Hear from the “Experts” on what the proposed MRT will bring for KL

TRANSIT has noted that the MRT proposal is receiving more and more attention. Today, we take note of 3 articles which focus on the changes that the MRT would bring to KL – with “experts” commenting on different aspects of these changes.

TRANSIT will provide links to these articles as well as some highlights of each article with comments. However, what is really needed here is your participation in the discussion about the public transport needs of Malaysia in general and the Klang Valley in particular.

Article 1: Expert: MRT should be managed by a single body (The Star)

The “Expert”: Stephen Robinson, Director of Engineering firm Aecom

The Highlights:

  • All the MRT lines should be integrated with the network – one body should manage the network; [TRANSIT: What about KTM Komuter? Where should they fit in?]
  • Commercial takeover may be impossible but fares should be integrated; [TRANSIT: Ok, but Prasarana does own the 3 “rail” lines (LRT & Monorail)]
  • Current network does not serve the city centre well; [TRANSIT: Er….yeah.]
  • The money spent on highway construction and fuel subsidy over the years would have been more than enough to develop a comprehensive MRT network; [TRANSIT: Er…see our comment above]
  • Rail developers should be allowed to acquire strata title for lands adjoining the project; [TRANSIT: in other words, they should be able to acquire the air rights and underground rights to the land adjacent to rail lines and especially railway stations – this would facilitate railway construction & allow for improved, stable and reliable funding]

Article 2: MRT can boost city (The Star)

The Expert: T.C. Chew, Project Director of Hong Kong MTR Corporation Ltd

The Highlights:

  • No system can carry more people than the MRT; [TRANSIT: Have you seen the services offered by Southeastern trains in the SE Greater London and the South East of the UK recently?]
  • KL deserves to have a [MRT] system similar to London, Hong Kong and Beijing; [TRANSIT: Wow. Not even close! KL does not “deserve” anything and we are nowhere near the density of any of these cities (let alone the level of responsibility, accountability, competency, professionalism etc.) … not to mention that our public transport usage has actually decreased since we built the LRT and monorail lines!]
  • The Draft KL City Plan 2020 estimates a targeted rail capacity (passenger per hour per direction) of 183,700 is required for its modal share target; [TRANSIT: This would be in all of the lines (including KTM Komuter?). Currently the Kelana Jaya LRT carries about 11,000 passengers per hour per direction, while the Ampang LRT carries closer to 20,000.]
  • The current rail capacity provision during peak hour is about 60,000 passengers [per hour per direction?] while the proposed fleet expansions and headway reductions under the urban transport National Key Result Areas (NKRA) will only increase to 104,000 passengers. [TRANSIT: We are pleased to know that rail service capacity can be improved by more than 40% if we just buy a lot more trains and improve our signaling systems. So what has the government been doing for the past decade while they watched the public transport system failing right in front of them? Oh yeah, they introduced a competitor to the existing bus operators.]
  • An LRT system alone is not enough. A MRT system located in high-demand areas in the city centre is essential to reduce the current high proportion of car users. [TRANSIT: OK. MRT, in the city centre is needed.]
  • proposed MRT lines should work with the existing lines and connect with them as much as possible to provide passengers with a seamless journey and as close as possible to one another.; [TRANSIT: Er. yeah.]
  • If Hong Kong can do it, so can KL [TRANSIT: Is someone angling for a job?]

Article 3: Expert: System will help optimise use of existing lines (The Star)

The Expert: Goh Bok Yen from MAG Techncial & Development Consultants

The Highlights:

  • MRT should be part of the network with MRT at the top of a clear system hierarchy; [TRANSIT: Order! We demand order in our rail network!]
  • A circle line is a common and crucial element in a metropolitan [line]; [TRANSIT: Er, no, circle line usually exist for the purpose of connecting radial lines. Sometimes “Circle lines” are not actually circles – like the CCL in Singapore, Circle Line, Overground and Crossrail in London – and many cities do not have “circle lines” becuase they do not have a circular development pattern.]
  • “The alignment, while fulfilling the present demand, must also tap the future mega projects. The planning committee must have the foresight, as well as enough information, to link the MRT with these future hubs. “These are the main objectives that the MRT needs to achieve, without these, you are merely adding another three lines that do not serve a good purpose,” he added. [TRANSIT: Can you say “non-transparent, secretive, backroom planning? Somehow, we think that people in backrooms all over the Klang Valley are rubbing their hands with glee at Mr. Goh’s comment here.]

