PEMANDU scraps HSR for “1Malaysia High Speed Bus Plan”. OMG!

TRANSIT has learned over a disturbing news over the grapevine today, where an unnamed source from PEMANDU has leaked a meeting note from the recent ETP implementation meeting that the High Speed Rail plan to connect Singapore and downtown Kuala Lumpur has been scrapped for a new 1Malaysia High Speed Bus Plan (1HSB)!

The source said that the MRT project has been identified as risky enough to burst a big hole in the government’s pocket, and thus the High Speed Bus system is the only way the present administration can fulfill its GTP and ETP agenda on increasing commuting convenience between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, without jeopardizing the nation’s long term budget. PEMANDU, the source said, was advised by its appointed consultant to position to the media the dramatic transit technological downgrade as a prudent ‘transformative’ plan for a fast-moving Malaysia.

The chief of PEMANDU, who was earlier taken aback by the initial presentation by the 1HSB recommendation panel that jumped him straight from the driver’s seat into the passenger’s seat, was reported to shrug off any flak it might receive due to the earlier excitement over maglev and other eye-popping high speed rail technologies. A joint committee member from the Board of the nation’s High Speed Broadband provider was told to lobby the panel on the ‘HSB’ naming and ‘blue-hippo’ look, which can be seen by market observers as a timely measure to prop up the provider’s ‘snail-paced’ image.

The same source said that Najib was reported to be unhappy with the news, until the chief of PEMANDU briefed him on similar implementation by the government of the United States as a fool-proof measure to cut its ballooning deficit. President Obama’s proposed highspeed train system will be replaced with a fleet of buses that will rocket along highways at speeds up to 165 mph (please refer to the following news clip below from a news source Americans voted to be the most trusted).

The source also said staff from KTB together with a representative from Hasbro Toy of Japan had to be dispatched to assure the First Lady that the positioning of buses rather than trains, appeal to younger voters (with the 1HSB’s proposed ‘OptiBus Prime’ paired with ‘Government Transportmation Program‘ ads) as much as the working class (who are more likely to endorse the premier over his repetitious utterances of the “Transformation” phrase as shown in the latest Merdeka Poll).

Some members within the closely-knit PEMANDU team have privately expressed their horror over learning that the gargantuan MRT project will take 500 years to be paid off (which can be cut in half if the 1HSB revenue is channeled to MRT) based on its appointed consultant’s modelling variables on capital expenditure breakeven projection based on the present LRT and monorail systems’ sole revenues of puny fare box rate and aggressive bombardments of advertising materials. The model also predicts that by 2027, it is estimated that the prices of the mega-land-sprawl  in Greater Kuala Lumpur will be so unreachable even to expats, and its atmosphere clouded with thick smog and smoke that the citizens of Kuala Lumpur will find it cheaper and healthier to either live on trees on the Titiwangsa mountain range, or work in KL and live in Singapore, where low child-birth and high suicide rates should have cut the city-state population by half.

More images after the jump.

The Chairman of Kenderaan Transnasional Berhad (KTB) is believed to be the high profile individual behind the push for the High Speed Bus, since proposals for buses to be the most frequented commuting mode for both urban and intercity travel have mostly fallen into deaf ears in the past few years (remember how KTB lobbied hard champion its expertise in managing the biggest bus consortium in Malaysia in its bid to take over bus operations from Park May and Intrakota, before the sole appointment of RapidKL and purchase of China-made Scomi buses).

Will the 1Malaysia High Speed Bus look like this? (Undisclosed fan of KTB)

TRANSIT Says: When urban rapid transit is perfectly A-OK to be served by buses (through BRT technology and infrastructural accommodation), the government chooses to opt for the terribly expensive MRT. When intercity high speed transit is typically served by rail technology, the government chooses to opt for dirt cheap express buses!

We know that such project has been revived by the Obama administration after acknowledging the huge budget deficit that would result if high speed rail project is instead given the green light. We wonder whether there are still rooms available for expansion of the North South Expressway, and how MIROS will react towards this proposal.

The European Union is already mandating bus companies to ensure their present long distance intercity buses will pass the highly rigorous testing that make the buses suitable for High Speed Bus upgrade. (Courtesy of EU Research Unit for High Speed Bus)
Image a reader sent to us on the blurry ‘Barney-the-Hippo-looking-bus’ image of a 1Malaysia High Speed Bus, from a leaked source that is closely related to the Chairman of KTB. (Confidential Source)
The first ever High Speed Bus project implemented to connect New York and Boston in the late 70s failed due to the unsophisticated jet technology which true potential has yet to be fully reaped back then. (State of New York's Department of Transport Archive)

Wink. Happy April 1 !!!

