The many vehicle permits of Malaysia

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 12 August 2015


Commercial vehicles used for public transportation of goods and passengers must be licensed and insured.

Initially, the licensing body was the Registrar and Inspector of Motor Vehicles (RIMV), and there were four basic types of permits for goods carrying vehicles.

The “A” permit allowed the holder to transport his own goods and for others, “B” for others only, and “C” for own goods only.

It was decided that those who transport their own goods only using pickups and vans with one ton and below carrying capacity need not apply for the permits.

They would be issued upon registration or transfer of ownership, and were categorised as “Decontrolled” vehicles.

In the 1970s, the Road Transport Licensing Board was set up to issue vehicle permits and RIMV which was renamed Road Transport Department, continued to grant “decontrolled” permits.

The former was also renamed Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP) but became redundant in peninsula Malaysia when the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) became operational in January, 2011.

SPAD also took over the issuance of “Bas Persiaran” and “Kereta Sewa Dan Pandu” permits from the Tourism Ministry, which was entrusted this responsibility in the mid-1990s.

As SPAD’s jurisdiction is within peninsula Malaysia only, the Tourism Ministry continues to issue these permits in Sabah and Sarawak, with the rest of the permits by the respective state LPKP.

Buses and taxis are used for transporting passengers. Some buses are chartered for exclusive use by a group and for taxis plying long distances, passengers may only pay for a seat, sharing the taxi with others.

The most common buses are those serving commuters in cities and towns running on scheduled routes, picking up and dropping off passengers at bus stops. As they run in stages, they are known as stage buses (Bas Berhenti-henti).

Express buses are also on fixed routes but make intercity runs, and are not allowed to pick up passengers along the way.

Excursion buses, also known as tour buses, do not have fixed routes and can pick up or drop off passengers anywhere except at bus stations.

In the past, unscrupulous people exploited the shortage of express buses during peak seasons and chartered tour buses to run illegal express, picking up passengers near bus stations.

While tour buses are required to be painted green at the lower part of the coach body, workers’ buses are easily recognisable with all blue, and school buses amber, the universal colour.

Other lesser known buses are mini buses which are miniature versions of stage buses; feeder buses to and from train stations; and airport buses.

Charter buses were introduced by the now defunct LPKP to circumvent Tourism Ministry’s jurisdiction over excursion buses and remained a contentious issue.

Since 1969, tour companies operate excursion buses for their own tour groups and they are also available for charter by other tour companies and the public.

Some stage bus companies maintain a pool of buses for backup service and for charter. Those who operate luxury school and worker buses also earn additional income from charters by applying for temporary permits.

There was no necessity for a separate category of charter bus permit, which should only be a supplementary permit and not standalone.

Unlike excursion buses which require a tourist guide on board and are often stopped for checks by SPAD, JPJ and Tourism Ministry, these charter buses seem to operate in a no man’s land.

Today, most charter buses are in a dilapidated condition and it would be a matter of time for a nasty accident to occur.

Taxis are divided into two main categories – metered and unmetered. Metered taxis could be Teksi 1 Malaysia (TEKS1M), budget or executive taxis.

TEKS1M is the new standard for budget taxis in Malaysia. Initially, the only model allowed was the Proton Exora, and the Toyota Innova was added recently.

In the Klang Valley, their fares are RM4 flag fall, RM1.50 per km and RM30 per hour, slightly higher than normal budget taxis at RM3, RM1.25 and RM25 respectively.

Executive taxis will be phased out gradually and their current rates are RM6. RM2 and RM34.28 respectively, many of them are Toyota Innovas.

Metered taxis are allowed to queue at airports and fares are meter based. Concessionaires operating out of airports and train stations use the coupon system and fares are based on zones, which are usually unfair to either the driver or passenger.

Hire Cars (Kereta Sewa) are unmetered taxi found in smaller cities and towns and those that travel long distances are known as outstation taxis.

They were a common sight on major trunk roads until express buses became more popular from the 1970s.

Hire and Drive (Kereta Sewa Dan Pandu) vehicles are rented out to customers without a driver.

It can be for a few hours by a business traveller, over the weekend by a local, for a week by tourists or a month by an expatriate.

Unmarked cars rented with a driver are licensed under Limousine Taxi (Teksi Limosin). These permits were initially granted by RIMV to tour and car rental operators.

With the mushrooming of 5-star hotels, most limousine taxis are based at hotels for use by business travellers.

Limousine taxis had inadvertently morphed from tour cars into hotel limousines to the point that tour operators were no longer granted new permits or could not renew them without securing a hotel contract.

This had affected tour operators and tourism industry, as the majority of tourists do not travel in groups but are “Free Independent Travellers”.

Many of them book their transport services in advance with tour operators and not leave it to chance by waiting indefinitely for a taxi.

Many tour operators are anxiously waiting for SPAD to roll out “Private Hire Vehicle” permits as these vehicles will legitimise many unlicensed services by both legal and illegal operators.

With detariffication set from next year, many commercial vehicle operators would encounter difficulties in securing motor insurance at affordable premiums.