How Central is KL Sentral?

The members of TRANSIT noted with interest the official ground breaking of a new project at KL Sentral Lot G, to be called NU Sentral.

The ground-breaking by Prime Minister Najib took many opportunities to highlight the role of KL Sentral as Malaysia’s “Integrated Transport Hub”.

One important piece of information was the mention of the Kota Damansara – Cheras line, now being described as a “mass transit line” that would integrate with the existing Kuala Lumpur Sentral hub.

The Prime Minister also highlighted:

  • the “seamless connectivity” created by the new building 
  • that the project would be 3 times the size of the MidValley MegaMall.  
  • that the Brickfields neighbourhood would be modernized and developed but still retain its character.

Consider this quote taken from the article Seamless connectivity key for growth, says PM (The Star):

The Prime Minister said an example of seamless connectivity between road and rail services in the city was the construction of NU Sentral, an integrated retail and office project to be built at KL Sentral.

Najib looking at the development model after the official launch of Lot-G Integrated Development (NU Sentral). Image courtesy of The Star. [TRANSIT: Can you see the actual railway station?]

Najib looking at the development model after the official launch of Lot-G Integrated Development (NU Sentral). Image courtesy of The Star. [TRANSIT: Lot G / NU Sentral is the two towers closest to where the PM is standing. Also, can you see the actual railway station?]

“With the completion of this new development, we will see seamless connectivity between KTM Intercity and Komuter trains, KL Monorail, ERL and the light rail transit systems.“The design of this place will encourage more people to walk in comfort due to inter-connectivity that exists between the buildings,” he said at the launch of the Lot G and NU Sentral integrated development project here yesterday.

Or consider this report from Bernama:

Another unique accessibility feature of the Nu Sentral is its linkage to KL Sentral via a fully air-conditioned bridge and another separate bridge to link to-and-from the KL Sentral Monorail Station.

“With the completion of the new development, we will see seamless connectivity between the KTM inter-city and commuter services, the monorail, the ERL and the Kelana Jaya LRT through the station and the new integrated development,” Najib said.

TRANSIT Says:

“Seamless-interconnectivity” means that there are few or no physical barriers between different modes of transport.  It also means that the fare systems and platforms are fully integrated.

That is not happening in Malaysia. 

The obvious crime that people point to is the lack of a direct physical connection between the KL Monorail “KL Sentral Station” and the main KL Sentral station building.

Bridging the Gaps

The NU Sentral project aims to resolve the issue of distance between the two lines by building a mall in between the stations to bridge the gap.

Instead of bringing the monorail to KL Sentral, they will bring KL Sentral to the monorail. They will also put another station across the road from the monorail – so there will be 3 stations.

Look at the Bernama quote – there will be two bridges to connect three separate buildings – that is hardly “seamless interconnectivity”

But the problems are greater than the physical interconnection.

Poor Planning and Connectivity … at our Integrated Transport hub!

KL Sentral is not a truly integrated station because it was never designed with a place for all modes of transport.  There was never a plan to have feeder bus services at KL Sentral.

The KTM Komuter and RapidKL LRT services are connected under the same roof at KL Sentral – but their fares and platforms are not integrated.

Walking in Comfort?

Najib also comments that people will be able to “walk in comfort” between the KL Monorail and KL Sentral main building.

Yes, certainly we can see that people will be able to walk through covered areas with air conditioning on their supposedly “seamless” connection between the two buildings.

But this area is likely to become a congested, noisy, busy commercial space that will be more about sales and commerce than about transport.

The blog KL Commuter described the inside of KL Sentral as a having a feel similar to a Kamdar or Pasar Malam – not necessarily a bad thing – but also not the most comfortable or appropriate use of space. We have to ask Sausana Sentral (managers of KL Sentral station), how does shopping everywhere improve the public transport experience?

The interior of KL Sentrals Hall. Image courtesy of KL Commuter
The interior of KL Sentral's Hall. Image courtesy of KL Commuter

Overall, TRANSIT is very disappointed with the concept of KL Sentral and the problems that exist there such as overcrowding, use of public transport space for commerce, lack of connection between lines and poor bus services.

We are very unhappy with the idea that Malaysia’s main railway hub is also one of the largest parking garages in Malaysia, and that a significant number of people coming to KL Sentral do not get there by public transport.

And while we are happy to hear more news about the Kota Damansara – Cheras line, we cannot believe that the NU Sentral project is as much of a solution as it is hyped up to be.  Certainly the government is going to be building infrastructure and spending money, but it is hard to fix the mistakes that have been made in the past just by spending more money and constructing more buildings.

For more information about NU Sentral please see the following media:

TRANSIT will follow up this posting in a few days with a few Google earth images of potential routes for the Kota Damansara-Cheras MRT line

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7 thoughts on “How Central is KL Sentral?”

  1. Hi TRANSIT!

    Thanks for the post.

    I’m with you, never agree with the walking space being used for commerce, like in KL Sentral, The Street at The Curve Damansara and maybe more if I could remember. The reason I’m walking is because walking is the most convenience way at that time. If the space for walking is being blocked with some shops, it will take time for me to move faster. Perhaps, at some points, they’re using the space for some good reasons, which one of them is money. But be fair for other tenant who has rented a physical store. Let the business runs at its path. And for the idea for NU Sentral, I just hope there will be one floor that is only used for transport purpose. More space and air to breathe for daily extreme commuters.

