KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia will focus on fully realizing its rail infrastructure and the introduction of electric-powered public transport as part of its new national transport policy, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday.
Speaking at the launch of the National Transport Policy 2019-2030, Mahathir said the country's railway infrastructure need to be upgraded and better utilized to handle an increasing load of passengers and freight cargo.
"The use of railways is still low. Heavy vehicles are still using our highways. Sometimes these big and heavy vehicles can cause accidents, so it would be better for large and heavy freight to be transported on the existing railways.
"Also to reduce the traffic congestion, the government is encouraging the public to use public transport. This includes the dual tracked electric railways," he said, adding that the government was buying additional rolling stocks to service the various railway lines in the country.
The policy would help the government identify how best to use an emerging range of technologies to better serve the people, including autonomous public transport vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things, he said.
"This new technology not only challenges us on how best to use it to improve the transport sector but also to ensure that those affected are not left behind," said the Prime Minister.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the government was looking to acquire 500 electric buses for use in public transport as well as the widespread introduction of electric powered vehicles as part of a drive towards environmentally friendly transport.
"The plan emphasizes the introduction of vehicles and technology that will not harm the environment. This is not just about moving people, it has to be looked at in a broader way," said Loke.
"We aim for the introduction of electric vehicles, the use of hybrid vehicles and biodiesel and not only in encouraging their use but even the manufacture of such vehicles, for public transport," he said.
The plan outlines five core policies and 23 strategies to address the various challenges involving land, sea and air transportation over the next 11 years, with an emphasis on optimizing, building and maintaining the use of transport infrastructure, services and networks to maximize efficiency.
Key shifts include the move to encourage cargo transportation from roads to railways, to free up roads and improve safety in the transport of freight and cargo.
The plan will also push for the use of big data analysis to manage transportation as well as to encourage a centralized payment system to improve ease of usage on public transportation.