MRT Update: TTDI Residents want project ‘on the right track’ (Update #2)

  • Updated with additional articles & letters!
  • Updated with additional articles following the objections in TTDI!

TRANSIT took note of this open letter from S. Bahari, a resident of TTDI who is a member of a pro-tem committee formed on 20 January 2011 to discuss the MRT project and give feedback on the project.

S. Bahari says in the letter that, “we are for the MRT and for a fair implementation of the project. It is hoped that we can work together with SPAD to find an alternative proposal….”

TRANSIT wishes to share the point of view of the Pro-Tem Committee so that their ideas, comments and concerns can be aired. We also believe that the contents of the letter raise some interesting information about the potential route through Bandar Utama and TTDI.

Is this the projected route for the MRT line through Bandar Utama? Image courtesy of TTDI-RA.

A section of the letter is posted below:

We want project to be on right track (Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Residents’ Association Blog)

Tuesday, 25th January 2011

It is a surprise to read the article by Zuhrin Azam Ahmad of the STAR on the 16th Jan 2011 (page 16) that said residents of TTDI during the dialogue session with SPAD were opposed to the MRT. As a result, many parties have criticized TTDI residents as being selfish. I am writing this open letter to all concerned to set the record straight.

During the dialogue session with Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam Darat (SPAD), [TRANSIT: That should be Pengankutan (transportation), not Perkhidmatan (services)] the Environmental Impact Study Consultants (EIS) and concerned TTDI residents who attended the meeting on 15 January 2011 at Eastin Hotel, it was made clear that we did not disapprove of the MRT. In fact we welcome it. It was the alignment of the line and the placement of the station that was the issue. A few comments have been written by those who did not attend the meeting but see it fit to make sweeping statements. For example, Dr. Ahmad Mustafa made a comment in the Star (21/1/11) of whining TTDI residents who oppose the MRT. I was at the dialogue session. There was neither whining nor any opposition to the MRT. It was a constructive dialogue where the argument was about the alignment, the EIS surveys (the lack of it) and where the station should be. During the meeting, we put forward the following questions to SPAD:

1) the alignment
2) the rationale in the choice of the station site

With regards to the alignment, the dialogue revolved around why the MRT should align along the LDP and not the more logical and viable route down the commercial area of Jalan Dataran Bandar Utama as was previously proposed in the original version of the MRT under the Greater KL plan. It would have been more logical to have a station along Dataran Bandar Utama as it can thus be within walking distance of the commercial and residential areas.

Image showing the original alignment for the MRT, from the Greater KL Plan. Image courtesy of TTDI-RA.

The second argument revolved around the placement of the proposed TTDI station (near TTDI exit road close to the TTDI market) and the proposed “One Utama” station that will be built at the junction of the main exit road of TTDI (Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi) and Bandar Utama.

[TRANSIT: The first location does not seem to be so terrible, but the location for the “Bandar Utama” station does not seem wise – wouldn’t a feeder bus system for TTDI (between the TTDI station & Bandar Utama station) be more effective than trying to site the Bandar Utama station right in between the two communities?]

These proposed train stations were opposed during the meeting. Among the reasons cited were that the areas would be congested due to the Malaysian culture of commuters getting someone to drop them off at the station as near as possible to avoid walking even a short distance or they will drive up to the station and park as close as possible along nearby TTDI residential roads (hence all the double parking that Malaysians are famous for).

[TRANSIT: Well, those things are certainly happening with the LRT today, so it is quite possible that the same would happen with the MRT]

We proposed an alternative during the dialogue; that the MRT runs down the Dataran Bandar Utama as originally planned and a station built at the One Utama massive car park adjacent to Central Park. This will have an additional advantage of connectivity of the MRT to the long distance bus service that is currently operating there. If the adjacent golf driving range is acquired, this area could be turned into a bus hub for buses throughout Malaysia thus fulfilling one of the factors stated by SPAD that alignment and station chosen must enhance Intra modal and Inter modal connectivity.

[TRANSIT: Another alternative would be to have the MRT built around the golf course & parking lot with a station located at the north end of 1 Utama – certainly the 1Utama developers could give up some of their surface parking lot.]

