SPAD mulls introducing tuk-tuks as cheaper alternatives to taxis

KUALA LUMPUR: The motorised tricycle or popularly known as "tuk-tuk'' in Thailand may be making its presence on our roads as Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) is mulling to introduce it as a cheaper alternative to taxi by end of the year.

It is learnt that the proposal for motorised and electric tricycle is seriously being considered by SPAD as a new mode of public transport and paratransit for the disabled, in view of the impending taxi fare increase that will take place this year.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said that he was keen to introduce soon the motorised tricycle as a cheaper alternative in the suburbs.

"This type of flexible public transport vehicle should be encouraged since it fits the requirements for higher frequency of service, (it is) cost effective, easy to operate and can offer affordable fares for the masses especially for workers, college students and school children," he said.

It is also learnt that the "tuk-tuk" – commonly known as Autorick, Baby Taxi, Bajaj, Coco, Mototaxi, Pedicab or Tempo in other parts of the world – will act as urban feeder service for townships and housing estates to ferry passengers from LRT, KTM and future MRT stations as well as public transit hubs.

theSun understands that SPAD may propose that motorised tricycles operate within 10km to 25km radius in the suburbs.

"If I could, I want to see it (implemented) as soon as possible. Much better if it's electric tricycle as it is environment-friendly and cheaper to operate in the longer run," said Syed Hamid.

"But it will depend on Road Transport Department's approval to determine whether the motorised tricycle – conventional or electric vehicle – is a roadworthy public transport," he added.

Last year, Philippines launched electric tricycles or e-trike, aided by a US$300 million loan from Asian Development Bank with the aim to put 100,000 e-trikes on Philippines' streets by 2017.

Thailand has embraced electrified tuk-tuk two years ago while Vietnam has started since November a trial run for electric vehicles to serve as shuttle between terminals for air travellers and staff at Noi Bai International Airport.

Asked about the prospect for tricycles to operate in city centres, Syed Hamid said: "I don't think that's feasible. This mode of transport is more suitable for suburban areas."

SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal said the commission is finalising several plans to beef up the urban feeder service including the possibility of introducing the motorised tricycle as a new type of public transport.

"We are considering all forms of paratransit service," he said.