- Updated with more letters!
- See the latest letter from Sulaiman Hood of TTDI here!
- See the response from the Pro-Tem Committee set up by the TTDI Resident’s Association at this posting!
- Updated with more letters and articles!
- Updates with a good letter from Sulaiman Hood of TTDI!
TRANSIT had been following the MRT project proposals for a long time.
We were there when the MRT was actually an LRT, and only from Kota Damansara to Cheras. We took note when Prasarana proposed the extensions to Sg. Buloh and Kajang, and cheered when we first heard that the line would be built to MRT capacity (though the actual details about the trains was unclear).
Click here for a larger version of the image above.
When Prime Minister Najib recently commented (in December 2010) that the MRT would (should) start construction in July 2011, we were concerned because all the “can do” talk about getting the MRT project underway seemed like it was glossing over some very important facts like:
- The railways act requires a 3 month public display for any railways scheme;
- The support of the public for government projects was not assured, and;
- Back in September 2009, the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT line extensions were projected to start in April 2010, but to date construction has not really started yet
Now, some people think that we at TRANSIT are overly critical. To be frank, we are critical, but not unfairly so. We are critical because we want to ask tough questions, to ensure that our public transport system can stand up to all the challenges that it can and will face.
We are critical because we are realistic and because we want the best public transport system, not just one that “gets by”.
So imagine our interest when we learned that the Land Public Transport Commission was holding “briefings” with the public and the business communities in Petaling Jaya – well before the anticipated start of the 3 month public display (which has been projected to begin in March 2011 and finish at the end of May 2011).
Now, we do have to wonder why the Land Public Transport Commission would hold separate briefings for the public and the business communities – our view is that everyone should come together and express their concerns in the same forum (actually, in repeated forums held in the same area).
Not only does it save time, it ensures that all stakeholders are aware of the issues, comments and concerns that they all have.
What is highly interesting is that the business community appears to be in favour of the MRT line, while the Residents’ Association of TTDI expressed their concerns and suggested that they would be okay if the line bypassed them (assuming it could not be built underground).
What has been learned from the briefing with business leaders so far is that:
- Business leaders want the MRT stations to be located close to the centre of commercial activity, in some cases where they have projects or plan to build one;
- A source from property developer See Hoy Chan Bhd. (Damansara Uptown) said the company is “willing to ‘adopt’ a station” – presumably, to have a station in Damansara Uptown (which may be bypassed by the current proposal);
- See Hoy Chan Holdings (Bandar Utama) The source also said that there would be strong support for putting the line underground from Kota Damansara to Bandar Utama station;
- See Hoy Chan Holdings is willing to offer the Bandar Utama Central Park site for an underground station; TRANSIT: The site is ‘centrally’ located and has an underground link to 1Utama (with lots of nearby parking) but having the station underground would depend on the route!
- The owners of See Hoy Chan Bhd. and See Hoy Chan Holdings are cousins; TRANSIT: It’s not public transport related but it is certainly interesting!
- Ngian Siew Siong, Managing Director of Property Development of Sunway City Berhad, (and also Sunway Damansara resident association representative) appealed to Land Public Transport Commission (LPTC) to have the line go underground in the Kota Damansara area.
From the resident’s briefing (in TTDI) we learned that:
- residents living near or adjacent to the proposed lines have voiced objection against the MRT tracks being built above ground and want the lines and stations to be underground so as to avoid congestion and noise pollution issues.
- The spokesperson from the TTDI Residents’ Association says they are okay to have the MRT bypass their area if it cannot be underground;
- In response, Sulaiman Hood writes that the majority of TTDI residents want the MRT; TRANSIT: See the full text of the letter at the end of this post!
- A RA representative from Sunway Damansara said the landscape of some areas including Persiaran Surian would be affected by the sheer size of the pillars and the elevated track and that the noise would be unbearable; TRANSIT: as compared to merely annoying” for the LRT.
Questions that were asked by TRANSIT’s representative included:
- Coordination of various transportation operators. Cited transportation model around the world; that public transport is operated by a Public Transport Body; giving Melbourne as an example. SPAD had only indicated that there will be a “common ticketing system”.
- Suggest SPAD to look into the connectivity, scheduling and pricing of the whole system after they responded that they will have a “common ticketing system”.
To ensure that disable facilities are there as only one service lift is available. What happened if the service is out of order? SPAD responded that there will be a station staff to assist.
- Queries about the amount of 0.2 mil cars will be taken off the road per day when this line is in operation. How they derived to this figure, Mr. Gurmit (Singh of CETDEM) also wished to know how they calculated the figure? SPAD & ERE (Consultant) will get back to TRANSIT on how the figure is derived.
- Since the alignment of the line will be placed right on LDP (Bandar Utama) and Sprint Link (all the way to Duta) will there be any guideline to ensure that it is not pasted with advertisements that can distract drivers such as the once in Jalan Sultan Ismail. SPAD responded that advertising will be one of the revenue stream to ensure the sustainability of the project (not in verbatim). However, will comply with all local authority guidelines (on billboards adverts).
Issues raised by others:
- What energy efficiency study had been done for this MRT and the data?
- JPS asked SPAD to focus on the rivers – SPAD responded that there will be no construction directly on the river.
- Traffic & Parking – to allocate ample parking; unlike present system where only the last station have parking facilities.
- Gurmit (Singh, of CETDEM) raised whether the MRT allows Bicycle usage during peak hours.
- Noise level – maintenance to avoid squeaking sound such as the ones
from LRT in PJ.