Currently, the TTDI station is proposed to be located at the other end of TTDI. However, this is not where the majority of the residents are. The original version of the MRT alignment from the greater KL plan was designed to serve residents as it goes into the residential area of TTDI via Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, into Jalan Dato Sulaiman. An area that seemed to be proposed for the station sits in the middle of TTDI near the most high density area of TTDI (where the condominiums and commercial areas are). Thus a high majority of TTDI residents can actually walk to the station if it is placed here as originally designed.

Image showing the original proposal overlaid over a development map of TTDI. Would the originally proposed TTDI station be located at the east end of Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi? Would the turns raise the noise level? Image courtesy of TTDI-RA.

Click here for a larger version of the above image.

[TRANSIT: This would certainly be an interesting proposal, but the turns (At Jalan Burhanuddian Helmi – Jalan Datuk Sulaiman and Jalan Dataran Bandar Utama – Lebuh Bandar Utama) would have to be quite sharp – and noisy – unless the MRT were to travel along the east side of 1 Utama and cross the LDP on an angle. As you can imagine, it would be much easier to follow the LDP-Jalan Damansara alignment.]

As fast as Dr. Ahmad Mustafa wants the MRT project to take off, please keep it in the back of your mind the proverb “Haste makes Waste”. There are enough white elephants in Malaysia and enough projects implemented that actually create new problems. In this respect, some of us fail to see the logic of the current MRT alignment as it is being made to serve commercial areas at the expense of low-density residential areas.

Actually, new areas such as Damansara Utama and Tropicana Mall, areas of higher residential density and with bigger commercial areas are more deserving to have the MRT station rather than quiet TTDI with a small commercial area (Banks and shops for cars) and residents, the majority of whom are mostly retired civil servants, senior professionals and foreigners who can afford homes in TTDI. The initial study and proposed alignment by Gamuda actually bypasses TTDI altogether, and it runs from Bandar Utama to Damansara Utama and to Tropicana mall, areas with higher density and commercial activities.

The article continues on from there with more comments. More letters & articles and additional feedback on the MRT project can be found below:

Some of their arguments can be found below:

  • both areas are high density commercial areas with medium and high density residential areas nearby;
  • The bus hub at 1 Utama already exists and can be expanded;
  • There is the option for shuttle bus service along Lebuh Bandar Utama to KBU and across the highway;
  • TTDI can still be served by a shuttle bus which would link multiple stations;
  • parking available in the areas is on a large scale, especially at 1 Utama;
  • tunneling under Jalan Dataran Bandar Utama is quite possible (unfortunately, tunneling through Damansara Uptown is not likely);
  • A financial commitment or nominal (RM1) lease-over of land by the developers could be obtained – especially since the projects would certainly benefit the commercial areas of both neighbourhoods a great deal;

TRANSIT Says:

As always, TRANSIT wants the public to look beyond the information conveyed in the mainstream media and learn more about public transport and the planning process.

This particular letter gives some very interesting comments from the perspective of the Residents’ Association’s Pro-Tem Committee. Although their bias about the MRT (suggesting that it is not suitable for “quiet” TTDI and suggesting it be directed to busy commercial areas at Damansara Uptown and Tropicana City Mall, or describing “the added horror of a giant train track and all the associated noise and vibrations looming above my home”) is clear, it is important that their feedback be heard and understood.

That said, TRANSIT is quite interested to learn more details about the MRT proposal as well as route within the Greater KL proposal. It is interesting that there are some significant differences, but as we have said before, planning changes and sometimes even the people in the government are not on the same page.

From an engineering perspective, we do not see the logic of trying to run the MRT along Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi or trying to make those turns as described in the letter above. It would be far easier from an engineering perspective to cross over the LDP at a reasonable point and make a gradual turn to Jalan Damansara – which is what SPAD is likely proposing.

But the idea of running the line down the middle of the LDP or attempting to locate a station over the LDP (and the flyover) at the Bandar Utama interchange does not seem to be that wise either.

And as we said before, the proposal from See Hoy Chan Holdings, developer of 1 Utama, which has offered to build the station under Central Park Bandar Utama, cannot really be ignored. Nor should the proposal to “adopt a station” from See Hoy Chan Bhd. (developer of Damansara Utama).

