In this post, TRANSIT will strive to analyze, to the best of our ability, the MRT proposal under the Economic Transformation Programme. We also hope to provide information to and obtain feedback from the public on the nature of the MRT proposal, its scope and chance of success as well as suggestions to make the proposal more likely to succeed in providing improve public transport for the benefit of public transport users first and foremost!
Look for further details coming soon!
- Seven projects under ETP to triple nation’s income
- Study on MRT to be completed early October (Business Times) – the “study” of the MRT proposal by MMC-Gamuda, undertaken by SPAD and Minconsult is to be completed by October.
- Siemens eyes MRT, high-speed rail jobs
- The KL MRT – where will the funds come from? (The Star)
- Construction, property sectors will benefit (The Star)
The Star newspaper on Saturday has a pretty wide coverage on the Gamuda’s and MMC’s MRT Proposal as part of the projects identified under National Key Result Area (NKEA) Lab’s findings for Greater Kuala Lumpur.
Interestingly, the remaining 34% (of RM172bil ETP package) for Greater KL will come from public funding and will be largely devoted to the MRT and high-speed rail systems. “Almost 90% (of public funding) or about RM50bil over the next 10 years, will go to these two priority EPPs,” says Jala. No wonder then analysts are bullish about the two companies that had proposed the MRT project to the Government earlier this year, namely Gamuda Bhd and MMC Corp Bhd.
Why do unsolicited proposals have to always come from companies with direct interest in the proposals. Have the proposals gone through thorough proper scrutiny by existing academic (UiTM’s MITRANS) and regulatory institutions (SPAD, Selangor state government, local authorities) together with consultation with the communities (residents association, consumer groups etc) before PEMANDU can say they are confident enough that this MRT proposal will leap Greater KL to a high income city?
How can our public institutions be squared in and pushed around the corners by the private sector when the real interest belongs to the wider general public?
However, Jala spells out clearly that the ETP is not necessarily an endorsement of that proposal. He says it could take another form as long as it achieves the targets of connectivity and cost efficiency, among others.
PEMANDU has a duty to concentrate first on the end product rather than on means to achieve it. The problem is congestion in Greater Kuala Lumpur is creating an economic gridlock that will halt the vision for a high-income city and high-income nation. The MRT (mass rail transit, not mass rapid transit) is definitely not the solution when other mass rapid transit solutions have been shown to be cheap, easily implemented and yet very effective in both facilitating greater commuting flow and making the urban landscape and behavior livelier and inclusive to all.
He says that projects will be awarded in a transparent manner. “When new projects are proposed, the Government will facilitate dialogue between relevant parties and ensure key processes, such as project tendering, are executed in a fair and transparent manner.”
“Sometimes restricted tenders can be better (than open tender) but we must know the benchmarks under those conditions – we need tremendous amount of data and international costing for this. Once you know that, you can negotiate down the contract. In an open tender, there is a tendency to overprice by all of the participants but it still remains a very important route (for getting reasonable prices),” he says.
Yes, Datuk, you’re spot on. The lab definitely needs studies and research to justify the need for MRT. The previous SMURT-KL study in 1999 took more than 2 years and nothing concrete came out of it. How can we expect the recent 3-month feasibility study on MRT to be comparable? We do not even know the terms of reference for the feasibility study, nor do we have any evidence that the results will be made public in a complete and timely manner!
Making Greater KL the nation’s heartbeat (Property analyst and map maker) Ho (Chin Soon) says there are two sensitive areas at stake here. There will be more as the journey for transformation goes along. The first involves public transport. “Although we have some form of public transport before and the money to make it a reality, we did not proceed [in order] to ensure the survival of our car industry. That is why our public transport ridership is a mere 10% compared with Hong Kong’s 90%, and Singapore’s 80% to 85%.” Ho says the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) system is more than just connectivity. Studies done have shown that if there is an MRT under an apartment block or mall, their rental improves by a quarter or a fifth, at least.
Why MRT? Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s purchasing power per capita is several fold higher, and they are highly dense city-states (i.e. among few cities with zero transit operation subsidy) with effective policies against ownership of private vehicles (as available mass rapid transit satisfies whatever mobility needs that arise from the city-states’ sociocultural dynamics).
More importantly, their population density patterns and urban land use planning have been integrated with public transport when the city was first build from the ground up. Ours are dominated by expressways and cul-de-sac real estate developments. Certain aspects of our lives center on suburban and even extrarural activities which require conveniences that can only be offered by private transport (farm visits, balik kampung escapades, hypermarket shopping). With the MRT being the highest ever infrastructure undertaking, do we expect the users to pay roughly RM10 transit fare, or the people surrounding the stations will want to bear the cost, or do we expect the burden to be shared equally to every single Malaysian?
An integrated transport system with the MRT as its main spine will help to raise property prices and connects the pockets of new development that the Government has announced in the last few months with the existing established areas, Ho adds. These includes the redevelopment of the 380-acre Kampung Baru, the 80-acre Islamic financial hub at the Dataran Perdana in the Imbi area, the mixed development on 460 acres at the Sg Besi old airport, the Matrade piece of land in Jalan Duta, and the redevelopment of the 22-acre former Pudu Prison site among others. The objective is to more than double the commercial content of KL. “This will take some time for the market to absorb,” he cautions.
The proposed MRT can’t be effective as the “mobility backbone” of Greater Kuala Lumpur as promised simply because other modes of mass rapid transit are more efficient and effective in making use of the established mobility infrastructure and support systems. Without a single, proper masterplan, control and sustainable transit funding policies, mass transit and land use in Greater Kuala Lumpur can never be really integrated, just as development around Kg Baru LRT station has been as stagnant as prior to the PUTRA LRT construction.