Going around Penang? Riding a bus may be one of your best options to travel. With many buses traversing the streets, riding a bus has become a main source of transport for many locals and tourists in the island. The premier public bus transportation company here is the Rapid Penang, a subsidiary of Syarikat Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd (Rapid KL).
Rapid Penang started operations on 31 July 2007. Its inauguration was held in Butterworth and was officiated by the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. It currently has 350 buses plying 46 routes all over the island, from Batu Maung up to Teluk Bahang. It also provides shuttle services for inter-corridor links connecting Seberang Perai to the island.
The bus routes are well-planned and organized, strategic stops are accessible at numerous tourist spots, landmarks, business centres, schools, hospitals, commercial districts and residential areas to accommodate daily commuters, travellers and the general public. This saves your travel time and relieves the stress of finding parking if one were to drive.
To ensure the safety and comfort of commuters, Rapid Penang upholds strict safety and quality control measures. In fact, it is the first stage bus operator in the country to earn the ISO 9001:2008 accreditations.
All Rapid Penang buses are wheelchair-friendly featuring low-floor designs and fully automated ramps on specially allocated seats. They are GPS-fitted and are connected to a control centre that gives real-time updates on bus schedules. Additionally, these European-manufactured buses are WiFi-enabled too.
Aside from the regular buses, Rapid Penang also offers the Rapid Mobiliti. It is a fleet of special vans for travellers with disabilities. These vans have lifts for wheelchairs. With this feature, patients may travel door-to-door, like from home to hospital and vice versa. The vans are available in the island from 8am to 5pm with fares starting from RM6.00 plus RM0.20 per each 100 metres or each 21 seconds (whichever comes first).
As at July 2016, there are Rapid Penang Double Decker Buses plying the streets of Penang. These buses can carry up to 108 passengers, 40% more than the single deck buses. Currently, the buses are used for routes 101 (Weld Quay to Teluk Bahang), 102 (Penang International Airport to Teluk Bahang) and 301 (Weld Quay and Relau). More of these buses will be introduced in stages.
Riding a bus helps you save money too. You can get to your destination with fares from as little as RM1.00. Senior citizens, school children and physically disabled Malaysian nationals enjoy cheaper concession fares.
Tourists will be delighted to know that there are free Central Area Transit (CAT) buses which can bring you to famous spots like the KOMTAR, Fort Cornwallis, Khoo Kongsi, Kapitan Keling Mosque and many more. Another free bus service is the Pulau Tikus Loop (PTL) shuttle bus. Just look for these CAT and PTL buses around George Town.
If you are a tourist staying in Penang for say one week, you may want to purchase a Rapid Passport. It is a pre-paid ticket that entitles you to unlimited bus travel for 7 days, plus rebates on participating shopping and dining outlets. You just need to bring along your passport to purchase it from any of the Rapid Kiosks, bus terminals or the Rapid Penang HQ.
Frequent travellers may enjoy more discounts by purchasing monthly passes. You just need to apply one time in the main office with the required documents to avail any of the cards below. All applications require 1 photo and RM5 registration fee. These passes are valid as per calendar month.
The Rapid Preferred offers unlimited travel around Penang. You just need to present 1 photo and a photocopy of your MyKad or passport. The price currently ranges from RM75 for Malaysians and RM110 for Non-Malaysians.
Rapid Youth is for students. To enjoy this discount, you need to present 1 photo and a photocopy of Student ID, MyKad plus a confirmation letter (indicating the start and end date of your study) from your College or University. The price is currently RM35 for Malaysians and RM55 for Non-Malaysians.
Rapid Emas is a special card designed for Senior citizens aged 60 years and above, and OKU or physically disabled commuters. To avail, just present 1 photo and a photocopy of MyKad, OKU verification card or your MM2H visa. The price is currently RM35 for Malaysians and RM55 for MM2H residents.
Rapid Intercity is for Malaysians traveling from Sungai Petani (Kedah) or Parit Buntar (Perak) to Penang. First time applicants must present 1 photo and a photocopy of MyKad. The unlimited ride costs only RM120 per month.
Finally, Rapid BEST is for those working at FIZ. It offers hassle-free travel from Sunway Carnival Mall to Free Industrial Zone in Bayan Lepas with just RM60 per month. Malaysian applicants must present 1 photo and a photocopy of MyKad.
To enjoy fuss-free bus travel, it is best to plan your trip. Check out the bus stops and schedules to avoid disappointments. These information are available at the all the bus terminals and the Rapid Penang main office. You may also check online through their official website at http://www.rapidpg.com.my/.
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