(Warning! Image intensive article.)
New Year’s Day 2011 marks the beginning of a new era in the interstate express coach transportation industry in Malaysia, with the opening of the new Terminal Bersepadu Selatan-Bandar Tasik Selatan or TBS-BTS for short.
The long awaited terminal complex situated at the south of Kuala Lumpur was developed as a hub for southbound coaches. Coaches bound for places such as Johor Bahru, Melaka and Singapore will call at TBS-BTS, replacing Hentian Puduraya at the heart of the capital. TBS-BTS is the first of three such transport hubs currently being planned – one at Sungai Buloh for northbound buses and another at Gombak for eastbound buses. All three integrated transport hubs will ultimately replace existing interstate terminals across Kuala Lumpur such as Hentian Duta, Hentian Putra and Hentian Pekeliling.
Built at a cost of RM570million (US$186million), the sprawling state-of-the-art complex is well-connected to the KTM Komuter service, the Ampang Line LRT and the KLIA Transit system via a pedestrian bridge. It has direct access to the BESRAYA (Sungai Besi Expressway) and the MRR2 (Middle Ring Road 2). Ample taxi and shuttle bus bays are available on the ground floor. Long-distance taxi service are also available at level 4 of the complex. Sited within the 6-storey complex are 2 levels of retail and F&B outlets. Confirmed tenants includes Starbucks Coffee, Kenny Rogers, Wendy’s and KFC. A range of retail shops comprising of convenience stores, fashion, lifestyle and pharmacy will also be opened.
Other amenities and facilities provided are ATM machines, prayer rooms, customer service centre, a conference room and free wi-fi.
TBS-BTS itself follows closely the concept of an airport. A centralised ticketing system, aimed at eradicating touts, are in place for all operators to make use of. Passengers will be able to choose their preferred operator with just a touch of a screen, and subsequently choose their seats. This can be done at either the manned ticketing counters or the self-service kiosk found at the concourse level. Those who have bought their tickets on the internet will need to obtain a boarding pass, which can be changed at the Boarding Pass counters. A counter exclusively for senior citizens and the disabled is also available. Operator of TBS-BTS, Maju Terminal Management and Services (TMAS) has announced that an online ticketing system for all operators at the terminal complex will be made available by the middle of this year.
Boarding and alighting activities are confined to the second level. Disembarkation activities are done at the non-airconditioned arrival platforms where passengers will proceed to the level 3 concourse using escalators. 21 departure gates lined the airconditioned Primary Departure Lounge. Ample seats and mobile kiosks are also available at the Primary Departure Lounge. Each bus will have its movement monitored upon entering the premises, and updates flashed on screens all over the complex. A holding area for buses to park and refuel are located at the southern end of the terminal complex.
Currently, only 9 operators are operating out of TBS-BTS. Many operators have yet to shift to the new complex citing ticketing and other charges as the main stumbling block. However, the authorities have announced that the temporary terminal at Bukit Jalil will be closed from 2nd February 2011, in tandem with the re-opening of Hentian Puduraya. All southbound buses will be moved to TBS-BTS after that date.
It remains to be seen if passengers and operators will embrace this new concept with open arms. They need to work closely and quickly conclude any outstanding issues that are preventing the operators to move to the complex. The fiasco pertaining to the refusal of bus operators to shift to the complex should be a lesson for all parties concerned to better improve the processes necessary in ensuring that the operations are disrupted to the minimal, and provide the general public with a world-class transport system.
Visit the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan-Bandar Tasik Selatan website at http://www.tbsbts.com.my/.
Update: Authorities have pushed back the deadline for operators to shift to TBS-BTS from 2 February to 1 March.