By Sulyn Chong
SHAH ALAM, Jan 15 — The Smart Selangor Delivery Unit (SSDU) denies that charging bus fares on foreigners using the PJ City Bus in Petaling Jaya is a form of discrimination imposed on foreigners.
The agency said the bus service together with other local authorities, except Petaling Jaya, have been charging bus fares as low as RM0.90 for foreigners since March 2021.
“The free Selangor Smart Bus service for the people of Selangor should be seen as an ‘exclusive’ initiative by the Selangor government for the people to enjoy the abundance of public facilities provided. This bus service initiative is aimed at providing comfortable and free public transport facilities especially to Malaysian citizens who live in Selangor.
“Hence, this charge of RM0.90 is to cover part of the costs required by the state government to provide the best facilities to the public and also maintenance costs to maintain the bus services for a longer period,” it said in a statement today.
SSDU said that charging foreigners is actually a common practice for governments to differentiate privileges between citizens and foreigners using the services provided.
“This similarity can be seen in hospitals and health clinics where charges are also quite different for foreigners.
“Previously, there were many complaints from the community about the Selangor Smart Bus being monopolised by foreigners causing a debate in the community about safety issues and their rights as taxpayers.
“In fact, the implementation of the RM0.90 charge for foreigners has actually been supported by citizens for a long time because the charge is very low considering that the bus facilities have air conditioning, are comfortable as well as clean,” it said citing an article from SelangorKini on March 6, 2021, which reported that citizens agree with the state government’s move to charge foreigners RM0.90 when using the Selangor Smart Bus services which began on March 15, 2021.
SSDU said that the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has reported that almost 15 per cent of PJ City Bus users are made up of foreign users and this number may be higher because it does not include user data of those who do not use the Scan to Ride app when riding the bus.
“Therefore, in line with the implementation of the RM0.90 charge starting January 15, SSDU is committed to continue helping MBPJ and other local authorities to do more publicity on the importance of the free bus services for citizens as well as the charges imposed on foreigners,” it said.
On January 13, an article titled “NGO urges Selangor to cancel intention to impose PJ bus fares on foreigners” had gone viral on social media.
The article touches on the equal rights that the Selangor government should consider for foreign residents who use Selangor Smart Buses by allowing them to use the bus for free.