30 replies on “PEMANDU scraps HSR for “1Malaysia High Speed Bus Plan”. OMG!”

What about HSB connecting major towns from Bangkok to Singapore? Solve Raya jams once and for all!

Not bad! I heard that some of these buses would have women’s-only coaches, or the High Speed Babe Buses (HSBB).

Stick to high speed trail train, our Malaysian cars will never abide the High Speed Bus lane ruling, 100%, it’s only a matter a of time that more accidents will happen, didn’t we get enough accidents from bus already?? Nobody ever learn the painful, tragic and costly lessons of bus accidents???

This is called Kroni ,Kontrator didahululan, Rakyat diketepikan!
instead of Rakyat didahulukan, pencaipan diutamakan!
sheer nonsens! cakap tak serupa bikin!

BRT whtihn the city will do! it is 30 times cheaper!
Inter City such as Kl to Singapore may be an eletric train with 180 Km speed will do! no need bullet train. bullet train only benefit Kroni.

so long as they sont use Rakyat’s money or there is a guarantee no bail out and gving of land to kroni, who cares? go ahead and built, but we want electrinc with 180 Km to Singapore will do, in Kl City, do BRT first !

To be honest, I don’t think the KL-Singapore HSR project is a feasible or sound investment.. we will struggle to get enough daily passenger to coup the investment

Can you trust Malaysians drivers on bus after so many tragic and deadly accidents?? No phobia at all?? The life of humans don’t worth as much as these money??Azmi, sooner or later we need the high speed train, if we don’t build it now, the cost will be higher in the future especially population in Klang Valley reached 12 million by 2020 and the population of Singapore reached 7 million by 2020. Still never learn your lessons about our local bus accident records???

@ Jeffrey

I shared that concern foremost. Need to educate public to boycott bus companies that have taken any life!

Last year, I frequent went to Peneng & Alor Staq (twice a mth) by bus and out of those many buses, only 2 companies (Transnasional & MaraLiner) exhibit peace-of-mind, superb consistency, perfect discipline & great attitude. And it does not come from anything else other than good (overall) management and leadership.

It seem new technology, law, gomen, enforcement & hi-profile ambush still fail to eliminate this recurrence. The last but slow way is to kill those mismanage bus companies slowly by public refusal before they kill more life. Corruption, nepotism are one thing but MISMANAGEMENT is the another evil.

Singapore’s luxury shuttle / liner bus safety std is as good as it is. 100% no accident record right? driven by the influence of singapore’s strict law and culture.

As for KL-Singapore HST, this mammoth project is sandwiched by two red elephant – Air Asia/MAS for high-speed business travelers (~RM200/trip) and KTM/luxury buses (RM80/trip) for cheap & honeymoon travelers. So where does it fit when there already so many business model & players in this small pie ? Unlike europe, japan and china, they are very big pie linking many city and towns of more than 5mils population in each city.

Taking from business and investor point of view, it is risky but if gomen has excess money (i.e by selling many federal/state land), and not burdening people and future generation with additional taxes, inflation and cost of living, than just go ahead. Make it a 100% public expenditure project. Alternatively, cash-rich company like YTL can just roll the money for this iconic 1st in Malaysia project (ops sorry ERL, your speed is too slow for the modern HSR definition).

HI @Azmi

It is interesting that you mentioned that MARALiner and Transnasional are the “best” companies in terms of service quality. Both companies are government-linked companies which shows what happens when you do not have “entrepreneurial operators” (pawns, really) driving the buses.

Which is not to say that Transnasional and MARALiner have perfect safety records – they don’t actually. However, better treatment of drivers as employees does certainly make a difference.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT


Believe me, many businessman and people who can afford the money really won’t mind to pay RM200 per trip FOR HSR service between Malaysia and Singapore and the market s big. The reason is simple, HSR station bound to be in the middle in the city, more convenient than KLIA, secondly, you don’t have to arrive 2 hours before departure like air flight, for many businessmen even average people TIME IS MONEY. They might be able to clinch a deal or do a lot of things in two hours rather than wasting time to wait at the airport and this haven’t include their time to travel from KL to KLIA in Sepang.


You make a good point that there is potential for the market.

But Azmi also makes a good point that there is no opportunity for economics of scale here. This will be a high speed rail line, not a high-speed rail network.

That means were are more likely to face a situation similar to Taiwan, where the HSR provides a multi-stop rail alternative to the highways as well as limited-stop express services catering to the business & long-distance travelers.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT


But remember the population of Klang Valley might reached 12 million by 2020 and the population of Singapore might reached 7 million at the same time.


Yes, the population will certainly be larger but that does not mean the market for an express train trip between KL-Singapore will be any larger.

