Free e-bus rides from January

Sebastian Ting

KUCHING: Sarawak will be the first state in Malaysia to have public buses running on electric power or e-bus beginning January next year.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Datuk Sebastian Ting in announcing this, said the e-bus rides will be free for all locals and tourists.

He explained that the e-buses would provide convenient transportation alternatives for commuters covering important routes in Kuching City.

“This includes Kuching International Airport, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Old Kuching Heritage Trail, private medical centres, education institutions, shopping malls, MBKS (Kuching South City Council) Stutong Community Market, Kuching Sentral Express Bus Terminal and Malaysia-China Friendship Park,” he said in a text-of-speech read by the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee at the Sarawak Tourism Coordination Committee (STCC) meeting here today.

Apart from standard features such as priority seats and wheelchair-friendly, the e-bus leverages on digital technology where all units are equipped with free Wi-Fi internet access, real time broadcasting content control system, live view of passenger counter, live view onboard close-circuit television (CCTV) system, mobile apps friendly and global positioning system (GPS) tracking.

On another note, Ting said the process of digitalisation which has become the new normal in many industries due to the Covid-19 pandemic will play a significant role in ensuring the success of the ministry’s rehabilitation plans for the tourism industry.

“Utilisation of Sarawak Travel App as part of Covid-19 Sarawak Tourism promotion campaign is vital as it can be a great promotion and marketing tool for our tourism.

“My ministry will also look into enhancing Sarawak Travel App by integrating e-commerce platform into it to allow tour agencies to promote and sell their tour packages online,” he said, adding that the app would provide a convenient one-stop service for tourists to search info on places and available tour packages for purchase.

He added that the ministry is also actively pursuing many projects to establish and upgrade more tourism products and attractions under the 11th and 12th Malaysia Plan.

“Under 11MP, my ministry has completed a number of potential tourism projects totaling RM265,927,000,” he revealed.

He said for the past five years, the ministry had successfully trained 1,045 local community participants through tourism awareness programmes, entrepreneurial skills development, handicrafts, digital media promotion, homestay and arts and culture courses.

“We have conducted over 100 trainings and courses/workshop. All our courses and trainings are done in collaboration with expertise and professionals of various fields from training institutions.

“This is to maintain the standard of our training and courses in order to provide latest skills, knowledge and the know-how in delivering excellent services.

“The enhanced knowledge, skills and attitude will definitely prepare our tourism industry operators and frontliners for the return of visitors in the near future,” he said.