    But from my examination, I have seen some unused or not at most utilised commercial spaces like one at Kelana Jaya Station and Kerinchi Station. Perhaps, we as commuters use these stations for commuting, not shopping. But if we’re using for shopping, i.e Suria KLCC, the situation would be like KLCC Station which overcrowded and other non-shopper commuters are taking more time to commute. But on good side, people do use public transport to travel.

    Just my two cents. And will always support TRANSIT to represent me and other extreme commuters as we love public transport.

    Thank you again.

    Regards.

  2. I’m sorry, but i’m not fancy with the comment by TRANSIT. the situation of KL Sentral is cannot be fixed as what you always dream to be as it was there since 10 years ago. all what the government can do is to make thing better. bad to good and good to better. why must TRANSIT act like a politician? is this a political-driven association, or what? please keep your integrity. thank you.

    1. Hi Kelvin

      Thank you for your comments.

      TRANSIT is not a political organization. However, public transport is a political issue.

      TRANSIT believes that government should be honest and not attempt to portray KL Sentral and NU Sentral as something they are not. The description of KL Sentral as an “integrated transport hub” is not correct, and the term “seamless connectivity” is also not correct.

      KL Sentral has significant problems because it was not planned properly from the beginning. It was designed as a rail hub, not a public transport hub, and the integration of rail lines and planning for the future are quite poor. And frankly, pretending that NU Sentral will bring about “seamless connectivity” is not going to make it “seamless” no matter what people say.

      The purpose of our criticism is to be constructive and people are appreciating that.

      The management of KL Sentral and Prasarana have admitted that, as they look back at their plans, they could see places to improve on KL Sentral – such as building spaces for a proper bus hub.

      Kind Regards

      Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. Its really a shame to see the central train station of the capital to be in such a state. I couldn’t agree more with TRANSIT that the space in the train station is not well utilised for the convenience of public transport users. Like many Malaysian projects, KL Sentral is another typical plan-for-money and not plan-for-society development. I don’t see NU Sentral being any different. I think the platforms in KL Sentral was planned to be different because it was a set mentality at time of planning that each line would have their own platform due to the various operators and there were no strong collaboration between them to ensure a truly seamless transport infrastructure.

    Its obvious that when the KD-Cheras line comes into picture, it will inevitably suffer the same fate. Just trying to get all lines to share a common paid area is already next to impossible without a complete renovation of the interior space.

    Btw, no news on that?

    1. Hi Ken

      Regarding the Kota Damansara – Cheras line, TRANSIT is hearing multiple stories about what will be happening. The current indication is that it will be elevated through Bangsar and Brickfields, and underground through KL to the Maluri area. The tunnel portal would be at the Brickfields YMCA.

      Of course, tunneling will cost lots of money, which probably explains why the plans have been held off – they are trying to determine the best route at the lowest cost.

      TRANSIT has also been told that the line would extend to the Sg. Buloh to meet the KTM Komuter station, KTM intercity station, and the proposed integrated transport terminal.

      At the same time, we also have an indication that the northbound integrated transport terminal will actually be built on Jalan Ipoh, rather than at Sg. Buloh.

      And to make things more interesting, we have heard that there may be a new line linking Kelana Jaya to Sg. Buloh via the airport before the Kota Damansara-Cheras line is built.

      This is what passes for clear planning here.

      TRANSIT believes that the Kota Damansara – Cheras line should follow Jalan Parliamen into KL rather than going through Bangsar and Brickfields and passing KL Sentral. From Jalan Parliamen the line would travel down to the Kuala Lumpur railway station and Pasar Seni LRT station. Then, travel to Jalan Raja Chulan and down to Bukit Bintang.

      As for Brickfields and Bangsar, TRANSIT believes that a new monorail line should be built, starting at KL Sentral and extending through Brickfields to Bangsar, the Jalan Duta government complexes, and back to Titiwangsa.

      TRANSIT also believes that the existing monorail should be extended to MidValley megamall and Bangsar South, as per the original plan.

      As for KL Sentral, this is very much a management issue. KL Sentral is owned by MRCB and managed by Semasa Sentral. It was designed as a railway station with space for cars, and there was never any plan to include buses originally – even thought Jalan Tun Sambanthan is a major corridor for southbound buses.

      Again, this is what passes for planning here.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  4. one tiny escalator that takes passengers up to the main building from the fumes of the buses below, those who take it who are often coming from the monorail, which is a long way a way, and over broken paving, with their travel bags… those going down have the steps..

    and more recently, no elevator and horrendous machinery noise that’s deafening to the ears, and the bus bay becoming something like underground parking not suitable for pedestrians!!!!

    1. @traveler 1

      Unfortunately, the problems with the bus bay at KL Sentral have not been resolved because, once again, bus service is not a priority for the Malaysian government and even SPAD.

      KL Sentral was designed as a centralized rail transit terminal, rather than for buses. The arrival of buses in 2006 (with the first RapidKL services) was really instigated by former Minister of Transport chan Kong Choy, but because the terminal was not planned for buses, the design is extremely poor.

      The other irony is that SPAD have their offices at the KL Sentral complex. And yet, they have not been able to do something as simple as fixing the issues at the bus bay and improving access.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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