lumpur as stated by Mohamad and Kiggundu (2007) brings up the question of why people still be more partial to use private transport instead of taking up public transport despite public transport is perceived in having a lot of advantages. Hence, this paper is aimed to converse about the best transport mode in Kuala Lumpur in terms of cost, time and convenience based on the studies and surveys that have been done. There are several reasons why public transport can be a better option in travelling rather than private transport and the researchers also state in their articles the reasons as well as ways to make the public transport a better option in travelling. Since the early 1980s, the motorization process in Kuala Lumpur has been going on almost unhindered. An important challenge posed by the recent rapid motorization phenomenon in Kuala Lumpur is increasing traffic congestion. Traffic congestion is a major urban problem in many cities both in the developed and developing world.
Aside from the above challenge rapid motorization is also responsible for the increasing air pollution, car accidents and the unpleasant noise in Kuala Lumpur.Turning to the issue of air pollution, motor vehicles have been blamed for the high levels of suspended particulate matter in the air. According to the SMURT-KL study, in 1997, there is a problem with the ambient air quality in Kuala Lumpur with unfavourable conditions prevailing at busy traffic crossings. Extensive use of private vehicles in Kuala Lumpur has also affected visibility and increased the occurence of asthma and conjunctivitis. In this situation, government policy encourages people to use public transportation instead of their private car for reduction of traffic congestion and air pollution (Hwe et al., 2006; Ismail and Hafezi 2011),as well as, environmental concerns (Anable 2005).In Malaysia there are growing use of public transport number such as commuter train, busses, minibus, mass rapid transit (MRT),light rail transit (LRT) but people use this public transport are less as compare to private vehicle even though people are understood that private vehicle can cause traffic congestion causes longer travel time, pollution, and high consumption of non-renewable energy resource (Hafezi and Ismail 2011b).Public transport should become part of a solution for sustainable transport in the future. However, in order to keep and attract more passengers, public transport must to have high service quality to satisfy and fulfill wide range of different customer’s needs (Oliver 1980; Anable 2005).
Van Vugt et al., (1996) conducted an investigation of the motivational factors underlying the decision to commute by public transportation. The findings provided strong evidence for the conclusion that individuals prefer options yielding shorter travel time as well as an alternative with high frequency of public transport. Beirão and Sarsfield Cabral (2007) summarize advantages in using public transport according to Portugal public transport users. The result highlights the importance of a cost friendly and less stressful public transport service. It is perceived as less stressful since there is no need to drive, it is possible to relax and one may be able to rest.
In order to attract prospect passenger, public transport operator must improve their services to accommodate wide range of customers need and expectation (Beirão & Sarsfield Cabral 2007; Andreassen 1995). Cost is one of the three main elements that are considered in this study. The only price one has to pay when using public transport service is the ticket fare which is cheap. Whereas, when using the private transport such as cars, the user has to bear all the cost that is required to pay for the petrol price, the parking fees and also the toll fees. Besides, as stated in the study by Fenn (2017), additional expenses need to be considered such as the car maintenance cost, car insurance charges, and tax charges when using private transport.
All these expenses spent on the private transport in total contributes to the total expense of traveling by private transport to be higher than traveling using public transport. People prefer using public transport, especially when traveling longer distances because it is cheaper as they only have to bear the ticket fare compared to the all the expenses like toll price, parking ticket fare and petrol price, that one has to bear while traveling in private transport. As stated in the study by Fenn (2017), public transport also offers season tickets or advance booked tickets, which makes the ticket cheaper than its usual price. This serves as a definite privilege for the people who frequently uses public transport in traveling or planning a trip in advance.
Moreover, the person who regularly uses public transport can apply for the concession card which is the personalized smart card that allows certain groups of people to pay for the basic bus services and trains at a subsidized rate (“Concession Card”, 2015). For instance, passengers with disabilities are eligible for the public transport subsidies and fare reductions (Dave, 2014). This will ease the financial weight when traveling as they can spend lesser compared to those not using up the concession card while traveling to the same place using the public transport. In term of cost, public transport is the choice of the commuters to travel in Kuala Lumpur compared to private transport since fewer expenses are needed when traveling through public transport.
