11 February 2023
Users of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) are asking the management to resolve what they deem is unsatisfactory terminal bus services that are offered as an interim measure while the aerotrain replacement programme is underway.
The passengers, said on social media, that they had to contend with insufficient terminal bus services besides the buses not being disabled-friendly.
Last September, KLIA’s operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), said six new disabled-friendly buses would be replacing its current fleet, with two scheduled to arrive by last November, and the remaining four by this month.
However, MAHB confirmed to The Star that none of the six new buses had arrived, even as the first phase of the aerotrain’s replacement programme is about to conclude.
“We will be replacing the current fleet of buses with six new airport buses in the near future, and these new buses will be on par, if not better, than those used at other major international airports globally.
“The initial design phase for the aerotrain replacement will conclude soon, and is going to be followed by the construction phase,” MAHB managing director Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood said in a statement to The Star.
He said the aerotrain would continue running on its current limited schedule, and that passengers were advised to arrive three hours prior to their flight departure to ensure that they catch their flights on time.
A frequent flier, who only wanted to be known as Jim, said the buses were not ideal for elderly and disabled passengers.
“As the buses are not wheelchair- accessible, boarding and getting off the bus is really time-consuming and inconvenient for those that aren’t young and fit,” he said.
The doctor, who travels frequently to his hometown in Kyoto, Japan, added that he was also frustrated with the lack of advanced notice to inform passengers about delays or breakdowns of the aerotrains.
“It is really frustrating when I pass through the check-in counter, security checkpoints and up the multiple escalators, only to be told that the aerotrain service is down after reaching the platform.
“The personnel at the multiple counters and checkpoints that I have passed through should have informed me or at the very least put up more prominent notices to let people know if the aerotrain is not in service,” he said.
In a later response to this, KLIA has since said that their current fleet of airport buses is in fact wheelchair-accessible.
Issac T, 48, who recently travelled with his five-year-old son on a night flight to India, said his son and other foreign passengers were disappointed after using the bus service.“I felt somewhat embarrassed when my son and the foreign tourists asked me if the maintenance of the aerotrains was a frequent occurrence.
“It doesn’t reflect well on us as a nation when the first thing the foreign tourists see is a non-functioning rail system at our biggest airport.
“It didn’t help that the current bus designs made getting on and off inconvenient for children like my son.
“While the frequency was fine, the buses aren’t big considering they are supposed to be for an international airport,” he said, adding that he hoped the buses would be upgraded soon.
Travel blogger Faizal Hamssin has also aired his experience using the KLIA aerotrain in a series of tweets on Dec 22 last year.
“Nothing annoys you more, after two long flights (17 hours, combined) than having to sit in a KLIA aerotrain that had not moved after five minutes.
“After 10 minutes, we were all asked to disembark,” he said, adding that they had to use the bus.
Many of the passengers, he said, had just arrived from Taipei.
“From the efficiency of Taipei’s Taoyuan airport to this mess of an airport,” he wrote.
And after reaching the bus stop, he claimed the passengers had to queue in a situation that was “almost like a light rail transit station during rush hour”.
He also said the bus had to handle twice its normal load.
Also known as an automated people mover, the KLIA aerotrain is a three-car, 250-passenger capacity train to transport 3,000 passengers an hour.
The journey from the main terminal building to the satellite terminal building or vice versa is completed within two and a half minutes under normal circumstances.
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