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KUALA LUMPUR: THE Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has no plans to cease the free GO-KL bus service, following protests from taxi drivers here.
Its chairman, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, said the free service was here to stay as public convenience was paramount.
"We started GO-KL based on public demand and found that they like it and find it convenient. It is especially popular among tourists. Therefore, stopping it would not be sensible."
Syed Hamid said the commission had carefully studied the GO-KL routes prior to its launch to ensure that it did not obstruct taxi drivers' activities.
"We do not intend to deny them their livelihood. They are free to operate on the fringes of these routes.
"Furthermore, there are no valid figures to show a correlation between the GO-KL service and a reduction in taxi passengers."
A group of taxi drivers from the Association of Bestari Taxi Drivers of Kuala Lumpur held a meeting with SPAD officials on Wednesday to voice their grouses against the free GO-KL buses which they claimed had affected their earnings.
Prior to that, a group of taxi drivers held a demonstration near Jalan Bukit Bintang on Tuesday evening, causing a massive "rush hour" traffic jam that only ended at 7.30pm.
Syed Hamid said the group aired nine grouses during the two-hour meeting, which he promised to look into.
"They raised issues such as the lack of taxi terminals in Bukit Bintang and were also unhappy with the coupon system enforced at KLCC and Pavilion KL shopping complexes.
"SPAD is not exclusively responsible for all their grouses, but we have promised to sit down with the relevant agencies, such as the police and City Hall, to find an amicable solution."
The GO-KL bus service, which covers the central business districts of KLCC-Bukit Bintang and Central Market-Bukit Bintang, was launched on Aug 31 to further improve and promote public transportation.
Currently, SPAD has mobilised 15 buses which operate daily from 6am to 11pm, and can accommodate up to 60 passengers on each trip.
The service has been praised especially for its frequency (buses arrive every five minutes) and the free WiFi available on the bus.
The service transports close to 9,000 passengers daily, in only its first month of operations.