When the city of Petaling Jaya announced it will be charging foreigners to use its free bus service, non-governmental organisations called the action discriminatory and requested the PJ Mayor to rescind the order.
However, the Selangor State Government argued that the service initiative aims to provide services to tax-paying Malaysian citizens in the state that the RM0.90 fee for foreigners has long been introduced since March 2021 together with other Local Authorities (PBT) other than Petaling Jaya. It further adds the RM0.90 fee is to cover part of the costs required to provide the facilities to the public and also maintenance costs to maintain the bus service for a longer period.
The decision to charge foreigners is a common practice of a government to differentiate privileges between citizens and foreigners using services provided by the government. Selangor government said similarity can be seen as the same as Hospital or Health Clinic services where charges are also charged quite differently to foreigners.
According to city councils, there were many complaints from the community about the Selangor Smart Bus being monopolised by foreigners, and had caused a debate in the community about safety issues and also their rights as taxpayers. In response to the grievances, the State said the free Smart Selangor bus service for citizens should be seen as an ‘exclusive’ initiative under the Selangor State government for the people to enjoy the public facilities provided.
According to Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), almost 15% of PJ City Bus users are made up of foreign users who use PJ City Bus services. This number may also be higher because it does not include the data of users who do not use Scan To Ride when riding the Selangor Smart Bus.
The decision to implement the RM0.90 charge from 15 January 2023 will stay.