TRANSIT takes note of this letter in the newspaper today that speaks about the PM’s “walkabout” in KL and links public transport improvements to the proposed LRT extension to Subang Jaya.
Friday May 1, 2009
Less talk, more action please
THE major dailies had a field day reporting on the PM’s walkabout and on his trying out the public transportation system recently.
He is not the first nor would he be the last high-ranking officer to try out the public transport system as in the past, we also had our former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir trying out the public transport.
If my memory serves me right, in 2004 Najib announced a national transportation blueprint with a comprehensive LRT system connecting Kelana Jaya and Subang Jaya among an extensive network of public transportation for the Klang Valley.
Our former Subang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng was so excited and even offered comprehensive proposals as to where the LRT lines should run in Subang Jaya. At that time, I joked with my friends that by the time the LRT lines reach Subang Jaya, I would probably have retired.
I am spot on and five years later, I am now retired and there is still no LRT to Subang Jaya. The existing system of KTM Komuter can’t even afford to replace broken down trains and the services have deteriorated since it was first launched about a decade ago.
My conclusion is that we will never have the political will to implement a good public transportation system and Klang Valley residents will continue to suffer going about their daily lives.
I cannot help making a comparison with Guangdong province in China. Guangdong is one of the largest trading and manufacturing provinces in China and its importance is just like Selangor to Malaysia.
Just by observing how the transportation system runs, I can imagine why the Chinese economy is so cost-efficient. Things get done, without any if’s and but’s. Malaysians have a lot to learn about getting things done and not keep talking about getting things done.
I still hope the LRT will one day get to Subang Jaya and I hope I will not be too old to board one by then.
WAN YEW LEONG,
The problem that exists here is the assumption that the only decent way to build a public transport system is to build LRT. Unfortunately, the communities in the Klang Valley are very much decentralized. This means that a network that serves the Klang Valley must have many lines.
The cost of building all of these lines as LRT is simply staggering. It would cost more than RM100 billion to build LRT lines to connect all the major communities in the Klang Valley and Selangor as proposed in the KL City 2020 Draft Local Plan.
The problem of political will is that the government lacks the will to spend this money. The government representatives that TRANSIT has spoken to (including MBs and ministers and deputy ministers) want to find ways to improve public transport without actually spending their own money.
This is one reason why the projects have been delayed for so long. It is hard to believe but Prasarana, a company owned by the Finance Ministry (Malaysia’s Treasury) is facing a challenge to get the money to build these extensions!
The other problem is that the government does not have the political will to accept that, for the most part the solutions for public transport in the Klang Valley will need to involve the existing buses and KTM service.
Wan Yew Leong is correct in noting that these services have deteriorated – which is why we need to concentrate on improving these services.
It is dangerous to spend more money on LRT extension if there is no existing demand for public transport already in place. Similarly, it is impossible to get loans for public transport improvements unless the existing demand for public transport is in place.
That is why TRANSIT has always said that we have to improve existing services before we can invest new money into public transport.
As for the extension of the LRT to Subang Jaya, USJ and Putra Heights, the government and Prasarana have provided no data to suggest that this extension is even necessary or viable.
TRANSIT believes that the better choice, from a planning perspective, is to extend the line to the Shah Alam stadium at Batu Tiga.
There is space here to build a proper Integrated Transport Terminal for express and urban and intercity buses, taxi service, LRT and KTM. There is even a chance to link public transport to air travel since Subang Airport is very close by.