Technical information that we learned includes:
- the MRT would have 50% more carrying capacity than the LRT line and will also be 50% wider. One car train carrying capacity is equivalent to three buses, or that of 177 cars. TRANSIT: Actually, we aren’t really sure what that set of sentences means. Can anyone make sense of it? Are they saying that MRT trains would be wider than LRT and each carriage can carry 180+ people
- A public transport ‘specialist’ was quoted as saying “Let us learn from the mistakes of the Light Rail Transit and the Star line.”; TRANSIT: Ok, it is not technical but it is very important!
Our concerns about the MRT project continue to be strong, but we can say that we are glad to have the public briefing and look forward to more discussion and feedback.
Based on the results of the current discussion, it seems pretty clear that there is a desire for the LRT to be underground along Persiaran Surian in Kota Damansara and within Bandar Utama. While the it is unlikely that the MRT will be underground in the “newer” parts of Kota Damansara, it might be possible in the area east of the NKVE.
The proposal from See Hoy Chan Holdings for a station under Central Park in Bandar Utama is an interesting one. It would be possible to build in this manner if a tunnel is constructed under Persiaran Surian, and there is an existing bus terminal and parking lot north of Central Park. However, if the line is underground under Central Park it would have to continue underground under the LDP and through TTDI – unless See Hoy Chan Holdings was willing to give up their land just south of Sri Pentas (TV3, NTV7, 8TV, and TV9) to allow for the tunnel’s entry/exit portal. If that were possible, the MRT could be built above the LDP and Sprint Highway, which would allow for a station at Tropicana/Damansara Utama without disturbing the TTDI residents.
Another alternative would be to use the parking lot space to the north of 1Utama for the MRT guideway and station – it would certainly be interesting to see if golfers at the Bandar Utama driving range would use the MRT as a target. However, we can imagine that this alignment would not be popular with TTDI residents (although it might be popular with golfers).
We will provide additional feedback and we are looking to discuss with SPAD about the possible alignments for the MRT based on communities that want to be served.
One last note: we have seen public transport projects amortized (meaning that the payment period is spread out) over periods of 50 and 100 years – but our basic calculations are showing that it will take more than 150 years to pay of the MRT – perhaps 200 years if there are any cost overruns (as we anticipate there will be).
Majority of TTDI residents supportive of MRT project (The Star)
18 January 2011
I REFER to “Residents are against MRT project” (Sunday Star, Jan 16). I was at that dialogue organised by Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Darat Awam (SPAD) not only for residents of Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) but also of Kota Damansara, Sg Buloh and Bandar Utama.
A handful of people loudly objected to the project while the rest were supportive, but want the project to be planned thoroughly to avoid past mistakes.
A resident of TTDI for the past 12 years, I use public transport to go to work every day. Although I own a car, it is too expensive for me to drive everyday, and I also do not want to contribute to the traffic congestion.
I suffer daily on the buses, which are never regular, and endure the slow journey to Kuala Lumpur on the congested LDP and Jalan Damansara.
It takes me more than an hour to reach my office in the morning and more than 90 minutes to get home in the evening.
By the time I am home, I am simply too tired to do anything, much less spend quality time with my family. So when the Government announced the MRT project, I was very happy that I may finally be able to commute to work easily and have more time with my family.
Many people in TTDI want good public transport and want the MRT to go near their areas. A few rich and selfish people are objecting because they can afford to drive and are worried for their properties.
The Government should not ignore the large majority who want the MRT project. I hope Spad will listen to the silent majority.
Again, the majority of the public and members of TRANSIT support public transport improvements and give guarded support to the MRT project – but are not 100% happy with the way it was introduced and may be pushed through over the reasonable objections of members of the public.
The other factor that must be considered is that the MRT will improve things tomorrow, but what about today? Sulaiman writes that he suffers daily (presumably for the 12 years in which he has lived in TTDI). Must he be forced to suffer for another 5 years while the MRT is constructed?
Does the government seriously believe that ‘hope’ is enough to ease the suffering that he and so many other public transport users are dealing with?
We at TRANSIT wonder why the government would put ‘hope for a better tomorrow’ as the foremost of their solutions for public transport – rather than ‘action to improve the buses today’
Additional Feedback on the MRT project:
- Progress yes, but not at people’s expense (The Star, 17 February 2011);
- TTDI residents can take only so much (The Star, 14 February 2011) – “Longtime Resident” replies to the letter from Sulaiman Hood
- Taman Tun Residents Need an MRT (The Star, 11 February 2011) – Sulaiman Hood writes another letter supporting his belief that the MRT is needed;
- Letter: We want project to be on [the] right track (TTDI-RA, 25 January 2011) – Comments from a member of the TTDI Residents’ Association’s Pro-Tem Committee to discuss the MRT on the newspaper articles & letters which suggested the residents are against the MRT.
- Article: Can the MRT address the long-term transport problem? (Star Property, 22 January 2011) – Questions abound whether the MRT project will solve the long term transport problems for the Klang Valley. TRANSIT: We will be commenting on this article, watch this space for the link.
- MRT to serve 1.2 million people (Star Biz, 21 January 2011) – The MRT is expected to service 442,000 passengers daily in a catchment area of 1.2 million people; TRANSIT: what a headline – the line will serve 1.2 million but carry 440,000 passengers, less than 1/3 of the 1.2 million advertised.
- Letter: KL sorely needs an effective MRT system (The Star, 21 January 2011) – Dr. Ahmad Mustafa Karim comments on the advantages of investing in an MRT system in the Klang Valley.
- Article: Seeking common stand on MRT (The Star, 21 January 2011) – Residents Associations in Bandar Utama and TTDI are looking to share ideas and give feedback at future dialogues on the MRT project
- Letter: Not good to stay too close to MRT station (The Star, 19 January 2011);
- Article: Consider MRT advantages, residents told (The Star, 19 January 2011);