Kota Kinabalu City (KK) has a population of over 600,000, imagine what it is like when half a million cars compete for 10,314 public parking lots (exclude private parking spaces) in and around KK everyday with many people moving into KK from the east coast possibly for good. There is a pressing need for improvement in the general transportation system in Kota Kinabalu.
KK CBD (Central Business District) is very built up with a set of roads with little scope of expansion or improvement for the traffic flows.
KK CBD lacks public car parks both ground and multi storeyed, hence traffic is impeded by people looking for car parks convenient for their needs like doing business and other activities.
KK CBD is a narrow patch of land between Signal hill and the sea, hence we have to explore the most efficient and capable system for smooth transportation as traffic jams mean losses for every consumer.
DBKK has a proposal for Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) together with one way system in CBD and to be launched soon according to the Mayor. Buses have limitation in passenger loads and narrow roads in KK would become narrower for other vehicles if one lane in the existing road system is allocated for buses in and out of KK.
BRT using many buses and drivers may not serve the travelling public adequately during peak hours if the intention is to reduce private vehicles on the roads within CBD and maybe BRT would provide nothing beyond the peak hours or 24/7.
Special bus lanes introduced before in the 1990s were aborted in KK upon public demand as the traffic jams could not be addressed as expected. There were also proposals for one way streets in KK CBD then but till now this has not been implemented for obvious reasons of KK has limited streets.
KK needs a transport system for longer hours daily if possible for 24/7 to cater for flows of locals and tourists as tourists are coming in many numbers. Tourists tend to travel / move at all hours as air flights – in/out-are done at night, too.
KK roads in and out from outlying towns like Keningau, Papar, Beaufort, Kinarut to the south and Kota Belud/ Tamparuli / Ranau and Tuaran to the north and north east are congested during peak hours for several hours and miles of cars are seen in the limited roads. Travel on the roads can be very costly in time and materials/fuel.
Even the BRT and the one way streets in KK CBD would not solve the existing daily traffic jams throughout the day time in KK hence much bottle neck of incoming and outgoing traffic would still prevail.
Actually with one way streets in KK CBD and in the absence of adequate parking spaces to channel the traffic into adequate multi storeyed car parks within CBD , more traffic would be in the streets much longer as some parking space on the existing streets would be removed for the purpose of BRT as one streets system would mean turning off in “delayed” mode in the direction to look for car parking space. More cars would be retained on the streets in longer slow queues. One of the reasons for traffic jams in CBD is that cars take time to fill in vacant spaces in the street parking. This is inevitable as there are not enough off-streets parking at the moment.
Even with the proposed one way streets and in the absence of adequate off street parking spaces, both the incoming and outgoing traffic of the narrow strip of land in KK CBD would be much slowed down, hence unacceptable jams too. One way streets system would be effective and efficient if KK CBD can be entered and exited in four directions.
Since consumers like their cars so much and like to park as near as possible to the destinations, buses can be a low option for most consumers. Honestly, are there really enough buses to serve the consumers within both the CBD and outlying areas in greater Kota Kinabalu? For practicality purposes, how many buses would be available to move the heavy peak hours traffic for new satisfied consumers who are expected to switch from cars to buses?
Mobility in terms of time and costs for the masses is very important for productivity to be enhanced.
So KK and outlying areas should look at the better options like MRT or LRT systems immediately for time saving and ease of moving from the traffic jams on the existing streets and roads.
Basically buses would have the expected shortcomings in moving big numbers of people especially in the peak hours.
Another issue to the vehicle commuters from outlying areas into KK and KK CBD and in the very big number of cars daily, how would we find enough free of charge / low fee car parks at the buses terminals yet to be identified?
One thing for sure, we cannot wait for 2022 for a liveable city in KK and the traffic systems much be addressed beyond BRT immediately for other more capable systems to be in place as soon as possible.
Joshua Y C Kong