Roads and Traffic

I was in Mungkom yesterday. Where? I hear many people asking. Mungkom is somewhere in Ulu Tutong. You drive all the way to Lamunin and turn towards Kiudang and then a small side road which takes you to Mungkom. That road ended somewhere near a wasai, again another hidden treasure of Brunei. Anyway, I was there to give away a house built by us and paid for by the Majlis Ugama Islam for the fakir miskin. The family of 13 (or 17, I am not sure) were living in a dilapidated house before this. At least now they have a house to stay. This is part of the 60 odd houses that we are building for the poor. The first phase was easy. The second phase looked much harder as we are looking at about 600 applicants now.

What I wanted to focus on was the time. Despite being in really deep inside Tutong, it took us about 45 minutes to get there. Technically speaking 45 minutes is not far. I remembered in Rio when we wanted to go visit another part of Rio in Barra (pronunced Baha), our guide said it will take one hour, and that part was still in Rio. Mungkom is for us in another district and another vicinity altogether. Despite the small road etc and lots of speed bumps, we made it in 45 minutes.

Now ask me how long it takes me to get to my office in Old Airport from my house in Kilanas which is roughly 20 kilometers away starting at 7 in the morning?

The answer is not 45 minutes. It can take as much as an hour and a half on a bad day. On a good day probably 45 minutes but that would be quite rare. By the time I leave the house to get to the Bengkurong Junction, there would be so many cars from Bengkurong. The part of Jalan Tutong in front of Tasek Meradun and Bunut area would be flasing red if I had been playing Simcity. The traffic was that bad. I was asking my junior colleagues yesterday if I used the Gadong Road, would I be in a better position instead of using Jalan Tutong? They were telling me how slow it is in Jalan Gadong on account of the four or five schools along the way.

I have always advocated for more roads, and the people living in Lumapas etc advocated for more bridges especially the one crossing Kampong Ayer. Our road engineers have always argued that more roads are not necessarily good. We can keep continuing to build more roads to accomodate the more cars that we have but that would be like pouring water into a bathtub with the plug taken out. We can never keep up. The other solution was to advocate public transportation.

I always find it interesting that most Bruneians when abroad have no problem taking buses or subways. I have met many Bruneians on London buses. We never think twice about them. Yet these same people including me, would never be seen on a public bus here in Brunei. I am not even sure which number goes where. Many complained that the public bus service here does not work. But I remembered one clerk when I was in MOF who took buses and she has been recommending to anyone who wanted to listen to her that the bus service works. But since not many people wanted to use it, the bus operators maintained small buses only refusing to upgrade to bigger buses. It's a catch-22 situation.

In London, we do not have cars, that's why we use buses. So take our cars away, make it prohibitive to run a car, then we probably would use buses. But is that a solution? This is a social dilemma. Judgements regarding the decision to commute by car versus public transportation in terms of a conflict between immediate self-interest and long-term collective interest (i.e. social dilemma). Everyone can always take side when it comes to cars versus public transportation. You would be entitled to your own views.

Comments

Anonymous said…
In Australia, even though most people have cars, they still take public transport to work... this is because parking in the city is expensive and it also helps in reducing traffic congestion... Public transport will work in Brunei if the buses are run based on a timetable and they are on time... maybe its the mindset that we need to look at or maybe if the price of fuel is not so cheap, people may start thinking about using their cars less?
Anonymous said…
Is there an online website you could use to have a look at bus schedules, routes and the like in Brunei? I live in Brisbane, Australia at the moment and I have no problems getting anywhere just by having a look at the bus routes and timetables online, complete with fares. Having something similar in Brunei would really be handy, if you ask me.
Anonymous said…
I was back in Brunei after almost 4 yrs away. I happen to use the purple bus bec i had no mode of transport. Its ok if i just want to go down town and back to my house but other where else its not that convenient. I had to rent a car.
hazirah@hotmail.com said…
To the 2nd "Anonymous":

As far as I know there is no OFFICIAL website for Brunei bus information.

Here is a picture of the bus routes/lines for Brunei's purple buses:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hazm8/4067853983/

For a while I kept a record of bus sightings on Google Maps that I hoping to someday build up into actual bus routes. It hasn't really happened, but if anyone is interested, it's here:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ptab=2&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=102091211009469591657.0004768f442e9058812d3

I posted the above information because I too thought this information should be available online. However I think the fares are currently fixed at $0.50 or $1.00 for the purple buses. :) (Correct me if I am wrong. I have never gone on one myself.)

Lastly, BruDirect has some info:
http://www.bruneidirecthys.net/about_brunei/transpo_civil_aviation.html

(If anyone is interested in my Google Maps project, pls get in contact with me. Thanks! :))
ungkayah said…
I second on d terrible traffic cngestion along bengkurong-bunut areas.god forbid if accident hpns along dat road. My attendance wud b in a dumpster. But i always stayd at d office during lunch n work another extra 2 hours,juz 2 mk sure i cmpensate my time,usually m only late abt 15minutes but i nvr felt gd of being late. Gadung isnt much of altrnatv eithr,so does telanai or menglait.all seems pack.evn saturdays r jammed as well. Ppl 4rm lumapas incldng housing schemes,tutong,masin,kilanas,simpangs in bngkurung rush n share juz 1 road to work. Secondly on public transport,i feel much safer riding on a bus ovrseas .its not cnvincing here,moreover 4 young ladies. I remembr one foreign hostel fren shared wit us her bad xprience riding on a bus. She was harassed by another foreign man. It scares d hell outta her,n it got into us as well. D communication system is at its heap worst condition..d focus nds 2 cncentrate on hygiene, appearance, health,safety, client centric, disabilities friendly,insured, n please kp off d trucks,pickups, n unnecessary riders who wasnt going to work during work time. We should imposed curfew hours 4 d other unnecessary vehicles during peak time!has d govt look into ds?

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