Brickfields on ‘collision course’ because of the new bus & taxi lane?

On December 3rd, 2001, buses & taxis leaving KL on the southbound route through Brickfields began using the contra-flow bus & taxi lane on Jalan Tun Sambanthan.

The bus & taxi lane was actually supposed to begin operations on 20th August 2011 but the start was delayed because of objections from business owners in the area who complained that not having car-parks in front of their shops would somehow cause them to lose business.

Now that operations along the bus & taxi lane have started, business owners are actively protesting.

In addition, there is a lot of confusion over what is happening in the area. While the NST claimed that things were going smoothly for buses & taxis, The Star reported traffic chaos. There have been a number of collisions between motorists and, even more disturbing, a number of collisions between pedestrians and buses! A RapidKL bus driver has been suspended pending an internal investigation related to one crash – the aftermath of which resulted in a hostile crowd and vandalising of the bus.

A Metrobus leads a RapidKL through the new contra-flow bus & taxi lane in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. The lane allows buses to travel southbound on Jalan Tun Sambanthan. Image courtesy of the NST.

Even worse, it appears that some politicians are getting involved, possibly there to stroke frustrations in order to enjoy a more populist appeal before the upcoming election!

As if the congestion & traffic in Brickfields was not bad enough????

Give new system a chance, public urged (The Star – Metro)
Saturday December 10, 2011
By BAVANI M
bavanim@thestar.com.my

THE residents and traders of Little India in Brickfields should give the newly-introduced bus and taxi lane system a chance before dismissing it as non-workable, said Federal Territory People’s Progressive Party chairman Datuk A. Chandra-kumanan.

“Whatever rules and policies implemented by the government has been carried out in accordance with the wishes of the people and for it to work you need to give it time,’’ he said.

Chandrakumanan, who made a working visit to Brickfields on Tuesday, said he decided to see for himself what was happening after receiving complaints from the public.

Showing the way: A DBKL enforcement officer guiding traffic in Brickfields. Photo by RICKY LAI for The Star.


He and 10 members from his team walked along Jalan Tun Sambanthan observing and advising people as well as trying to understand the situation better.Many traders and residents took the opportunity to complain about the new system which was implemented on Saturday.

“Some complaints such as the lack of parking space and the difficulty in loading and unloading goods at business premises is being addressed.

“The bus lane is still on trial and you need to give some time before dismissing it as a failure,’’ added Chandrakumanan.

The bus and taxi lane system in Jalan Tun Sambanthan and Jalan Travers was enforced at 8am on Saturday and took motorists by surprise and left many fuming.

The new lane is for buses and taxis from the city centre heading towards Taman Seputeh and Bangsar.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall traffic enforcement officers were stationed at crucial points to redirect motorists who were confused by the new system.

City Hall had placed 10 officers along Jalan Tun Sambanthan to redirect motorists.

A major source of confusion was at the Public Bank intersection which has been turned into a dedicated lane for buses and taxis coming from the city centre.

The lane begins at the intersection of Jalan Tun Sambanthan and Jalan Tun Sambanthan 4 and goes through Little India and heads into Taman Seputeh and Bangsar via Jalan Travers.

All parking bays along Jalan Tun Sambanthan and Little India were removed.

The bus lane enforcement period will be from 6am to 8pm.

Some 41 replacement bays have been provided at the backlanes of Jalan Tun Sambanthan and 54 created at the backlanes of Little India as well as near SMK La Salle.

In view of the bus lane and new parking bays, all loading and unloading of goods at the backlanes can only be carried out from 8pm to 6am.

TRANSIT Says:

We do not like the lack of information and the ‘suddenness’ of the implementation, but let’s be honest here … the project has been going on for months and the implementation has actually been held back because of protests.

Frankly, when you look at the picture above, Brickfields appears to be an exciting place, with urban development on both sides of Jalan Tun Sambanthan. What is really important is to get people to walk around and enjoy a cool, relaxing Brickfields community that is accessible to all.

Instead of protesting the changes, why not work towards a common goal of a better Brickfields?

See related articles by Patrick Lee in Free Malaysia Today:

Traders in Little India, Brickfields, close business and protest over contra-flow (The Star)
Saturday December 10, 2011
By JAYAGANDI JAYARAJ and JASTIN AHMAD TARMIZI
metro@thestar.com.my

THE business community in Little India, Brickfields, held a protest yesterday carrying black flags and shutting their outlets for an hour to show their frustration over the poor traffic management and lack of parking bays which have led to a 50% drop in business.

About 150 people were involved in the protest held along Jalan Tun Sambanthan.

Little India Action Committee chairman S. Patha said there were about 500 outlets in the area and ever since the beautification project last year business had dropped.

