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When jobs and home swapping can reduce terrors of commuting

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 07 October 2016

By Y S CHAN

THE Selangor government unveiled a transportation master plan incorporating light rail transit
(LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), personal rapid transit (PRT), mass rapid transit (MRT) and a new
KTM freight line, totaling 316 kms.

Another 130 kms in the same master plan overlaps with the Land Public Transportation Commission (SPAD)’s master plan, which is likely to be approved by the Federal government.

But if all the proposed projects are given the greenlight, Selangor will have an additional 446
kms of public transport coverage by 2035.

That will allow people in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya easy access to public transport.

But is gobbling up more of our precious land for roads and rail the best solution?

It is common to see people living in Kuala Lumpur travelling out to Selangor for work, and vice-
versa.

Wouldn’t it be better for people to commute a minimal distance for work, which would save precious time, transport cost and reduce pollution?

For example, the government should allocate one week in a year to promote job swapping in both public and private sectors.

This will allow both employers and employees to consider swapping as many people working in
similar roles and levels should be able to perform just as well in another organisation, if not
better, when stress levels are reduced.

It is hard for anyone to be productive at work after spending more than an hour driving or
commuting by public transport.

Likewise, how can one be cheerful and relaxed upon reaching home after work? Such a daily
grind is bound to take a toll on both physical and mental health.

On the other hand, if people can walk or cycle to work nearby, a couple of precious hours can be
saved every day, which can be translated to higher productivity and quality family time.

The old traditional shophouses are classic examples. In the days when motor vehicles and public
transportation were few and costly, ground floors were used as shops and the uppser floor as homes.

The prewar shophouses were mostly two storeys. Later, three, four and five storeys were built,
all without elevators.

But shophouses are no longer as secure and foreign workers have moved in with their families
after they are vacated by Malaysians.

What the local authorities can do is to encourage the building of more integrated complexes incorporating shops, offices and apartments, so that many residents can work within the vicinity.

While Small Office Home Office (SOHO) caters to a small group, these integrated complexes can house thousands of people.

The job swapping week can also promote swapping residences. People can swap residences to
stay in without having to sell off the house.

The party with a lesser property can top up with cash, similar to paying rental until a mutually
agreed date, so that both parties can live near where they work.

While it is good to improve public transport so that less people drive to work, surely it would be better to reduce unnecessary commuting.

The government should have strategies to increase productivity and quality time by introducing
measures to reduce the huge amount of time and money wasted in travelling to work.

I would not be surprised if several mobile apps are developed for people to exchange jobs and residences before the government could introduce any measure.

This is more likely to be the case as such projects do not require the use of millions or billions of taxpayer’s money.

Editor’s note: That’s why the focus in Malaysia is now on Transit Oriented Development — high density housing projects must be connected to rail and Mass rapid transit.