Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Rapid Penang Bus Service / Bus Passes

I tended to travel quite a lot in Penang and did consider hiring a car but as with driving anywhere you tend to spend more time concentrating on driving, and especially avoiding the "Suicide Jockeys" (moped/scooter riders some of whom seem to lack a self preservation instinct when they take to two wheels!!!) here, than you do looking at the surroundings.

So for a few days I j ust jumped on the odd bus here and there which will cost you anything between RM 1.4 - RM 2 for a trip. The cost is very reasonable indeed. As I intended to explore the area a lot though I decided to look at the travel passes that Rapid Penang offer. Called 'Travel Passports" these are credit card size passes and are available either for 1 week at RM 30 or 1 month at RM 80 for the first purchase and RM 75 for a top up.

The passes are available at several places though one might question if they are strategically the BEST locations (check the Rapid Penang website for details) but I got mine from the main bus terminal on the Quay Weld in Georgetown. As you face the terminal it is actually split distinctively in to two areas, it is the area to the right (from which all of the services starting '10' seem to depart) which houses the information office from which to get your pass. You will need to take your passport with you when buying either of these passes. If you are buying a one month pass you will also need to take one passport sized photograph as the card is a photo-ID type.

Overall I found the Rapid Penang service to be excellent. Most of the services are frequent and many also have free wifi on board. One particularly useful service if you are stopping in or around Gurney is the 304. This departs every half hour on the hour and at half past the hour and goes to Queensbay mall, the journey taking about 1 hour out of rush hour. It also passes Penang Times Square (albeit you can catch the 103 from behind Gurney Plaza that also runs nearby and get off at Jalan McAllister). The 304 departs from the traffic island at the hawker stall end of Gurney Drive where it runs up to meet Jalan Bagan Jermal. The other popular services I used a lot (to get into Georgetown and back) were the 103 and the much more frequent 101 which stops in Jalan Bagan Jermal and also runs in the other direction to Tanjung Tokong and on to Batu Ferringhi.

The Rapid Penang "Travel Passport" I think is very good value for money and proved a great way to see a lot of Penang and get about locally to places like No Eyed Deer. Well worth considering if you are holidaying or house hunting here. If you use an iPhone you can also download the very useful Rapid Penang iPhone application from iTunes which lists all of the services, provides a map and details of the stops for each and every route (see previous post).

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