May 27 2011
You know how it often is with buses, you wait ages for one to arrive, and then two or three come along at the same time. Well, the same seems to be true with bus stations in Kuala Lumpur. After decades of neglect, Malaysia’s first integrated transport terminal, TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan), became fully operational in January 2011. Then less than four months later, what was formerly the city’s biggest and busiest express bus station, Puduraya, re-opened its doors, following a year-long refurbishment. So how does the new compare with the old?
Puduraya used to be a cramped, hot, tout-filled mess of a place. On major public holidays, or during other busy travel periods, it was like entering the seventh circle of hell. In terms of physical comfort, the new Puduraya is a stunning improvement. The terminal is now spread over four floors, rather than one, which means it is much more spacious. Plenty of natural lighting, an air-con system that works, comfortable and plentiful seating, decent signage, and clean toilets, make for an infinitely more pleasant experience.
Another big plus at the new Puduraya is that it is now linked by a pedestrian walkway to Plaza Rakyat LRT station. This means a direct rail link to both TBS and Putra bus stations, all of which makes for a quicker, cheaper and more efficient way to transfer between terminals.
So far, so good, but in some ways Puduraya is a major disappointment. Unlike TBS, Puduraya does not have a centralised ticketing system. That means dozens of competing companies, offering a bewildering array of services. The information desk is no help either. They have no central information about destinations or schedules. So travellers have to go from window to window to find the next available bus to their destination. As well, the boarding area for the buses remains as hot, noisy and fume-filled as ever.
Probably the biggest negative for travellers is that the number of destinations from Puduraya has been cut massively. KL’s former golden rule for bus departures was: if in doubt, go to Puduraya. This is no longer the case. For the time being, until KL’s second integrated transport terminal opens in 2012, Pudaraya is the main hub for northern destinations, such as Ipoh and Penang (Butterworth). TBS handles most services to southern and eastern destinations, like Singapore and Melaka, and Putra terminal is the main place to go for buses to the northeast, such as Kota Bharu.
Going to the wrong terminal is a distinct possibility, but it can be avoided with a bit of planning. The major bus companies, such as Transnasional, Konsortium Bas Ekspres, Maraliner, Etika Express and Sani Express, all have websites, with various degrees of information. They also have the best safety and comfort levels too. Another good, albeit unofficial, resource is the Malaysia Public Transport Directory.
More than ever, I would strongly suggest buying tickets in advance. The bigger companies have a presence at all the main bus stations, and can sell tickets for all their services, not just ones from that terminal. So, you could buy a ticket to Singapore from Transnasional at Puduraya, for a departure from TBS. Always double check your ticket, before you set off, and leave plenty of time to get to your terminal.
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan
Bandar Tasik Selatan, Jalan Terminal Selatan
T: (03) 9057 5804
Jalan Pudu, near junction with Jalan Tun Perak, Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Putra, near PWTC, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Public Transport Directory
T: (1300) 88 8582
Konsortium Bas Ekspres
T: (1300) 88 842538
(03) 2697 9797
T: (03) 2026 4489
T: (03) 3344 4416
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