ETP Analysis: The MRT Proposal

In this post, TRANSIT will strive to analyze, to the best of our ability, the MRT proposal under the Economic Transformation Programme. We also hope to provide information to and obtain feedback from the public on the nature of the MRT proposal, its scope and chance of success as well as suggestions to make the proposal more likely to succeed in providing improve public transport for the benefit of public transport users first and foremost!

Look for further details coming soon!

The Star newspaper on Saturday has a pretty wide coverage on the Gamuda’s and MMC’s MRT Proposal as part of the projects identified under National Key Result Area (NKEA) Lab’s findings for Greater Kuala Lumpur.

Quantum leap in economic transformation

Interestingly, the remaining 34% (of RM172bil ETP package) for Greater KL will come from public funding and will be largely devoted to the MRT and high-speed rail systems. “Almost 90% (of public funding) or about RM50bil over the next 10 years, will go to these two priority EPPs,” says Jala. No wonder then analysts are bullish about the two companies that had proposed the MRT project to the Government earlier this year, namely Gamuda Bhd and MMC Corp Bhd.

TRANSIT Says:

Why do unsolicited proposals have to always come from companies with direct interest in the proposals. Have the proposals gone through thorough proper scrutiny by existing academic (UiTM’s MITRANS) and regulatory institutions (SPAD, Selangor state government, local authorities) together with consultation with the communities (residents association, consumer groups etc) before PEMANDU can say they are confident enough that this MRT proposal will leap Greater KL to a high income city?

How can our public institutions be squared in and pushed around the corners by the private sector when the real interest belongs to the wider general public?

However, Jala spells out clearly that the ETP is not necessarily an endorsement of that proposal. He says it could take another form as long as it achieves the targets of connectivity and cost efficiency, among others.

TRANSIT Says:

PEMANDU has a duty to concentrate first on the end product rather than on means to achieve it. The problem is congestion in Greater Kuala Lumpur is creating an economic gridlock that will halt the vision for a high-income city and high-income nation. The MRT (mass rail transit, not mass rapid transit) is definitely not the solution when other mass rapid transit solutions have been shown to be cheap, easily implemented and yet very effective in both facilitating greater commuting flow and making the urban landscape and behavior livelier and inclusive to all.

He says that projects will be awarded in a transparent manner. “When new projects are proposed, the Government will facilitate dialogue between relevant parties and ensure key processes, such as project tendering, are executed in a fair and transparent manner.”

“Sometimes restricted tenders can be better (than open tender) but we must know the benchmarks under those conditions – we need tremendous amount of data and international costing for this. Once you know that, you can negotiate down the contract. In an open tender, there is a tendency to overprice by all of the participants but it still remains a very important route (for getting reasonable prices),” he says.

TRANSIT Says:

Yes, Datuk, you’re spot on. The lab definitely needs studies and research to justify the need for MRT. The previous SMURT-KL study in 1999 took more than 2 years and nothing concrete came out of it. How can we expect the recent 3-month feasibility study on MRT to be comparable? We do not even know the terms of reference for the feasibility study, nor do we have any evidence that the results will be made public in a complete and timely manner!

Making Greater KL the nation’s heartbeat (Property analyst and map maker) Ho (Chin Soon) says there are two sensitive areas at stake here. There will be more as the journey for transformation goes along. The first involves public transport. “Although we have some form of public transport before and the money to make it a reality, we did not proceed [in order] to ensure the survival of our car industry. That is why our public transport ridership is a mere 10% compared with Hong Kong’s 90%, and Singapore’s 80% to 85%.” Ho says the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) system is more than just connectivity. Studies done have shown that if there is an MRT under an apartment block or mall, their rental improves by a quarter or a fifth, at least.

TRANSIT Says:

Why MRT? Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s purchasing power per capita is several fold higher, and they are highly dense city-states (i.e. among few cities with zero transit operation subsidy) with effective policies against ownership of private vehicles (as available mass rapid transit satisfies whatever mobility needs that arise from the city-states’ sociocultural dynamics).

More importantly, their population density patterns and urban land use planning have been integrated with public transport when the city was first build from the ground up. Ours are dominated by expressways and cul-de-sac real estate developments. Certain aspects of our lives center on suburban and even extrarural activities which require conveniences that can only be offered by private transport (farm visits, balik kampung escapades, hypermarket shopping). With the MRT being the highest ever infrastructure undertaking, do we expect the users to pay roughly RM10 transit fare, or the people surrounding the stations will want to bear the cost, or do we expect the burden to be shared equally to every single Malaysian?

An integrated transport system with the MRT as its main spine will help to raise property prices and connects the pockets of new development that the Government has announced in the last few months with the existing established areas, Ho adds. These includes the redevelopment of the 380-acre Kampung Baru, the 80-acre Islamic financial hub at the Dataran Perdana in the Imbi area, the mixed development on 460 acres at the Sg Besi old airport, the Matrade piece of land in Jalan Duta, and the redevelopment of the 22-acre former Pudu Prison site among others. The objective is to more than double the commercial content of KL. “This will take some time for the market to absorb,” he cautions.

