The government is emphasising on improving railway networks and services as it will help increase public usage and the transportation of freight, says Deputy Transport Minister Kamaruddin Jaffar.

He said railway services in Malaysia were underutilised and the government wants more Malaysians to use them, especially when major rail projects are completed.

He added the government has always given priority to improving public transport with several large-scale public transport projects under construction in the Klang Valley, such as the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya MRT and the LRT3 projects, which would boost economic growth while increasing the use of public transport in the Klang Valley.

"Although a strong public transport system is the catalyst for growth, the key always lies in the business community," Kamaruddin said in his keynote address at the 2020 Malaysia Economic and Strategic Outlook Forum in Kuala Lumpur today.

"As many of you here are in the private sector, I would like to urge you to give serious consideration to spreading your business operations to other states and cities and help create new jobs for the people." 

To ensure connectivity in urban areas, the government has also improved public transport coverage including introducing three new routes last year for GoKL's free bus service, he noted.

Kamaruddin pointed out that the first-mile, last-mile connectivity is always a challenge in transportation, noting that one of the strategies to tackle it is by leveraging new emerging technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as Internet of Things, machine learning, big data analytics and cloud computing.

"E-hailing, for example, is one of the solutions to the first-mile, last-mile issue. In today's digital age, e-hailing does not only stand as a transportation solution, but it also acts in a larger setting including through seamless payments and job creation, as well as shaping a lifestyle and economy," he added.

Kamaruddin said the government had embarked on a proof of concept programme for motorcycle-hailing services this month.

He added the trial period of six months was needed to evaluate the feasibility and cultural fit of motorcycle-hailing in the local context.

The government also needs to ensure equality and balance in the transport industry particularly between various public transport service operators in the spirit of Shared Prosperity Vision 2020, he said.

Initiatives taken by the government include improvements in ensuring a level playing field in the taxi and e-hailing industry such as opening up vehicle and model choices for taxi use.

The one-day forum was jointly organised by the Kingsley Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry. — Bernama