Our reasoning is actually pretty simple:

As we have said before, we will continue to follow the issue and gather more information about the proposals and create more opportunities for discussion and feedback.

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29 thoughts on “MRT Update: TTDI Residents want project ‘on the right track’ (Update #2)”

  1. I’m leaving in TTDI since 1980. Am very please with this residential, until the news on proposing a MRT running infront of my house along Jalan Damansara which will cause extra noice and polution. Am very concern with the proposal. Truly wish it will not happen.

  2. There is an element of stereotyping getting in the way of the whole discussion of MRT and TTDI residents. What’s wrong if a ttdi resident is concerned about the following as transit claims to be ‘biased’?

    ‘not suitable for “quiet” [why the need to highlight ‘quiet’??] TTDI and suggesting it be directed to busy commercial areas at Damansara Uptown and Tropicana City Mall, or describing “the added horror of a giant train track and all the associated noise and vibrations looming above my home”

    Fact is TTDI is a residential area. replace ttdi with a kampong and they will also want to say the same thing and have every right to without being unfairly branded ‘middle class’ or ‘anti-development'(the usual accusation for indigenous ppls). fact is that any project like this that effects the people living there has to be considered, whether it is a kampong, squater-area, or ttdi suburb.

    and there is a point in directing the mrt towards commercial areas where there is a greater need/want for an MRT and less chance of people ‘living’ there.

    residential areas need effective FEEDER buses,as transit mentioned. u don’t need mrt at every corner in residential areas. people don’t walk on the streets everywhere like in the ctr of town (eg. zone 1 london). people in suburbs get dropped of in the car, cycle, or get feeder buses to the nearest station (eg. zone 6 london, stations are at the fringes of residential areas). as such, stations serving residential areas need proper access, parking, drop off points. which is why it is stupid of them to even consider having the station at 1u/ttdi junction. they do not run through residential areas. even considering it running through residential areas as part of the plan shows the inexperience and ineptness in proper planning for a project like this.

    so pls, consider this from the pov of how it affects people as residents, not whether it is a middle class suburb or not.

    1. hi @befair

      Thanks for your comment. As you have stated there is clearly a lot of stereotyping getting in the way of the issue – but considering the number and type of comments that we have read on this topic, TRANSIT’s opinion is actually very moderate.

      Are some residents biased? Yes, they certainly are. And so what? Just as TRANSIT has its own bias (in favour of good, reliable, affordable, well-planned, efficient public transport), different residents and groups have their own opinions and bias.

      No one ever said that being biased is wrong. The problem is when people are biased and dismissive of other people’s point of view.

      That is the real problem that we have in this debate – people who go on record stating that TTDI needs / does not need (need itself is a biased word) MRT based on their own opinions, or people who dismiss the concerns of some TTDI residents as “NIMBY” (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) – ism without taking time to do their research.

      TRANSIT has given a great deal of support to persons who have objected to LRT extensions coming within 4m of their houses, as well as persons objecting to LRT extensions coming to areas that are “affluent”.

      We have also given support to people who just want to create awareness of the issues so that the debate can be held and more people can give their feedback.

      And yes, we choose to highlight words in statements that people make – especially when those words often reveal the bias within. We reserve the right to have an opinion.

      Please note that we did not write those words. Nor do we put words in other people’s mouths, write the words for them, or take their statements out of context.

      And for the record, we have highlighted TTDI because the debate about the MRT has been very public there. When the debate becomes equally public in other areas, we will highlight the issues there as well – without fear or favour.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. MRT or No MRT, One Utama is already a favoured destination cum meeting point for the TTDI folks AND a reliable shuttle/feeder service is already needed TODAY.

    As for the proposed TTDI MRT, it seems that the route is presently the coolest and greenest route. How many of those matured TTDI trees will be fallen in the name of “necessary” development? I do not think there is a “matured tree” factor in the other proposed MRT areas SO please take this seriously into account.

    1. @Waha

      Thanks for the comment. We certainly agree that a reliable feeder bus service is needed today and look forward to those improvements.