  • The MRT and LRT extension lines will increase Kuala Lumpur’s track coverage from 15km per million population to 30km when completed, as compared with 40km in Hong Kong, 35km in Singapore and 10km in Bangkok, (which has better placement of stations). [TRANSIT: That shows you what good planning and government authority can do.]
  • “When the new lines are fully completed and supported by an efficient bus network, we can cover 80% of the population of Greater KL (within 20km radius from the city centre). In other words, a commuter will reach either a train or a bus station within 400m of walking and be linked to the whole system. [TRANSIT: since the talk about MRT started back in June, has anyone heard any mention of the importance of an efficient bus network as part of the overall public transport network – besides Mr. Goh here of course?]
  • Feeder buses can become more reliable: “Once it is well integrated, then buses need to only loop 3km to 5km as feeders to the stations. The waiting time can be limited to five to 10 minutes with a fleet of eight buses for a 3km loop,” he added. [TRANSIT: Mr. Goh consistently talks about the importance of buses. We like the way Mr. Goh thinks.]
  • Estimates that travelling from one end of the system to the town centre will take about 35min to 40min. There’s still room to improve, such as using KTM as an express option by reducing its stops. [TRANSIT: Another interesting idea and similar to a proposal we have already shared with KTMB.]
  • Pay more attention particularly to areas undergoing urban redevelopment such as Old Town, Section 13 and Section 52 in Petaling Jaya, Jalan Ipoh and Segambut,” [TRANSIT: We agree!]
  • A well-integrated system ought to be supported by a good ticketing system, effective dissemination of information and flexibility for expansion. [TRANSIT: Sure, but we do not need to construct an MRT in order to remake the existing system into a well-integrated one. We just wonder what Prasarana has been doing (on the topic of integration) since 2003. Fare integration in Hong Kong took 7 months. Fare integration in KL has taken 7 years (and counting).]
  • Institutional integration is of paramount importance. The public land transport commission (SPAD) should be as dynamic and innovative as a private entity; [TRANSIT: Er…yeah. And look at the man in charge. Show of hands, please: who sees Syed Hamid Albar as dynamic or innovative? Please, keep your hands up while I count.]
  • having a public-listed company to operate the urban public transportation would eventually benefit everyone. [TRANSIT: We wonder about this. At this stage / state that we are in, shouldn’t a public transport operator be able to concentrate on providing the most efficient service, rather than paying dividends to shareholders?]
  • foresees a drastic change in lifestyle after the completion of the MRT. Parking trend, among others, will see a shift as demand drops and the underground stations — more than 20 — will also lead to an increase in underground shopping space.
  • [TRANSIT: Great! Because KL does not have enough shopping space already….right? Maybe we can convert some of these unused parking spaces to offices, gardens, and … wait for it…. shops! But who wants to bet there will still be double parking on the streets of KL, even with a surplus of parking lonts>]

TRANSIT Says:

Some of the details/highlights and comments above reveal some very interesting viewpoints about the future of public transport in KL. All groups seem to think that the MRT will make a huge difference in public transport and will change the face of the Klang Valley, and the “experts” above seem to share that enthusiasm. But at least Mr. Goh talks about the reality of the situation and includes the buses in the picture – we at TRANSIT do not want the buses left out.

Speaking of feeling left out, do you notice that there is no commentary from other experts like “Prasarana” or “SPAD” in this set of articles? After all, we at TRANSIT want to hear what the real players think about the MRT.

Not to mention, we at TRANSIT want to know what you think of the MRT proposals and the changing face of public transport in the Klang Valley. After all, we are Malaysia’s
Public Transport Forum!

Oh, and what about the money? Is anyone talking about money here? Not only the construction costs, but social and economic costs and benefits. As well as, how much are passengers willing to pay for this great MRT+LRT+Komuter+monorail+bus network?

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8 thoughts on “Hear from the “Experts” on what the proposed MRT will bring for KL”

  1. All the ‘experts’ seems to say GO with this MRT project. Are they truely objective and honest in their assessments? Or are they trying to get a cut of the pie from the project

    Personally for this MRT project, I think we can wait and get more feedback from the public etc. The announcement came in a rush and you’re talking HUGE cash at stake. A cost-benefit analysis etc needs to be done and only if the return is going to be good, only then we should proceed

    Otherwise that huge some of money can go to improving the current system (more trains, komuters, buses etc)

  2. Only 1 out of those 3 experts touched on the “last mile” connection between the doorsteps to the stations. No point if those MRTs will have the same problem with the current rail networks.

