TRANSIT came across this interesting letter from Benjamin tan which was posted to the Malaysiakini.com website. The letter raises some interesting points about public transportation planning in Malaysia.
Where art thou LRT extensions?
Benjamin Tan | May 13, 09 5:51pm
As a citizen of the Klang Valley, I would like to know the progress of the Kota Damansara-Cheras MRT line, Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT extensions. It is already mid-2009 and once again, Klang Valley folks should expect the worst from this government of ours-never-ending delays and mismanagement.
Is the government taking us for a ride? It has promised that the lines will be ready latest by 2012, but that timeline doesn’t look promising since construction has yet to start on all of these lines.
In the first place, which Malaysian company has the expertise to build and maintain an efficient and reliable rail transportation system for the Klang Valley? Based on past experience, there is none.
The Kelana Jaya and Ampang Lines, which were built more than a decade ago, have not served their purpose well and have caused much inconvenience to the public at large due to poor route alignments, poor physical integration between interchanging stations and never-ending technical failures.
One truly wonders where the public was in all of this? 10 years ago, did they give feedback? Were their views even considered? Or was any comments or objections overruled or otherwise ignored in this attempt to build public transport as quickly as possible.
We are seeing more of the same today. The extensions were announced in 2004 by Dato’ Seri Najib when he was DPM. Why is it that Prasarana has waited until 2009 to do soil testing and route planning?
What can we expect from these proposed lines and line Extensions? Will we have another Abdullah Hukum Station which has limited users? Or, another Masjid Jamek station, where users will have a hard time interchanging between the rail lines?
We can only wonder – since people generally think it is better not to know. Those who object in Taman Esplanad and Subang Jaya and Putra Heights will be dismissed, called “NIMBYs” (Not-In-My-Back-Yard), accused of being selfish, etc. They will be told to accept the proposal because it is for the “greater good.”
But this acceptance will lead to the same problems of the past – inconvenience, poor planning, bad infrastructure and much more.
Careful consideration should be given when building the new stations, taking into account the hot and humid weather that Klang Valley users have to endure. The stations should be air-conditioned and walkway exits should be long and extensive enough to ensure broad connectivity within each single station.
We always hear about this but the fact is that these stations will mostly be above ground and therefore open to the air. The underground stations will have air conditioning – but that is another system just waiting to break down. The elevated stations do not need air conditioning. Ceiling and wall fans will work fine. Besides, how long are we expecting passengers to wait for their trains?
Apart from building new lines, the government should seriously consider realigning the Abdullah Hukum Station to Mid Valley, and integrate the Masjid Jamek station so that both the Ampang and Kelana Jaya line are properly integrated for interchanging between
the rail lines.
Integrating the Masjid Jamek Station is quite a challenging project – it is more than just building a walkway from the Kelana Jaya line station to the Ampang Line station. Besides, there is a walkway that has been completed already as part of the Plaza Masjid Jamek project – it just has not been opened yet.
Really connecting the lines means that we have to build lifts and concourses – perhaps the real effective solution is to send the LRT underground instead.
The government should appoint Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation or Singapore’s MRT Corporation as the operator for the Klang Valley rail transportation. These corporations provide an efficient, fast and reliable rail transportation for its people and are well-known for completing projects ahead of schedule. In this regards, we have no confidence and trust in Malaysian corporations.
With the management and oversight model that we have proposed, it would be possible for a private company to be selected through open tender for a project as big as an LRT and as small as operating bus service.
RapidKL has a contract to operate the LRT and buses for 10 years. After that contract is over (in 2013) we hope that the government will have an open tender system.