TRANSIT Says:

The proposed MRT can’t be effective as the “mobility backbone” of Greater Kuala Lumpur as promised simply because other modes of mass rapid transit are more efficient and effective in making use of the established mobility infrastructure and support systems. Without a single, proper masterplan, control and sustainable transit funding policies, mass transit and land use in Greater Kuala Lumpur can never be really integrated, just as development around Kg Baru LRT station has been as stagnant as prior to the PUTRA LRT construction.

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10 thoughts on “ETP Analysis: The MRT Proposal”

  1. Due to the increase in traffic volume, there has been a suggestion by the Malaysian
    government to expand the present three-lane highway to a four-lane highway.
    What are the possible environmental impacts generated from such project? Identify and
    discuss the possible mitigating measures at the planning stage.

  2. Latest news from SPAD from local newspaper NST:

    Sg Buloh-Kajang MRT to be finalised Apr-May

    HONG KONG: The locations of the 35 stations of the first mass rapid transit (MRT) line from Sg Buloh to Kajang are expected to be finalised between April and May, says Land Public Transport Commi­ssion (SPAD) chief executive officer, Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal.
    “We have not finalised the locations yet. We have the ideas … we have the potential locations but nothing is finalised as it needs to be done through proper consultation with the public,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the four-day working visit here today.

    The line, with about 9.5km underground, will run through Sg Buloh, Kota Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, Cheras to Kajang.

    However, it was previously reported the alignment of the MRT may differ from what it was first proposed by MMC-Gamuda JV Sdn Bhd, the project delivery partner, as some highly busy hubs like Klang, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam were not included in the initial MRT alignment.

    Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala, was quoted as saying the government was exploring other options of the MRT alignment so that it could effectively connect other densely-populated areas to encourage a greater flow within the Klang Valley.

    Mohd Nur said a roadshow would be held in February to seek public feedback before the public display from March to May.

    Asked from which country the MRT’s trains would be acquired, he said the government has not decided, adding that, “it will be done through open tender”.

    “It will be done through the best specification possible, taking into consideration long-term cost of ownership. All will be done properly, openly and globally to make sure we have the best value possible,” he said.

    He said the government was busy seeking the best elements to be merged with the much-awaited MRT project, so that it could churn spillover effects to the country’s economy.

    The four-day visit, from Jan 5, was headed by SPAD chairman, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.

    Mohd Nur said the visit was fruitful as the delegation managed to learn about the business model operated by the Hong Kong’s metro system operator, MTR Corp, especially the idea of merging commercialisation with the MRT development.

    “There are a lot of fantastic ideas. We doing this as an ongoing effort to really make this MRT project a success in terms of minimising the government’s cost and developing opportunities for commercialisation,” he said.

    Established in 1975, MTR Corp is also involved in a wide range of business activities like consultancy services as well as property leasing and management in addition to its railway operations.

    Todate the MTR has completed development of 27 stations, generated 74,16 housing units and more than 1.7 million sq metres of commercial space.

    It also owns and manages a number of retail complexes throughout the country, and the business model has been proven successful as the cost of building new railways is borne by profits generated from the property segment.

    “So, that’s why we are interested in this model. For example, the MTR Corp manages to get about 35 per cent of its revenue from non-fare segment.

    “In terms of profit, it is almost 50 per cent (fares) and 50 per cent (non-fares revenue). So property is delivering a lot of profit to the bottom-line and that is used to offset the cost of infrastructure.

    “Based on MTR Corp’s model, they don’t actually used their money to develop the infrastructure as it is done through private venture. We are also looking at public-private partnership structure for this project,” he said.

    However, he said, the government has no immediate plan to appoint MTR Corp as consultant for Kuala Lumpur MRT, adding that the government was also looking the best practices also from the other part of the world to be adopted.

    “We will look globally … what have successfully been done in other countries like London and Singapore as there are different ingredients that work for them but might not work for us.

    “So, we should incorporate everything to make this project successful,” he said. — BERNAMA

    * I hope the integration of future MRT lines will not be by so called sky bridge/pedestrian bridge where you have to get in and out of the station/terminal again and something like that. That is not integration, that is called NONSENSE (b******t)!!!

    1. Hi Jeffrey

      Thank you for the update on the MRT – we are still working on a posting evaluating the changes that are happening to the MRT which we hope to post soon.

      We would appreciate if you can add a link to the original article that you copy-pasted into your comment.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

    1. @Harold

      Thanks for the feedback. Do encourage your friends to take a look at our postings on the MRT proposal and give their feedback to SPAD and the government.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. I will be very happy if all the MRT operators open up their live data for apps designers create applications which help the commuter to know when the next ride is arriving or if there is any disruptions in service. This will certainly prove that authority understands the “integration” which benefits the commuters.

    1. Hi @Ben

      We have sent this message to Prasarana and other parties and hope to see some results. Look for a posting on the GPS-based fleet-tracking system and the benefits of “Open Data” on our website soon.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  4. from what i understand from this plan, it only intergrate with ktm only.. but why there is no plan on increasing volume of busses.. that could increase the connectivity.. from my opinion, Kl is quite complicated to create an efficient public transport system due to poor town planning.. therefore bus is a great way to connect suburban to greater kl and within greater kl

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