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Childhood Memories: Part 18 – Wild Ride On Public Buses

bus childhood transport

(Toong Fong was one the bus that I took on a daily basis when I was still very young. I was not that old to take this model – lane: Chan Sow Lin Road but the Toong Fong logo on the side of the bus remained until it was absorbed into Intrakota. Image source: here)

Remember those days when some of us “used” to take the BUS? Some of you who use the bus for daily commute to work may be wondering what the hell BJ is talking about but I have to admit – it has been quite a while since I last took a bus (these days the routes have gotten so confusing).

Read the rest of the series here

I drive these days and despite the ever-increasing toll and petrol prices these days, I have not resorted to taking the bus. Not that I do not want to but there is no bus that goes from my “house front door” to the “office front door”. Besides, it is easier to drive if there is a need to meet with customers. But there was a time when I had nothing to take but the bus to get from Point A to Point B (taxis were too expensive those days).

K.L., Klang & Port Klang (KKPK)

My first encounter with KL, Klang & Port Klang Omnibus was when I was still young – perhaps when I was still a baby. The earliest recollection of the KKPK buses is that their signal lights were shaped in the form of an arrow and they had this huge menacing looking front (having red as the colour of their body did not help much). As a young boy, it was scary to be standing by the roadside as these monsters pass us by.

Unlike these days, we will have a bus conductor whose main job would be to collect the money and pass us the tickets (it was so colourful, me and my siblings used to have the whole collection – ticket pricing more than RM1.00 was rare ones).

Conductors had their own styles when issuing tickets – some punch holes, some just tear them. The bus conductor also acted as the 2nd eye for the driver at the back and occasionally steps in for crowd control (no one was more capable to say “masuk dalam, masuk dalam” (go in, go in) and the crowd obeys it without fail).

bus childhood transport

(It is very difficult to get a photo of KKPK buses in it’s original red and white livery. This bus’ livery is after KKPK was absorbed into Cityliner but similar models used to ply the Puchong – Old Klang Road – KL route. Image source: here)

Another thing that caused an interest when I took the bus was the bell to tell the driver that we wanted to get down on the next stop. There were two types of the bell that I saw – the single bell with words “Press Once” around it or the long rubber line design when came in much later. The long rubber line design was more efficient because the line ran from the back of the back and to the front – the bell rings no matter which part of the black rubber that we touched.

Interestingly the KKPK buses were not that “loud” as compared to the old Toong Fong buses (their engines tucked away from the interior).

Toong Fong Omnibus (TFO)

TFO buses ruled the trunk roads to my grandma’s house – so if one needs to go to grandma’s house, we need to either go all the way to Pudu Raya where TFO had several platforms to themselves or go to Salak South Garden where we can hop on the same bus halfway the journey. My dad is usually working on the weekends so normally it is up to my mom to bring us to see grandma – a strong beloved lady who will make the trip herself (on her own) to see us.

bus childhood transport

(One of the newer Toong Fong buses with a refreshed livery and air-conditioner. Note the bus lane number at the front top – it really shines at night. Image source: here)

One thing I liked about TFO was that they were more innovative than the rest – they bought in newer buses faster than the other bus companies and they had a unique way to display the numbers on the front of the bus – fluorescent display boards which were nice to see at night but pretty useless during the day

When I had to take the TFO bus from my grandma’s house to school in KL, it is a ritual that starts almost at 4 in the morning. Because it is was a long journey from Serdang to KL and the traffic jam that comes along with it, my dad made sure that we took the first bus to KL on the dot, every schooling days.

Waking up so early in the morning although was a torture in itself, enabled us to get the best seats in the bus and sleep the whole journey to KL. Seeing us so frequently, the bus conductors soon got close to us and sometimes it helped as the bus waits for us if we are seconds late to the bus stop. Bus conductors also wake us up if we overslept for the journey to KL or from KL.

SJ Kenderaan (SJK)

We call them – Sri Jaya bus. This bus ran from what was known as Klang Bus Stand to Brickfields but this was not the usual ride that I often took to go to school (unless of course, if one is going to Bangsar or Pantai Dalam – SJK buses are the “main” buses to take).

Compared to Toong Fong, they were quite bland (including the ticket design) but it had its own unique interior styling – the seat design was a bit different (SJ was using a lot of Isuzu models whilst the rest was using TATA or Hino). I recall once when me and my school mate, Punendran had an argument when it came to SJK and TFO – which bus was the fastest. Needless to say, we both won on our arguments without much evidence.

bus childhood transport

(Sri Jaya bus with its original livery in front of Kota Raya (I think) before it was absorbed into Intrakota.  Notice the different window design which was worked well during rainy days and seating arrangement at the front. Image source: here)

But I will always remember SJK for one thing – this was the bus when I heard great 1980s Tamil song early in the morning when I was going to school. It just happens that the driver is an Indian driver who had a simple radio setup at the front and he had nothing but Illayaraja 1980s hit songs. It came to a point where I was willing to miss a couple of buses just to pick this particular bus for my trip to school.

Honourable mentions

Of course, other than the above 3 – I had my share of experience travelling in Metrobus, CityLiner, Intrakota, Rapid KL and not forgetting the notorious BMW (Bus Mini Wilayah – where I once travelled from Old Klang Road to downtown KL with just one foot on the stairs whilst one hand holding the handrail.

And who can forget the usual shout from the conductor asking us to make 2 lines in the cramped standing area and then the conductor squeezing in the middle to collect the money?). But these came in after I started with college and soon working. I was already itching for another alternative mode of travel – biking.

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