BRT in Kuching developing a name & face?

For some time, TRANSIT has been following proposals for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Kuching.

The early proposal for a BRT system was called the Kuching City Area Transit (CAT, of course) and would have had a number of lines running through the Kuching town area as well as to the north side of the river. The proposals for Kuching CAT seemed to emphasize loops around different parts of Kuching City.

The original route map proposal for Kuching CAT.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

The most recent proposal is to have a Kuching BRT system that focuses on service on major road corridors. Rather than loops, this proposal focuses on building up demand in certain corridors.

Both proposals have been given strong support by Sarawak Urban Development Minister Abang Johari Openg, who has been wondering why it is taking so long to get approval from the federal government for a project that only costs RM200 million.

The bus rapid transit proposal also received support from a recent summit on public transport for Kuching. You can see TRANSIT’s comments here, which we will also re-iterate below.

Most recently, TRANSIT has noted an image posted in a forum on Kuching Public Transport that shows a “Kuching Transit” bus service. Is it official or someone’s fantasy drawing? We don’t know yet….

Photoshopped images of Bus Rapid Transit services in Mexico City & Bangkok give us an idea of what a Kuching Transit BRT might look like. Note that the logo resembles that of RapidKuching.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

TRANSIT: Note that the logo on the image uses the Bar & Roundel motif commonly associated with Transport for London, as well as colours associated with RapidKuching.

The image has a photo-shopped BRT vehicle from Mexico City’s Bus Rapid Transit, as well as a photo-shopped rendering of the Bangkok BRT system (one which has been posted on TRANSIT’s website a number of times).
The original images:

Mexico City “Metrobus” BRT vehicle

Image of a Mexico City Metrobus articulated BRT vehicle. Note the similarity to the image of a Kuching Transit BRT vehicle, shown above.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

Bangkok BRT render

Artist's impression of the Bangkok Bus Rapid Transit line, currently under construction.
Artist's impression of the Bangkok Bus Rapid Transit line, currently under construction.

TRANSIT Says:

What? Bus lanes? Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

That, in a nutshell, seems to be the message that gets out whenever we in Malaysia happen to discuss bus lanes, “busways” and bus rapid transit.

We guess that the reason for this is simple: the public likes simple thoughts & ideas, they have no faith in complicated proposals, and they have been convinced that traffic flow is somehow an important, even sacred concept that should determine how we build our cities & communities.

Kuching is making a wise choice by looking at a realistic solution to public transport – building rapid transit services using mostly existing infrastructure, enhancing the streetscape, and making it clear that pedestrians & public transport users are as important as car drivers.

Sadly, the Sarawak government only has access to RM200 million – hardly enough to create the Bus Rapid Transit system that Kuching needs, considering all costs & other factors.

The other thing that has to be considered is that by selecting “BRT” as the mode, they are not doing that much different from those who say “we need LRT/MRT” without providing data & evidence to show it is justified.

TRANSIT recognizes the importance of Bus Rapid Transit in Kuching, but we also believe there is enough demand to support a light rail corridor running from Kuching Sentral, past Kuching Airport and all the way up the Kuching Waterfront.

We would love to be able to prove the numbers beyond a “strong hunch” and we would love to have more evidence than “that’s an old railway corridor (Sarawak Government Railway) so it would be ideal for a tramway”

But sometimes we get these feelings in our bones and we just know that it is right.

Now…regarding the renders above, including the name & face of Kuching BRT – you are welcome to draw your own conclusions – and as always, share your comments with us in the space below.

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6 thoughts on “BRT in Kuching developing a name & face?”

  1. Looking at the pics, I suppose the BRT is going to be something like a tram but having the flexibility of a bus. I like it having a high floor level, meaning that the floor level inside the bus would be nearly stepless and be more like a train.

    1. @kura

      Thank you for the comment.

      Of course, if the service is going to be more like a train, why not just build a train? There are cities that offer high-floor Rapid Tram systems (Calgary & Edmonton in Canada, and Buffalo in the USA are just a few examples).

      MRT trains in Chicago (which are smaller-sized carriages similar in size to our Ampang LRT) also run across certain streets in the outskirts of Chicago.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

    1. @epul

      Everyone wants an LRT for their city. Right now after KL the talk is to build LRT in Penang & Johor Baru (according to SPAD), LRT in Ipoh (according to the Ipoh Council) and LRT in Kuching too.

      At least the Kuching & Sarawak governments are being a bit more sensible than, say, Ipoh.

      But as we said in the post, TRANSIT believes there is enough demand for a rapid tram service between Kota Sentosa, Kuching Sentral, Kuching Airport, and the Kuching Waterfront (and eventually across the river to Petra Jaya) along the Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce corridor (it has other names too but it is the longest, straightest north-south road in Kuching and clearly shows its roots as a railway alignment).

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. To be frank with all of you since CVLB will in charge for this project, it worries me a lot. Literally a lot, you Sarawakians especially Kuching people, all of you’d better cross your fingers and hope for a swift, efficient and smooth construction of this BRT project.

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