Making a point: Traders in Little India, Brickfields carrying black flags to protest against the traffic problems in their area. Photo by CAROL LEONG for The Star

He added that lack of parking and bad traffic management were the two main causes for the poor business.

[TRANSIT: Traffic congestion in Brickfields has been a “never-ending story” for as long as anyone can remember. Perhaps the bigger question is, why are these businesses still targeting the ‘drive-in’ or ‘drive-by’ customer? There are thousands of people who walk through Brickfields every day, including area residents, public transport users and people who enjoy the community services. How about catering to these customers instead of the people who pass through every day.]

“The rental has gone up 100% but the business is down 50%. A ground floor shop rental is now RM25,000 compared with RM15,000 before.

“Customers are afraid to come here because of the lack of parking bays. Whatever parking left is often taken up by people who park here to travel to work via the Monorail or LRT.

“Customers find it difficult to find praking [sic] bays,” he said.

Patha said the community was also upset that the bus and taxi contra-lane was implemented despite objection from the business community.

“It seems like the authorities do not respect the business community. It has already caused many accidents and what if a bus breaks down one day, it will just worsen the situation,” he said.

[TRANSIT: The situation was bad when there was no bus lane. There was less parking back then. The government has replaced street-parking with parking garages. Buses are moving faster now. Traffic flow will improve slowly over time. And guess what, people will come to Brickfields using public transport.]

He added that the committee would be sending a proposal to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on how to improve the traffic situation.

“It involves having some multi-storey car parks and a couple of flyovers for smoother traffic flow,” he said.

[TRANSIT: What is the point of this proposal? DBKL is already building more multi-storey car parks. The flyover at Jalan Travers & Jalan Bangsar opened already. The exit at the south end of Brickfields towards Seputeh has been improved as well!]

Also present during the protest were Bukit Bintang MP Fung Kui Lun and Subang MP R. Sivarasa.

Fung said DBKL should study the traffic condition and the people’s needs before starting on the contra lane for buses and taxis.

[TRANSIT: Fung is assuming they have not … but has he asked to see the report?]

“They should have also done the socio-economic impact of all the work that has taken place,” he said.

Sivarasa said DBKL should use the money from development charges in the area to rectify the traffic infrastructure in Brickfields.

“The current situation is where accidents are waiting to happen. What DBKL has forgotten is that most important stakeholders in Brickfields are the business community and residents,” he said.

DBKL deputy director-general (planning) Zulkifli Ibrahim said DBKL was monitoring the traffic situation in Brickfields.

“We are going to put up more signs and ask bus and taxi drivers to drive slowly. Our enforcement officers and the police are there every day monitoring the situation,” he said.

Zulkifli also said DBKL had provided alternative parking after implementing the bus and taxi contra-lane.

“To implement the system, we had to clear the lane but we have provided alternative parking,” he said.

He added that he was not aware about the protest staged by the traders.

“This is a new system and people are not used to it now. For now it is good for everyone that is why we implemented it. Maybe in future if there is a better solution we can improve,” he told reporters after launching a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a new four-storey building and multi-purpose hall in SMJK Chong Hwa in Jalan Gombak, representing Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail.

TRANSIT Says

We wonder if this might finally be the time when traffic congestion in Brickfields is reduced to tolerable levels.

Instead of a free-for-all situation that actually makes things worse for everyone, the bus & taxi lane is helping to speed up public transport service and reduce congestion.

Sure, the system is not perfect. It is much more important that we get more buses to bypass Brickfields and exit KL to the south using Jalan Syed Putra / Lingkaran Syed Putra.

We also need to encourage more people to use public transport to get to KL Sentral – either via the KTM Komuter, Kelana Jaya LRT or KL Monorail – and access Brickfields. Yes, all those services need improvement and we also need to have better access between KL Sentral and Brickfields.

And yes, in the future, the Federal Highway – Syed Putra route will be Malaysia’s first Bus Rapid Transit line, as proposed by SPAD in the Bus Transformation Plan.

But the residents and traders in Brickfields (and Bangsar, and Sentul, and Selayang, and PJ Old Town, and Subang Jaya among others) have to realize that they are not living in sleepy towns on the outskirts of KL anymore.

These towns were once distinct, separate places but they have been absorbed by the overgrown “concrete & asphalt jungle” that is the KL of today. Like it or not, times have changed, our communities have changed, and we need to implement changes to deal with the new transport challenges.

We certainly agree that more information could have been shared about the bus & taxi lane, but what we really need is holistic planning that gets everyone on the same page about public transport, community development and urban renewal.

Otherwise we will just have one-time implementation of solutions that remain separate and do not become part of a continuous, whole system that makes our lives better.

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