      As for trees – the MRT guideway will be running down the middle of Jalan Damansara through TTDI – how many mature trees are in the middle of Jalan Damansara in TTDI? The ornamental palms that are there would hardly be missed.

      The MRT pillars can also be surrounded with metal fencing to allow green plants to grow – they could absorb some of the carbon dioxide produced by cars.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  4. @befair

    It’s too bad you don’t want the MRT to be built at your place, cause they are definitely going to build it anyways and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
    Perhaps you could try conducting strikes and protest in your neighborhood. Burn some cars, Torch some trees and show them that you mean serious business and perhaps they will have second thoughts, or perhaps you gather the TTDI resident association to fork out some money to bribe them not to do it, after all, what’s a few million to a couple of CEOs, heh?

  5. Hi Transit

    Would be grateful if you could explain/elaborate
    the following statement you made in your mail to befair on 19 Feb/2011 in relation to MRT tracks beside TTDI:

    Quote: TRANSIT has given a great deal of support to persons who have objected to LRT extensions coming within 4m of their houses, as well as persons objecting to LRT extensions coming to areas that are “affluent” :Unquote

    I apologise for my ignorance.

    1. Hi @Seong

      It should be pretty clear. It was implied that TRANSIT is biased against TTDI residents for objecting to the MRT, but in the past TRANSIT has supported reasonable objections to the LRT extensions because the routing of those extensions was poorly planned.

      In addition, it should be clear that the relative affluence (nor lack of affluence) of an area is not an important factor in whether an area can support public transport – and should therefore not be used as an argument either way.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  6. @Waha

    hmm I wonder…

    how many mature trees were cleared so that you are allowed to stay in low density residential instead of a space efficient high density area?

    no one cares about your matured tree argument. There is nothing wrong with living next to an MRT line, because this line is in line with the plan to one day transform your inefficient plot of land into many condos and apartment. Thus, moving your lot far up the ranges of Titiwangsa and beyond.

  7. I just dont understand TTDI complaining about NOISE from the MRT!! Are you all deaf to the sound of endless vehicle traffic that goes past your house EVERYDAY? To the resident complaining about train noise the he thinks will occur along Jalan Damansara. I bet anyone who goes and stands next to Jalan Damansara. Its like a jam and freeway all day everyday.
    Your arguments are not justified and really do expose your predjudice against public transport. With so many things to really complain about in the TTDI (double and triple parking of cars in commercial areas, lack of pedestrian crossings, rampant litter and signboard ugliness) you choose something that will make KL a first world style city.Although you argue its not selfish, it really is on a global scale. Get in the real world. Look to Singapore. Values of houses and apts rise when they are near the MRT line and station.

    1. Hi Seong

      According to a recent article in the Malaysian Insider, SPAD will not be acquiring houses as they are outside the 20m land acquisition zone.

      We are following the story as closely as we can so we will do our best to keep everyone updated.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  8. TTDI is an area with numerous commercial, retail and residential areas. When progress takes place to improve the overall quality of life sometimes these acquistions are inevitable. As TTDI is not a historical area, Im sure the residents will be compensated. BUT, more importantly, people will have a decent form of public transport. Many car owners in KL dont give a care about public transport. The fact that is has been so apalling for so long, its interesting that all of these relativel wealthy TTDI residents are suddenly coming up with other ways to improve public transport. The amount of letters published in a certain daily paper says it all really. They use the arguments about noise, dust and traffic conjestion. Its like they are oblivious to the fact TTDI is an island surrounded by a mass of freeway style roads and the noise and filth caused by that doesnt matter. I am an professional who lives AND works in TTDI and I choose not to own a car and I utilise public transport to go to 1 Utama, to the LRT, to the city and to other places. The bus service has always been dreadful and no matter how I and others have tried to address this with a certain newspaper in the Letters section, they see fit to mainly publish the opposition to MRT.
    Whenever an extensive public transport system has been implemented, it will cause so inconvenience for the long term benefit of all whether they use it or not.

