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Of Perth and Public Transportation

Kakak was off from her lecturing duty for a week (thanks to the mid-term break) and so both her and my brother in law decided to head to Perth for a short vacation. They asked if I would like to join which was nice of them and having been 9 years since I last visited Perth, it was a simple yes.
We flew Malindo Air that had some fantastic deals over the Matta Fare period and this meant hello cosy business class seats andddddd…. well.. a super friendly in-flight neighbour. He was a Sri Lankan professional who wanted to converse about so many social and economic subjects. I could safely say that we spoke for nearly 2 hours before I managed to put an end to the conversation and finally focus on my inflight entertainment. Now I hope you don’t get me wrong, it was good to talk about economics and advancement of technology for the betterment of societies. But 2 hours.. was rather long.

We had a few friends and family who recently travelled to Perth and they did give some useful travel guides for our Perth trip. One of them was to rent a car at the airport to ease getting around which made whole sense considering we were also travelling with a one year old but BIL being BIL insisted that we should rely on public transports. And was I in for a surprise guys.. You will know why as you continue reading.

To give you some background of how I am with public transports – other than when I am in London, I don’t think I have ever thought of public transports as the easiest means to get around. While studying in Bristol, driving a car meant I could save almost an hour getting to Uni and with friends always happy to hitch a ride, I never felt I was being wasteful. To me personally, using public transports in Malaysia is a rarity and it wasn’t until a car accident I had earlier this year did I ever find the need to use them. Again, it was my one in a million kind of BIL who influenced and got me to travel with LRT and speaking of the accident, I think I should dedicate a post to him for helping me out with my ordeal on none other than his birthday (what better day could it be right?) and my very first experience of Malaysian public transport. If you’re reading this, thanks again BIL.

Anyway, back to Perth.. Our flight landed at 1am which again supported the idea of renting a car as there was a possibility of no-taxi and of course for safety reason. However, BIL said he had consulted a police officer friend who works with the Perth Police Department (your vast network I can’t keep up BIL) and he assured that all metered taxi had CCTV connected to the police so taxis are actually one of the safest means of transportation in Perth. That said, we collected our bags, went through a thorough custom declaration and exited the airport following the Taxi signage. What I found interesting was Perth Airport had a dedicated pick up point for ride sharing riders and in fact it was more convenient to jump on a ride sharing than to get to the taxi. But please note this important note that only Taxis are allowed to transport babies and toddlers without a car seat. To have car seats on all other forms of cars is a mandatory requirement.

When we got to the taxi stand, there was a long queue of taxis waiting for passengers. Now that was a relief, phewww. The taxis are unlike those special airport limousines you see in KLIA, they are really just normal everyday-taxis lining up for passengers. It hit me that time and I asked myself the question that has always been on my mind – why does KLIA require special taxi and payment upfront? Perhaps it’s because our normal taxis always haggle and are known to deceive customers. Or perhaps.. that-something-about-politics which I don’t get. Anyway, the taxi ride was good and the driver was professional and efficient enough in helping to load and unload our belongings. Check in at Novotel was also fast and easy and out of exhaustion, all of us slept like a log that night.

We woke up fresh the following morning all ready and excited to explore Perth. We thought of heading to the city by enjoying the convenience of Perth’s Central Area Transit (CAT) busses which were free of charge – oh yes, free public transport spotted! A small info for your future reference, Perth CAT busses run along the main roads. Our hotel was actually only 100 meters away to the nearest Perth CAT bus stand but the strange truth was that we never actually got onto the bus.. Nope, it was not because the bus was bad or it never arrived. The busses appeared to look modern, clean and very inviting in fact. It was just that the city of Perth is blessed with large beautifully paved pathways and we enjoyed the walk so much that we wanted to just keep walking. Fine that the temperature was bordering 30°C and humidity was lower than Malaysia but the opportunity to walk freely and safely was something we had all missed. Why oh why Malaysia do we not have walkways. Even when we do, they are not done 10-15 feet walkways but instead 3-5 feet with holes and uneven pavements.. Perhaps and hopefully once the MRT is fully functional, the many city councils will start putting emphasis on walkways.

That afternoon we made a decision to head to Fremantle for sightseeing and deliberated the choices of public transports which were bus, train or ferry. To be honest, we preferred and wanted the ferry ride but were taken aback by the journey time (over an hour) and its extravagant price of AUD40 per person. BIL and I did some googling and then we decided to opt for the train which only costed us AUD4 per person (price of cup of coffee) and a journey time of only 28mins. Ahah, rail for the win!

Now, living in Kajang and having driven past the Kajang Train Station multiple times, my expectation of Perth was of a similar level. But yet again, Perth surprised me with a wonderful station with plenty of facilities designed for the disabled group. To add to this, we found that pushing a stroller was incredibly convenient. The train to Fremantle arrived 5 minutes earlier of the scheduled time and it departed on time indeed. It was clear to see that rail plays an important part in the commuting of a wide range of society. We witnessed school children embarking on the train as they finished school, we saw the elderly group with their groceries and not to mention the corporate group in their suits. I now understand why the government of Malaysia has opted to spend abundantly on public transport as it really is the Future.

The true wealth here does not lie in owning a car, not owning one is what it is and I would so much love to be able to enjoy the same quality of life that the Australians are blessed enough to have. For the price of a cup of coffee, it will be great to be able to travel in and out of the city in ease and comfort and what a bonus it becomes if I can also start travelling to other cities in the same way.

I will share another blog on the activities we did while in Perth. I thought it was significant that I first blogged on public transportations as that was one of the main highlights of my experience in Perth. It did not need Formula 1, any tall building or stylish cars for Perth to impress me. It was those simple conveniences for people’s mobility that won my heart over. The ability to walk to your destination or rely on public transport in ease and comfort are the true luxuries 👍🏼. 

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