I stayed in PJ and worked in KL. Even though my house is about 20 minutes walk from the nearest LRT station, I do sometimes walk to the LRT station and take the LRT down to work, changing train at the Masjid Jamed Station.
Taking LRT at rush hour is no fun at all. You are being squeezed like sardines, male and female alike, in a coach which smells of stale air. It is in fact downright unhygienic since if someone with flu sneezes in the coach, most of the passengers in that coach would probably be infected with the same virus. It is also very scary especially to the ladies, since even if you feel someone else is groping you, you can’t even move to avoid and fence off the move.
That is why in most days I still drive, since the other option of taking a bus is totally out, as a bus trip will takes hours to reach my work place.
So in KL and most other urban centres in Malaysia, a car is considered a necessity, never mind owning a car may contribute to green house gas emission and help to pollute the atmosphere.
Malaysians simply have no other choice. In KL, without a car, you are like without your legs. LRT serves only a limited areas; taking bus is often too time consuming and may entail 2 or 3 changes of buses. Taking taxi is an option that cannot be exercise on a daily basis, since it is simply too costly to do so. I would not even advise you to ride a bicycle– though I would prefer personally to ride one if there are less traffic and less driver-killer types on the roads– since by doing so, the probability of you landing in the morgue or hospital ICUs are so high
So car is a necessity. But car prices are so high that for those who start work, the instalments towards payment of his car can be a bg big portion of his take home pay.
A classmate of mine sent me an email listing the price of some of the cars in Malaysia and USA> Just compare and you will see that Malaysians are paying the government (and maybe someone else) a hefty amount , billions of ringgits literally, in overpriced cars.
……………………………Malaysian prices (in RM) USA prices
Toyota camry2.4 170,000 69,000
BMW 535i 450,000 155,000
volkswagen GTI 2.0 200,000 85000
even in Indonesia, things are cheaper:
Toyota Altis 112,000 46,000
Honda Jazz 108,000 36,000
We Malaysians of all racial background are paying so much higher for our cars it is like most of us are working to earn to pay for our cars. We are also earning to pay for something that will help clog up our roads, so that we have no choice but spend hours behind wheels stuck in jams everyday and everywhere we go.
This is money that we can and should save for our children’s education, our healthcare, our old age, or purchase a roof over our heads, but we have to spend it on cars, since our public transport is so inefficient that owning a car is now a necessity.
When the public transport is efficient, like in London, few people actually drive. Most will take the underground, and they have so many criss-crossing lines that in fact everywhere within the city is reachable by the ‘tube’.
But in Malaysia, what other choice do we have except to sit behind wheels and get used to spend most of your evening hours in the unproductive pursue of keeping other equally hapless drivers company ?