Is fast tracking mega projects going to help public transport recover?

TRANSIT took note of this article in the business section of the Star Newspaper which focuses on the implementation of mega projects to help with the economic recovery.

2 of the mega projects that are being pointed to are the extension of the two existing LRT lines to Putra Heights and the new LRT line from Sg. Buloh to Cheras – which will be rolled out next year but ‘deferred’ to the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Monday August 10, 2009
Fast tracking mega projects for quicker economic recovery
By DANNY YAP

PETALING JAYA: The timing is right for the Government’s stimulus packages to kick in in a “big way” soon for a quicker economic recovery, say analysts.

…..

A CIMB construction analyst has identified 12 major construction jobs in the pipeline worth about RM80bil.

He said top on the list was the much-anticipated Klang Valley LRT extension/upgrade, which together with new lines was worth RM30bil to RM35bil.

“This is touted as the highlight of the Government’s pump-priming over the remaining period of the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) and is likely to spill over to the 10MP,” he said.

…..

“Key events to watch out for this year include the tender and award of the LRT upgrade/extension, tenders for the Kelau Dam, Langat 2 and related works,” he said.

…..

“Execution is the main theme for the sector this year. Expectations are running high for a large rail-related public transport project with huge spill-over effects to come on stream before year-end and rejuvenate the sector. And for 2010, we expect a much bigger one worth as much as RM20bil to be rolled out, probably as part of the 10MP.” [TRANSIT: Referring to the LRT extensions and the new line, respectively – see the image below]

Mega Projects to be rolled out soon - take note of Number 1, 2 and 8. Image courtesy of The Star
Mega Projects to be rolled out soon - take note of Number 1, 2 and 8. Image courtesy of The Star

TRANSIT Says:

Many people believe that the problem with public transport is that we do not have enough infrastructure – in other words, we do not have enough new rail lines, new buses, new trains, etc. etc.

But we have to be honest with you – the lack of infrastructure is only one part of the problem that public transport faces.

A key example is with RapidKL buses.  They have new buses (assets) and new routes.  However, the buses do not operate along any particular schedule that is known to the public.

RapidKL constantly says that it needs infrastructure (better bus hubs, bus lanes) to make bus service more reliable.  To some extent this is true – but the fact is that RapidKL also needs to put a schedule in place, enforce the following of that schedule and meet customer needs for reliability and frequency.

The same thing goes for the LRT lines.

Yes, having more LRT lines is going to help public transport – but if we plan ahead properly then we should be building MRT lines – after all, these lines have to operate for 50-100 years and during that time, demand is going to grow!

High Demand

And if we plan ahead properly, then we should be building lines in high density areas, following high-density public transport corridors – and ideally, bringing public transport to underserved areas that have a proven need for public transport and a huge potential for growth.

If we were doing that, then we would be building an MRT line from Kota Damansara through Petaling Jaya and KL all the way to Cheras – because it has more high-density areas with proven use of public transport and great potential for growth.

But instead, we are extending LRT lines to Putra Heights, of all places – a low density suburban area with few public transport users and low potential for growth.

Interconnectedness

If we were planning ahead properly, we would build an interconnected network of rapid transit lines – not necessarily rail but definitely rapid – that would connect different areas of the Klang Valley.

If we were planning ahead properly, we would build that network as quickly and as completely as possible – so we could move more people, faster.

Technology

If we were planning ahead properly, then we would not wed ourselves to one particular form of technology – and instead we would focus on how to maximize the value of each Ringgit Malaysia spent on public transport.

We are not there yet. Right now we are in love with the LRT and see it as the solution for all of our public transport problems.

The irony is that, since we built the LRT in the 1990s, public transport use has actually dropped by 50% (from 30% of transport market share in the 1980s to 15% of market share now).

Planning and Transparency

If we were planning ahead properly, we would include the people of the community in the planning process, step by step … so that they would feel included and their ideas valued.

If we were planning in this manner, we would identify the projected demands first, and get feedback from the public.  Then we would look at route options and then get the feedback from the public. Once that is done, we would focus on the location of the stations – again, with lots of feedback from the public.

But right now, we get the project completed and thrown at the public who have to swallow an overwhelming and sometimes confusing set of information – all the while being made to feel that:

  • a) Their views don’t matter.
  • b) Their views don’t matter.
  • c) Any objections they will have them labeled as NIMBY (not in my back yard) so they should keep quiet because their views don’t matter.
  • d) The government and engineers know what is best – and since the public does not have the technical knowledge or the power to make decisions, their views don’t matter.

That is the current state of affairs – but we have hopes that things will change in 2010.  We have hopes that the planning process for the Sg. Buloh to Cheras Line will involve the public from the early stages – and if Prasarana doesnt make it happen themselves, we will try to make it happen ourselves.

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4 thoughts on “Is fast tracking mega projects going to help public transport recover?”

  1. Trust me, the government will not change. Until now they still have all the mentality of, “I know all, rakyat (people) knows ZERO!” or “We setup opinion corner in any website is to PLEASE/PACIFY rakyat only!”

    1. @Chia

      Sadly, nothing has changed. SPAD is clearly “gung ho” about the new MRT and has barely mentioned the concept of public display – they intend to start the public display in March, complete everything by May, get approval (approval has actually been secured already) and get started by July.

      Take a look back to September 2009 when the Kelana Jaya and Ampang line extensions were introduced. Idrose Mohamed of Prasarana promised that the project would start in April 2010, 7 months after the public display. Well, the contracts were only awarded in late 2010 – so how?

      The funny thing is that Prasarana “sources” were blaming the Selangor government for “delaying” the project.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. With this attitude, the RM36B is going to go down the monsoon drain as they’re getting it all wrong, as I’m sure Moaz can recall from my rather caustic opinions on the MRT proposal versus the 2007 LRT concepts.

    When they announce rail lines, I ought to feel happy, yet all I feel is a sense of nagging, a sense that tells me that something just isn’t right.

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