MRT Update: Is this our new MRT network?

TRANSIT took note of this recent article in Star Biz, which highlights the planning for the 2nd MRT line, an “orbital” line running around the city centre that has been named the  “Circle Line”

The article also mentions an “Orange Line” which will run from Ampang to Klang through Seputeh & what looks like Petaling Jaya.

It appears that the “Blue Line” from Sg. Buloh to Kajang will interchange with the Circle line at Pusat Bandar Damansara and the proposed KL Financial District at Dataran Perdana – while the “Orange Line” will interchange with the Circle Line at MidValley-KL EcoCity and the KL Financial District.

Star Graphic showing the proposed MRT line in the centre of KL. Image courtesy of The Star - accuracy not verified by SPAD.

As you can see from the Star Graphic above, there are clearly some inaccuracies that have to be mentioned – the monorail which does not connect to KL Sentral or the Ampang LRT line at Titiwangsa is a clear example.

And this begs the very important question of why SPAD and Pemandu are giving briefings to property developers, analysts, the media and members of the public who appear to understand very little about public transport planning and holistic mass transport planning.

In other words, why no briefing for TRANSIT? Because only TRANSIT will be able to give SPAD & Pemandu the insights they need for the MRT and the public transport system as a whole.

The article as well as TRANSIT’s comments on the lines & interchanges proposed above are after the jump.

All eyes and ears on second MRT
Monday January 31, 2011
By TEE LIN SAY

KUALA LUMPUR: The second mass rapid transit (MRT) line, which circles the Kuala Lumpur city centre (KLCC) orbital and known as the “circle line”, is already in the final planning stage.

The details are expected to be announced in March.

“Its alignment must depict the current and future business districts in Kuala Lumpur,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and chief executive officer of Pemandu Datuk Seri Idris Jala during an Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) update to analysts and fund managers recently.

[TRANSIT: Really? Shouldn’t the line reflect existing and future public transport demand and development planning?]

In the longer term, a third line to Port Klang was being comtemplated, he said. The circle line is expected to cover the hotspots surrounding the KLCC, Jalan Bukit Bintang, the new Kuala Lumpur International Financial District in Dataran Perdana, KL Ecocity, Pusat Bandar Damansara and Sentul, among others.

[TRANSIT: Can anyone explain the two strange bulges in the “Circle Line” to the north & south?]

Meanwhile, the “blue line” the first line which is a 50km alignment that covers Sungai Buloh to Kajang, via Pusat Bandar Damansara and Bukit Bintang is slated for completion in 2016. The network of all the three MRT lines will be fully operational by 2020.

“Greater KL now has a population of 6 million people. By 2020, we will have 10 million people. If we don’t have the MRT, the city will be choked. Right now, nearly everybody drives. This is not sustainable,” said Idris.

[TRANSIT: And what is going to happen in the next 6-10 years while the public await the MRT?]

He added that currently 13% of people commuted using urban transportation. Under the ETP, Idris said this should increase to 50%, adding that the funding structure for the MRT would be disclosed by end-February.

“Apart from reducing travelling time, the MRT will also cause property prices to appreciate because of better accessibility. If your house is near the MRT station, prices will go up because of the commercialisation created around the area,” said Idris.

[TRANSIT: As we have said before, higher property prices can also lead to increased cost of living, pushing lower and middle income people out of Kuala Lumpur and away from the public transport that they will likely use.]

Some analysts are wary of the ambitious plans laid out by Pemandu.

“As usual, it’s a case of execution. Will the Government be able to actually implement the project? We’ll need to see it being done to believe it. More importantly, how is the Government going to fund this project?” asked a construction analyst.

Another analyst said the Government was likely to reduce cost by getting developers to co-fund some of the MRT stations.

On implementation, he said that Pemandu would have learnt from past lessons of the LRT, monorail and commuter train.

Some brokers have notably been able to analyse the impact of the proposed MRT comprehensively.

In a Malaysia Market Strategy Report titled “Property boom-boom” released on Jan 26, global investment bank UBS’ head of research Chris Oh said Malaysia was set to enjoy improved connectivity in the coming years with the proposed infrastructure rollout of the MRT system and possible high-speed rail linkage between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

He said the MRT captured the imagination of the people, developers and investors. He expects property value around a radius of 20km of the city centre to rise significantly.