    1. Hi Seong

      We will continue to update this post with letters and other comments. We need this debate to take place and we need the public to get involved, positively.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  9. Hi Transit,

    Are you sure that the distance btw the houses along Pinggir Zaaba and the MRT has 20M distance? Because my neighbour told me that Spad told her that the distance btw her house and the MRT track will be 6Mtrs only. And because the tracks will be the road and not the house therefore, they are not acquiring the houses anymore. I don’t know what to think and believe, how can Spad will do/say one thing now and another thing tomorrow ? It is very disturbing.

    1. Hi @Jan

      We have based our statement on what SPAD has said in the media and we are seeking clarification from the CEO on the details of the actual distances.

      The minimum setback for a railway from a private property in Malaysia is 6m – this is not really based on law (although there are some clauses in the Railways Act and DoE related acts) but more of a “convention” (an agreed-upon practice that is followed in lieu of a specific, detailed law).

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  10. Hi transit,

    Thanks for your reply,
    However from information from a friend in Singapore, the distance from MRT track facing the front of the houses should be 35M. Why is it different in our country? And also, the 20M distance (buffer zone) might not be even enough not to mention only 6M from houses. Can you imagine what would be the life of the residents directly affected – in terms of noise pollution, air quality, health issue & etc? Can’t the MRT go underground in our area?

    1. Hi Jan

      Like I said, the difference is that the minimum setback was never specified in Malaysian law. The 6m is a convention that applies to a railway, but that law was written when the only railways in Malaysia were two ribbons of steel running through rural areas.

      The Railways Act does not properly address the specific challenges and requirements of an urban rail rapid transit system. This is a place where our wakil rakyat have been lacking and we are trying to get some resolution and improvement but there are few takers who are interested in rewriting laws and policy.

      And yes, this is why the proposed Kelana Jaya LRT extension will travel less than 6m from the Saujana Residency in SS16, as well as around 6m away from houses in Subang Alam … and why you can stand at the KL Sentral monorail platform and look at the balconies of the flats next door.

      The best suggestion that we can give is to add your voice to the calls for the MRT to go underground. Send your comments to SPAD and the Malaysian media and your wakil rakyat.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  11. @Jan

    you wrote “Can you imagine what would be the life of the residents directly affected – in terms of noise pollution, air quality, health issue & etc?”

    I do understand some residents complaints about the MRT. But what I find strange is that the existing highways that run passed these houses dont seem to produce noise pollution, air quality, health issues etc?

    No one in TTDI opposed to the MRT seems to care about the hazards of the highways that surround our suburb.

    When those TTDI residents opposed, so loudly to the MRT start to show concern for this equally polluting and increasing hazard, then maybe others out there will feel some empathy with you about the MRT routing and structure.

  12. Hi Transit

    I think @Jan’s “Can you imagine what would be the life of the residents directly affected – in terms of noise pollution, air quality, health issue & etc?”, has to be viewed in the context of his Mar 2/11 mail to you, expressing sincere concerns of having adequate buffer zone.

  13. Actually, Jan’s comments have also been consistent with most complaints about the MRT from many people. I wonder if there is slight selective vision and deafness with some TTDI about the dreadful noise from car traffic. Ive stood in the streets in question and the dust in the air and the roar of the traffic is unquestionable.

  14. Lee Oh,
    yeah I get the point you keep trying to make but what Im saying is that there is not enough opposition to the use of the car as if its people’s god given right to drive. At any time of the day in the commercial sections of TTDI, you will see cars (from Protons to BMWS) double and triple parked. Where is the outcry over this. The transport dept change the road junction near VADS building making it almost impossible for pedestrians to cross the road without being killed. Where is the outcry over that? I get abused by a TTDI resident who decides to park his very expensive car in the bus stop. I point out to him its a bus stop and he tells me “So what, who cares about the bus or people who use it”.
    On another matter, doesnt it worry you that the Jalan Damansara is a nightmare with its renovation that is making all drivers go nuts and destroying the solice of homeowners nearby? Interestingly enough, in the time it has taken Singapre to construct the entire middle line of its MRT with many new stations, we cant even renovate a road junction, and without ruining the solice of residents.
    How about all of the people opposed putting their huge amount of energy into an decent alternative that will still benefit TTDI residents (rich and not so rich).

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