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The Money Rigging Transit (MRT) network that will derail public transport goals (Update #1)

The money-rigging and taxing (MRT) monsta. (The Star photo)

TRANSIT is very sad to hear the news that the MRT project will kick off in July next year, without a masterplan, without any studies on comparative transit options, without any form of endorsement from local communities, without scrutiny from unbiased public transport planners and experts, and without any note on not repeating the past mistakes with the LRT projects.

Construction work on RM36bil project set to start in July (The Star)

Sunday December 19, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, aimed at solving Greater KL/Klang Valley’s transportation woes, has been approved and will start rolling out in July. Its first line will be from Sungai Buloh to Kajang.

TRANSIT: Note that this “new” MRT is actually a variation of Prasarana’s recent proposal for an MRT/LRT from Sg. Buloh to Kajang via KL Sentral – the only way any project could be started as soon as the government hopes is to pick up on an older project.

Covering some 60km and 35 stations, this is the first of several MRT lines that will criss-cross the heart of the nation where some 10 million people are expected to live by 2020.

The first line will run through the city centre [TRANSIT: originally, the plan was to run via KL Sentral but this is likely to change] and integrate with the KTM Komuter, and the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT lines. It will serve some 1.2 million commuters and run through areas such as Kota Damansara, Mutiara Damansara, Bandar Utama, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Bukit Damansara, Cheras, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn and Balakong.

Calling it the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the country, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the project, estimated to cost some RM36bil, will be Government-owned and not privatised to any company.

  • Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd will own the MRT;
  • MMC-Gamuda JV Sdn Bhd will only manage the project as Project Delivery Partner;
  • A governance programme will monitor the project for cost and transparency; and
  • All contract work packages will be awarded through open tender.


We have to wonder why the government is so willing to spend 36bil for a mere 60km of rapid transit lines with MRT technology, when thousands of kilometers of rapid transit lines can be built using BRT or even ERT. Even Kuching and the Sarawak government cannot get RM200 million for their proposed, ready to go BRT system, and Kuching is the 4th largest city in Malaysia!

Since government will be expected to undertake this entire project, we wonder, why have the people and the people’s representatives been left out in the decision making process? Not to mention, why aren’t they protesting being left out?

Also, what happened to the needs of the Greater KL residents in suburban pockets outside of the alignment (with long journey via feeder buses to nearest stations), or shall we go wider on this: will the residents in Penang, Johor Bahru and Kuching will be happy to learn that their tax money will be utilized solely in Greater KL?

RM36b MRT project to be broken down to nine parcels for open tender (The Star)
Sunday December 19, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM36bil Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, the country’s largest ever infrastructure project, will belong to the Government to ensure that it is completed on time [TRANSIT: Shall we laugh at this point?]. It will also be built at the lowest possible cost by ensuring complete transparency throughout the project. [TRANSIT: take note, cost cutting is already being planned for, but you can expect that the project will go over costed estimates.]

In announcing that the Cabinet finally gave its approval on Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the project would not be privatised.

It would instead be owned by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd which already manages the city’s two Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines and the bus services for here and Penang.

The Cabinet also decided that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) would supervise the project, said Najib.

He said MMC-Gamuda JV Sdn Bhd was appointed as the Project Delivery Partner to manage the project but the company, its associates and subsidiaries would not be allowed to tender for any of the nine parcels of the project except for the tunnelling works.


Please enlighten us, to what extent can MMC-Gamuda JV be considered ‘unprotected’, when the entire MRT proposal was solicited by this private money-making entity instead of any public transit research body (say, MITRANS)? Tunnelling works will represent the biggest expensive chunk of this MRT proposal, as we know that underground infrastructure cost can easily pass half a billion ringgit per km.

Safe and shorter travelling time soon (The Star)
19 December 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The people living in the Greater KL/Klang Valley can look forward to less traffic jams as well as safer and shorter travelling time when the full Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system comes on line.

TRANSIT: We would like to be a bit more realistic and remind the public that there is a real possibility that the entire MRT system as proposed may not come on line.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the MRT project is expected to increase the use of public transport in the country from 12% in 2009 to 50% by 2020, with rail transport making up half of the public transport trips. [TRANSIT: And what about the rest of the country? Do they not deserve investment in public transport?]

By 2020, the MRT would serve 10 million people living in the area.

Road Safety Transport Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said the new rail network was an important development that would contribute to better safety for road users.

When passenger trips by public transport increase, there would be a corresponding decrease in passenger trips by private cars because people would travel by cars part of the journey or switch totally to public transport,” he said.

“When that happens, traffic congestion, accidents, pollution and energy consumption are likely to reduce,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

TRANSIT: Sorry Suret, but you are probably wrong here. It is unlikely that existing traffic levels will change that much with the MRT present, for a number of reasons.