Remember, we are talking about one corridor – Singapore – KL – Butterworth. The only way for train service to be successful on a single corridor is to market itself as a fast, reasonable alternative to the car (comfortable, you can work, less stress, etc) and have multiple stops at major cities & towns (which takes away some of the speed advantage).

The success of the HSR will not ride (pardon the pun) on popularity of the KL-Singapore trip, but rather the Seremban-Singapore trip, or the Muar-Ipoh trip, or the Melaka – Butterworth trip (we can see the current Penang CM Lim Guan Eng taking that train).

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

@ Jeffrey

Yes, I agreed. HST/R offer less bureaucracy, convenient access/end-stop, business-class interior, extraordinary window views, shorter journey time (>300km/h) and many more benefits, over planes. It would be better, as Moaz suggestion to have a stop, in Melaka, specifically. In Johor, I don’t see other towns along the alignment (Batu Pahat, Muar,etc) for such this service. With HST, surely, one day, Fernandez and MAS is force to withdraw (at least reduce) their singapore cater.

@ Moaz

Transnasional & Maraliner is government link? You mean they have shares, like Proton? Normally private services excel over government, but this case is unique.

And thanks for clarify and simply on my missing keywords ‘economies-of-scale’ & ‘line’ over ‘network’ self-explanatory. Weighting the pros and cons over the argument, is hard to tell now for sure whether the seat loading will
1) break-even the cost of overhead/variable costs [wear&tear/maintenance (low for the first few yrs), all salary (from CEO, qualified train driver, ticketing staffs to stewardess), electricity (a lot), rolling stock depreciation (highest here),
2) recoup this huge investment in what years? (yearly total ticket sales minus yearly item 1 than divide by RM xx billion total investment = xx yrs). Anything less than 10 yrs – MUST proceed, 10-20 yrs – Garu kepala, 20-30 Better not, >40yrs Suicide. He3


Transnasional is a ‘private’ company but the government owns shares in the holding company Konsortium Transnasional Berhad – KTB – (through Kazanah & PMB, I believe – but don’t quote me on that just yet.). And MARALiner is owned by MARA (Majlis Amanah Rakyat)

You can see the corporate structure for KTB here. It is extremely complicated but shows a vast network of companies. If you take a look at their Board of Directors, you will also see a very familiar face, Nadzmi Salleh, who is part of Proton, ERL, and the Badminton Association of Malaysia.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

Oh. Moaz reply faster than me with his new points.
Ok, I’m back to work. New burn-out is expected. Until the next time, have a good time.

Three major reasons why we have to build HSR Kuala Lumpur-Singapore now:
1. The rise of construction cost in the future, cement, steel, land acquisitions, even copper and gold found in many electronic components will increased incredibly in prices.

2. In the future, lands will be harder to come by, city and even countryside will become much more crowded, acquiring land will become much much more complicated and difficult.

3. If we build now, it is just in time to catch up the massive population increased of the country because estimation of 10-12 million in Klang Valley by 2020. Besides, it takes years to build it, it won’t happen overnight.

The reason they want to build the HSR line completely new and at new locations like Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat etc simply because these places don’t have any railway services yet. It’s fair for other areas of the country benefits some rail developments. It cannot be the same old places and lines.

If Japan, UK or many European countries only insist to build/expand/upgrade rail lines according to those few old routes and lines only. Today their rail lines network won’t be so well covered, comprehensive and convenient.

Hi @Jeffrey

Good points, all – except that none of them address the main question – is there a need for a 300-over km/h (possibly magnetic levitation) rail service that stops in KL and Singapore only – because that is what the media & the government have been leading the public to believe can/will be built.

Electric rail serving new communities is certainly a great idea! But we have to ask, “realistically, how fast does a service that is going to stop at multiple communities need to be?” Because the faster we make the train, the higher the engineering costs and financial costs are going to be.

To give you an example, the electrification and double tracking of the existing KTM railway is going to see a 50% increase in speed and a 10x increase in train services – that is a massive result from a relatively small investment. Would an investment in HSR see those kind of results?

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

As far as I know, the high speed rail services KL-Singapore can be divided into two major services. The train that will stop in all major towns and the route and the express type that only stop between Kuala Lumpur, Singapore.

As far as I know, the high speed rail services KL-Singapore can be divided into two major services. The train that will stop in all major towns along the route and the express type that only stop between Kuala Lumpur, Singapore.

I’d rather have no BRT or HSR service at all. Even if the high speed bus has its own dedicated lane, believe me, I still don’t trust THOSE USELESS AND RISKY bus drivers. Besides a lot of other motorists will also abused and use the bus lane if they have the chance to do so. No HSR, No BRT.

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