The preference would be on developers who have vast landbank with high-density mixed development around MRT stations.

“Interest in Malaysian property will be fuelled by foreigners looking out for higher returns (via undervalued currency and low entry costs) than their home countries (Singapore and Hong Kong) and the absence of significant restrictions on property ownership by foreigners,” said Oh.

Singapore-based DBS Research was the first to issue a property sector report titled “Entering a Golden Era” on Jan 14, analysing the impact of MRT on the property sector.

The analyst, Yee Mei Hui, said: “The MRT system is expected to be a structural catalyst for the rise in value of the real estate surrounding MRT stations.”

In the report, the firm was projecting boldly that land values in MRT hot spots could jump by up to six-fold over the next five years.

She said the MRT would have a strong structural impact on the Kuala Lumpur real estate, given that the KL city had been under-invested since the last wave of mega-projects in the late 1990s.

The new MRT will create new opportunities for high-density mixed developments, urban renewal and new suburban townships.

In turn, this has boosted the potential for land prices to reach new peaks with higher plot ratios and more commercial developments. Other than existing prime areas, she identified KL Ecocity, Pusat Bandar Damansara and Sentul as new locations for high-density developments to watch out for.

TRANSIT Says:

When we first heard of the MMC-Gamuda proposal, we were interested in the research & justification behind the public transport corridors that were proposed.

Some of the interesting features of the network proposal, such as the circle line and the two northwest-southeast lines (from Sg. Buloh to Kajang & Serdang respectively) were interesting enough to warrant further research.

Now it is clear that the MRT proposal that Pemandu and SPAD have come up with is quite different from what MMC-Gamuda had originally proposed.

The problem, however, is that we still do not have accurate details about what is going to be done, where it is going to be done, and why it is going to be done.

The original MMC-Gamuda proposal integrated the Circle Line with the Ampang line from Chan Show Lin to Ampang station. The new Circle Line does not go anywhere close tot the Ampang Line and instead appears to follow a strange alignment that might or might not be the MRRI (with bulges in the north and south to service areas outside the MRRI boundary).

We also have to wonder why the Blue Line and Orange Line will clearly skirt the city centre instead of providing clear & consistent public transport corridors that cross the City Centre.

For example, the Blue Line appears to follow the LDP & Sprint Link in Petaling Jaya, then Jalan Duta and the Mahameru Highway past KL Sentral to Pasar Seni, then along Raja Chulan – before taking a turn south.

Similarly, the Orange Line from the east appears to follow the Ampang-KL Elevated Highway, then Jalan Raja Chulan, before dipping south to the new KL Financial District and then west through Taman Desa & OUG & Seputeh, before dipping south again through Petaling Jaya – presumably on to the KESAS Highway and on to Klang.

So TRANSIT wonders, why not have the Blue Line continue south past KL Sentral and be the link on the south side, while the Orange Line can continue past KLCC and be the link on the north side.

If this were to happen, then the lines would cross at the KL Financial District and cross at Pasar Seni or KL Sentral – which would allow for interchanges near KL’s major public transport hub.

Again, we do not know exactly what Pemandu and SPAD have proposed, let alone why they have proposed these routes. It could be very well that engineering the lines in the manner proposed by SPAD and Pemandu is lower in cost even though it appears to be less sensible from the map.

Another obvious question that needs to be ask is why there is no plan to extend the Ampang Line to Jalan Kepong – which already has an extra wide road allowance that clearly shows they were planning for something – an expressway or LRT or tram. The density along Jalan Kepong would certainly justify the construction of an MRT or LRT extension.

Since KL residents directly to the north of Sentul Timur LRT station have indicated that they do not want the line to be extended, TRANSIT proposes that the Sentul Timur segment be downgraded to a spur line, and the LRT mainline be extended further to the north and west.

As always, your thoughts & feedback are quite welcome.

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4 thoughts on “MRT Update: Is this our new MRT network?”

  1. I’m disturbed by the mindset of these ‘public transport’ people that the plans are up for public viewing at MidValley, well known for traffic jams and poor public transport, rather than simply putting them on a well-publicized website and asking for public comment.

    1. @Commoditymodels that is a fair point. Having the Open House at KL Sentral (I believe SPAD HQ is there) would probably be a better place – but MidValley on the weekend has a huge amount of people there – and part of the goal of the MRT is to get as many people aware of it as possible.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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