    There’s a really really really really really good reason why those buses are called feeder services in the first place. If people are stuck hours waiting for the buses to get to or away from the stations, public transport in KL will only be for those who have the luxury of time and patience, and for those who are really really financially desperate the most.

  3. Whatever rail projects to be carry on, residents at Taman Bahagia Lrt Station will bear the burden of a more congested stations eventually. The proposed bus system somewhat like CURITIBA, Brazil didn’t
    give me any feedbacks . ???
    “Once a upon a time, there was a house built in
    a traquillized area but was later turned into a traffic by
    evil spirits. The affected resident begged the evil spirits not demolish the house but the evil spirits will not listen. As the traffic hub is an income generator.
    So, the affected resident has to make way for the evil
    spirits. The affected resident, so happened a descendent from the Heaven, depressed reported the
    her unfair sorrows to the Heaven. When the Heaven God heard of such unfair treament from the descendent, immediately, the Heaven God battled with the evil spirits. My dear friends, who will win? The evil spirits or the Heaven God? Yes, the evil spirits won, of course! Because evil spirits are always the “unguesty ” invaders. However, …….to be continued.

  4. The argument about the circle line should not be getting too much into semantics. Whatever is the name or shape, it’s essentially a cross-radial line. If a city does not have a circular travel pattern, it could be the transit network not facilitating such a pattern in the first place. This may be due to the over-concentration of office and commercial property in the CBD. The reasons for this may sometimes be topography. If it is simply bad planning, it should be corrected in the long run.

    Politicians who ignore buses would do so at the people’s peril.

    1. Hi Ethan

      We are not trying to play semantics here. Our concern is when we are presented with an argument that we should have a “circle line” because all major cities that have good public transport systems have a “circle line” (or two, or three).

      All of these “circle lines” have developed uniquely to connect urban centres, which is why many of them are not actually “circular” or complete loops.

      We are perhaps afraid that someone will say (or may have already said) that “KL needs a circle line”, drawing a circular line on a map and that is what we end up with – whether it is the line that we need, or not.

      Regards, moaz for TRANSIT

  5. I went to singapore recently and I noticed the main reason why MRT is so popular over there because some of stations connects directly to the residential areas. I believe we cant do that since our residential areas in KL and all other cities in Malaysia are scattered due to poor town planning. So, this is where feeder bus should come into place. But, looks like the government is not paying any attention to improve feeder buses.

    In Singapore, condominiums and flats enable the residential area to be more concentrated; allowing MRT station to connect to more people. In Malaysia, we have more terrace houses. I believe the government should build more bus stops connecting to those ‘taman’. It should be at least a walking distance from the house. And, there it goes the chain. People can just walk to the bus stops, take the feeder bus to MRT/LRT station and board the train to their working place.

    1. @Saktish

      Good thoughts – thanks for the feedback.

      Unfortunately, we do not have the kind of integrated transport planning of a “Transport for London” here in the Klang Valley. But, we can only hope that SPAD and Prasarana and the local governments start working together on an increasingly closer level.

      The only way to get the attention of the decision makers (wakil rakyat) is to get the attention of the public and tell them to support better public transport services.

      How do you do that? Get them to email/contact their Wakil Rakyat at all levels, from MP to ADUN to local councillor to YDP / Datuk Bandar … and convince them that they need to invest in public transport in order to make their lives better (not to mention, our lives).

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  6. The Singapore MRT is successful not only because it is accessible from homes, but also because it gets you where you want to go. The main radial MRT routes follow the pattern of Singapore’s township development from the city centre which was drafted in their city plan back in the 50s.

    Since the first stations that were built in the early 80s, the MRT stations were built besides bus interchanges to facilitate access for people outside of walking distance. Land around many stations was set aside for commercial developments. Many malls were built beside MRT stations around the 90s.

    The current push is for localised bicycle transport. Some bike paths have been drawn up across townships and bike parking facilities have proven to be highly in demand at many MRT stations.

    Those are the carrots. As for the stick, it ranges from making car ownership less appealing via apparatus such as parking charges, maximum 10-year car lifespan, and the need to bid for a certificate to buy a car, and the CBD charge in the 80s which has since evolved into the Electronic Road Pricing more than 10 years ago.

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