  • The population of the Klang Valley will continue to grow and not all existing and future trips can/will be made by MRT or public transport;
  • increasing levels of population density planned for the greater Klang Valley will ensure that the number of vehicles on our roads will be steady
  • the MRT lines will likely replace some existing inner-city car trips but increase the number of higher-speed suburban car trips;
  • The MRT will do nothing about existing bottlenecks, choke-points and “black spots” on our roads, not to mention our horrendous traffic light timings – all of which contribute to huge levels of delays, congestion & pollution

“All these will contribute to safer mobility and a more efficient and convenient travelling experience,” he added. [TRANSIT: Will they, really?]


The government can’t just railroad the plan and claim that half of Greater KL folks will take public transport with the introduction of MRT! That failed to happen with the bailed out PUTRA, STAR and KL Monorail systems. We can’t force people to take the transit simply by putting stations based on alignments that simply connect the present residential and activity centers without taking into account existing and future trips, pedestrian permeability, journey time and efficiency.

The expected alignment which will result from building rail lines at the lowest possible cost to fit existing population patterns (rather than vice versa), can be straightforward impractical with tight corners, slow speed and plenty of stops.

Our urban population patterns in Greater KL are shaped more by car-oriented highways than the present railway tracks. Also, the expressways define the limits of residential areas. Finally, the existence of artificial (and natural) barriers to walking, will likely lead to incompatible networks of feeder buses and reduces potential MRT catchment.

TRANSIT would like finish our comments by quoting Jarrett Walker of the Human Transit blog:

public transit’s usefulness is determined by land use planning more than by transit planning.

You might also be interested in these comments from The Edge:

8 replies on “The Money Rigging Transit (MRT) network that will derail public transport goals (Update #1)”

It seems an early Xmas for MMC-Gamuda. I hate to hear this happening so soon!

Btw, Shah Alam not important to be included?!

What a government decision? Thank you TRANSIT!! 200 million MYR requested for ages and stillneed tobe under consideration, further studies while MRT of billion MYR means no further studies and will be kicked off next July? Who can we voice out the unfairness? Perhaps the required RM 200 million to develop BRT in Kuching will be used for MRT KL first before we can have it?

Dedicated to our beloved PM, YB Najib Tun Abdul Razak:


I am no 007 Agent
Neither am I as chasteful
To be known as just

So, I am reachable, PM Najib

If I am reached
I would want

A Halt Elections

If I am reached
I would want

A transformed hand
In your leadership
Other than you

If I am reached
I would want

Access to the
Defense Department

If I am reached
I would want

To meet
Your first wife
The Royal of Pahang
Before Puan Rosmah
So as not to complicate everyone again
As both have been
Your reachable souls

If you do not want
To reach me
My throat has gone dry
So as the country’s resources
So as the country’s hearts
To be so tired to say
PM, we love you

cc The Embassy of The PR of China, KL
The Embassy of The United States, KL
The Embassy of The Russian Federation, KL
YB PM Najib Tun Razak
YB Muyihiddin Yassin
YB Anwar Ibrahim

Change of Perceptions

I beg
The Chinese
To stop
The Malay Mind

Give them back
Their dignity
Give them back
Their unity

I beg you
To let Anwar
Go back to
His people
With loving arms

Malay cultures
Used to be so
Used to be so

After all
The Malay Civilzation
Has descendants blends of
Korean ancestorships
If you ever
Dig out historical facts

In defense of
The Malay Mind
Me, Kt Sam

Muyiddin is a delghit
Anwar is a wonder
Twinkle, twinkle
University Malaya

Actually after a visit to Kuching in last year, I discovered that Kuching is quite suitable for a tram system. Kuching less congested conditions and a tourist city cum state capital of Sarawak is really meant to be a city of tram.

Hi @Jeffrey

Thanks for your comment. We certainly agree that trams would be a wonderful addition to Kuching, which has a nice mix of scale (the south and Petra Jaya) and compactness (the Waterfront) that would showcase the flexibility of a tram system.

We believe that the best option would be trams along the major east-west corridors in Kuching south, with a link to Kuching North. In addition, a tramlink between the waterfront, Kuching Sentral and Kuching Airport (using the old Sarawak Government Railway right of way) would provide a much-needed connection between the waterfront and the two major transport hubs. This tramlink could also be extended further south to Bau, in the future.

Ironically, the original Sarawak Government Railway was a 13 mile long line that extended from the waterfront to Bau.

The problem is the lack of funding. The RM200 million that the Sarawak Government has requested (which was grudgingly approved) is only enough to build 2 bus rapid transit lines of medium distance (10km).

We believe that RM1billion would be enough to give Kuching a world class Light-rail system and enhanced bus system. And we hope that the Malaysian government realizes this, especially considering the upcoming Sarawak General Elections.

Regards, moaz for TRANSIT

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