London Calling (Part 1)

Moaz from TRANSIT took note of this tweet from Raja Nong Chik, Federal Territories Minister, who is currently in London in the UK

RajaNongChik: Caught in traffic jam in london just as bad as kl! So does this make kl a first class city just like london?

It is an interesting question, to say the least. Our response has already been posted on our twitter feed, transitmy, which you can see to the right of the webpage.

Basically, we are somewhat disappointed by the tweet. After all, how can you compare the traffic congestion in a city like London, with traffic congestion in a city like KL.

London has 10+ million people living and working there at any time. KL has perhaps 4 million people.  London’s streets are narrow, probably moreso than KL, where roads and streets have been widened regularly. There are also few flyovers in London as compared to KL.

But the real difference is obviously in the transportation system. London has a massive public transport system which moves millions of people in and out and around the city on a daily basis.

London has 4 vast public transport networks, including:

  • Buses
  • Tube / Underground / Docklands Light Railway / Overground – London’s “Metro” system
  • Trams
  • The London Connections under Network Rail – London’s “Komuter” System with dozens of lines

Below is a non-standard image of London’s tube map Zone 1, the City Centre of London. You can also get the .pdf file in standard version here and large print version here. You can also check out the full interactive map here.
Additional information can be found on Wikipedia’s posting on the London Underground (among many others), and at the website for the London Transport Museum.

A non-standard map of Londons Underground Zone 1 (city centre) - courtesy of Wikipedia
A non-standard map of London's Underground Zone 1 (city centre) - courtesy of Wikipedia

Do we dare to compare that to KL, with our incomplete LRT and KTM network and our stunted bus system?

Obviously it is not a fair comparison.

However, we can only hope that Raja Nong Chik, as Federal Territories Minister, would use his trip to London as an opportunity to learn about public transport that works effectively.

The first key feature is in the governance.  Public transport in London is overseen by Transport for London, a Local Authority Corporation that answers to the Mayor of London’s Office.

Company Information

TfL was created in 2000 and is the integrated body responsible for the Capital’s transport system.

Its main role is to implement the Mayor’s Transport Strategy for London and manage transport services across the Capital for which the Mayor has responsibility.

These services include:

TfL also has a number of other responsibilities. These include:

  • Managing the Congestion Charge
  • Maintaining 580km of main roads and all of London’s traffic lights
  • Regulating the city’s taxis and private hire trade
  • Making London’s transport more accessible through coordinating schemes for people with impaired mobility and running Dial-a-Ride alongside the London boroughs Taxicard scheme
  • Promoting a range of walking and cycling initiatives

In order to make this all work, there needs to be cooperation, transparency and accountability.

The Mayor of London is in charge of Transport for London, which means that he takes full responsibility.  A clear listing of risks and responsibilities ensure that companies compete to offer services because they know it will be profitable.  Corporate Planning without government interference means that planning is for the interests of the public and not for political gain.

Partnerships between Transport for London and the various boroughs of London help create a planning atmosphere that works for the entire Greater London Area. Openness of information ranges from Corporate information to meeting minutes and papers and presentations to online accessibility guides for public transport users – all available online for anyone to see.

Even the symbols of London’s public transport have become iconic. The London Underground Symbol is easily recognizable by many.

London’s roundel symbol has also been adopted as the overall symbol for Transport for London.

The roundel symbols used by Transport for London - images courtesy of Wikipedia & TfL
The roundel symbols used by Transport for London - images courtesy of Wikipedia & TfL

That is what happens when people are familiar and proud of their transport and the city that it helped build.

So TRANSIT really has to ask the Federal Territories Minister what he was thinking when he made that tweet. We would also know when we will see the FT Minister’s Transport Strategy, Transport for KL (or KUTA – Kuala Lumpur Urban Transport Authority), and a really effective and reliable public transport network for Malaysia’s world class city.

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