Time is also one of the important elements measured in this study. The study by Polat (2012) says that as the journey time becomes longer, the tendency for the search of alternative transport modes escalates. In using the car as the transport mode, the time it takes mainly comprised of the traveling time and also the time taken to find parking in the mall. In the case of the public transport, the time took that need to be considered is the time required to buy a ticket in the queue, waiting time for the arrival of the train, traveling time and also the time taken to reach the mall from the station and vice versa.
The traveling time through public transport becomes longer during peak hours especially when the commuters have to wait for a longer queue to buy the ticket as the commuters need to tolerate with inadequate ticketing counters and poor utilization of ticket vending machines. This situation takes a turn for the worse when the machine breaks down during peak hours, in which all the commuters waste their time on just waiting in the long queue to purchase their ticket. This would eventually cause the commuters to miss several trains before boarding the train to their destination due to overcrowding. Besides low arrival and departure time reliability (long waiting time), the study by Almselati, Rahmat, Jaafar and Yahia (2015) states that at present time, public transportation services have low travel speed and low frequency which contributes to the traveling time through public transport to be longer. People prefer using private transport when traveling through short distance because it would be faster compared to the public transport as the long waiting time for the arrival of the train consumes his time.
All of these contribute to the elongation of time taken to travel by public transport compared to private transport. This causes people to have a higher preference to travel by private transport than public transport, especially when traveling around a city like Kuala Lumpur. Another important element measured in this study is the degree of convenience. According to the study done by Nkurunziza, Zuidgeest, Brussel and Maarseveen (2012) on the individual preferences, comfort is the most valued element compared to travel time and travel fare.
The respondents in the survey agree that private transport is more convenient when compared to public transport. Private transport is more convenient as the commuter is able to sit comfortably in the vehicle throughout the journey unlike in public transport where most of the time, the commuters were unable to find a seat. This actually causes inconvenience to the people traveling a long distance as they have to stand throughout their journey. Inadequate space in public transport, especially during peak hours, causes it to be a challenge for the wheelchair user (Dave, 2014). Since public transport often being crowded and noisy, traveling in public transport will make life difficult for children and adults with special needs (Dave, 2014).
Traveling by private transport is also more convenient than public transport as private transportation can be obtained easily and one doesn’t have to travel or walk long distances before having to be able to use the transport. As stated by Syed (2016), Malaysian commuters have an unorthodox mindset when it comes to public transport as they expect the train or bus to drop them right in front of their destination. On contrary to how it is in London and Singapore, Malaysians do not prefer to walk as they make the weather an excuse for them not to walk (Syed, 2016). Moreover, in cases of emergency, private transport would prove to be the superior mode of transport amongst the two as it is easily obtained (Dave, 2014). Hence, private transport is the more convenient mode of traveling in Kuala Lumpur when compared to public transport.
In conclusion, based on the studies that been done, Correlation analysis suggest the top four attributes that have strongest relationship with overall satisfaction are frequency, comfortable travel experience, security on board and travel time. People are prefer for good service quality. Public transportation network should become the solution for sustainable transport in the future, which is the reason to increase customer satisfaction. The functional factor has a strong influence on customer satisfaction and need a higher attention to improve customer satisfaction. Frequency, price, punctuality and travel time are the crucial factor that is responsible in bringing higher level of satisfaction. In order to promote greater use of public transport and less dependence on car, an efficient public transport system is clearly needed.
Higher capacity transit systems, use of bus lanes, bus gates, and ITS systems are among initiatives that could be implemented to improve the public transport system. On the other hand, private transport is better in terms of time and degree of convenience whereas public transport only stands out in term of cost when compared to the private transport. Even though private transport is more flexible and offers an easier form of travel in the eyes of the commuter, but still public transport should be encouraged to travel more as it is a greener form of travel especially in urban cities like Kuala Lumpur. Besides, people should be encouraged to take up public transport as it also cuts off the overcrowding in our country and reduces the amount of total carbon footprint contributed by the private transport.