- Updated with a summary of the meeting!
- Updated with comments on how to rescue Klang from being a dead, ‘drive-through’ town!
TRANSIT notes that there will be a meeting of Klang MPs, Klang ADUNs and Klang Municipal Council members regarding Klang public transport:
We hope that residents of Klang will attend the session and come prepared to discuss issues related to Klang Sentral, connections with KL, bus rapid transit, traffic congestion, etc.
For more information about TRANSIT’s proposal, see our Klang proposal here.
Summary of Meeting
It turned out that the meeting, which was chaired by Pandamaran Assemblyman and Exco for Local Government Ronnie Liu was intended to focus more on general issues in Klang, but many people there were concerned about public transport, 1-way streets and businesses closing – and they expressed their concerns loudly and clearly.
Various taxi associations were present at the meeting to express their anger over the tearing down of the taxi stand at Lorong Kupayang recently. Others were angry about Klang Sentral and expressed their frustration about the idea of paying more money to get to the new terminal.
The biggest complaints of the night were reserved for the 1way streets and ongoing construction which had turned the roads in the Central Business District of North Klang (on the north side of the river) into a complete mess.
One commentator described the roads as an F1 circuit!
It is clear that the public transport and urban design problems in Klang are not going to be resolved easily. We can only hope that the wakil rakyat who were present are seriously interested in solving the problem – otherwise, Klang is going to face serious economic decline.
So what went wrong?
Klang’s current problems are directly tied to 3 interesting, somewhat interdependent factors – a town designed for pedestrians, an increasingly mobile automobile using population, and toll expressways.
As the population of Klang town grew, more and more people moved out of the town centre to the surrounding areas. With the presence of the Federal Highway & Old Klang Road, Klang also became an affordable bedroom community for those who might live in Klang and work in KL, Shah Alam or other towns.
More cars, more roads, more cars
The presence of increased volumes of cars did not help. Because the old road ended right in the centre of town, large volumes of traffic were forced into the centre of the town. But the town centre was designed in a grid pattern, for pedestrians rather than cars.
The other problem is that are only two real connections across the Klang river – forcing traffic heading north or south to travel through the town centre.
The presence of the new east-west toll highways did not really help much. Both the KESAS highway and NKVE do not actually reach Klang town – traffic therefore must still use the old road to get to the town centre.
A ‘Drive-Through’ Town
Effectively, Klang became a ‘drive-through’ town, and the government decided to encourage this by introducing 1-way streets to increase traffic flow, rather than trying to find ways to divert the traffic out of the town centre, or reduce the volume of traffic.
The current “F1 circuit’ and the closure of the North Klang Bus Terminal are two examples of this – instead of encouraging pedestrians and public transport to visit the town (using the ‘stop, shop & stay concept‘) , the government has pushed them both away.
Pedestrians are dissuaded by the large numbers of cars and buses and taxis have been pushed out of the town centre by the local council.
In other words, the government made Klang town unwelcome for the people who wanted to be there, and then made it easier for the people who did not want to be there to simply drive through the town.
Despite what you may think, drivers don’t want to ‘stop, shop & stay’ in the town centres. They prefer to go to places where there is free or low-cost parking and lots of space – namely suburban shopping centres.
The result is that local businesses shut down because they cannot be sustained by the drop in the number of shoppers.
So what can be done?
The solution for Klang is actually pretty simple. Return Klang back to the way it was, with real, two-way streets. Improve the pedestrian environment and rebuild Klang town according to universal design principals as much as possible. Finally, build reliable, organized public transport that will bring people back to the town centre.
What about the cars?
Klang will still be a ‘drive-through’ town because of the lack of bridges across the river, as well as being on two major corridors. The Federal Highway-Kota Bridge flyover, once completed, will divert most of the ‘drive through’ traffic from the town area. Bus & taxi lanes, better public transport, and various enhancements to the pedestrian environment will help ensure that the only cars that will be in the town are people who are there to stop, shop and stay.