KUCHING: Sarawak’s first electric bus will make its much-awaited debut here this Friday, enabling locals and visitors to travel around the city centre with ease.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the CRRC electric bus would operate on a three-month trial run at no charge to passengers.
The free electric bus service will provide commuters with the convenience to travel around the city centre, especially for those from outside Kuching.
This bus will operate for three months, which will be a good gauge for us to assess the suitability of electric buses as a public transport, he said when officiating the CRRC Electric City Bus flag-off ceremony at the Old Courthouse yesterday.
The electric city bus service runs on the Route 101 loop starting from Open Air Market, covering a distance of around 14km.
It will be making 12 trips per day on one-hour intervals from 7am to 6pm at 26 stops, namely Open Air Market, Darul Hana Bridge, Chinese History Museum, Kuching Waterfront, Jalan Abell, Jalan Padungan, Jalan Ang Cheng Ho, Kuching South City Council (MBKS), iCom Square, Jalan Pending, MBKS Recreation Park, SJK(C) Chung Hua No. 3, Jalan Central Timur, Jalan Ban Hock, The Hills, Riverside Majestic Hotel, Main Bazaar, Kuching General Post Office, Sarawak Museum, Wisma Satok @ Jalan Satok, Al-Idrus Commercial Centre, Wisma Assar, Satok Suspension Bridge, Jalan Kulas, Wisma Satok @ Jalan Kulas, and Jalan Haji Taha.
Abdul Karim described the 26 stops identified for Route 101 as ‘perfect’ as it would provide passengers, particularly tourists, with the convenience of visiting Kuching’s various landmarks and heritage trail.
With the free bus service, he said this would also in turn promote the city in line with the Visit Sarawak Campaign (VSC) which his ministry and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) have been aggressively promoting, and the campaign has shown ‘quite good results’ since its launch.
The number of visitors to Sarawak, especially from other states in Malaysia, has dramatically increased to 68 per cent as compared with the same corresponding month in 2018, with total arrivals increasing by 10.72 per cent.
When we compare the number of visitors to Sarawak in January last year with this year’s, we can see quite a remarkable increase of visitors with a total number of 326,337 visitors so far, he revealed.
As such, Abdul Karim pointed out that the introduction of an electric bus service in Kuching is very much welcome, as it serves as a good transportation alternative to visitors as well as local folk.
We will start with one bus first to see how it performs and if the response is very good, we will try to work out some kind of agreement with Henz Pacific Sdn Bhd and CRRC to maybe extend the service for one to three years or even expand to two buses, he remarked.
Meanwhile, Henz Pacific managing director Henry Lai said the electric bus, which can carry up to 53 passengers, also provides facilities such as free WiFi service provided by Digi and is also disabled-friendly with wheelchair accessibility.
Apart from that, commuters will also be able to have real-time monitoring of their bus trips and the exact timing of the bus arrival or journey that they will be taking on the routes via the Kuching Metro app, which is now available on iOS and Android, he added.
Also present were Assistant Minister of Transportation Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, CRRC Asean Office director Yang Xiaofeng, Kuching South mayor Dato James Chan, Kuching North Datuk Bandar Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai and STB chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor.
Source: Sarawak Government