Mass Transit (LRT/MRT/METRO) Uncategorized

We visited the Putrajaya Line. Here’s what we think

Last Thursday (9 June 2022), TRANSIT was invited by MRT Corp for an exclusive preview of the MRT Putrajaya line. We were brought around the stations, and a trip on the train itself.

Phase 1 of the line opens tomorrow. Here’s what to know and expect, and what we think.

What we know and think:

13 stations will begin operating tomorrow, including 3 connected respectively to KTM and Kajang MRT line, as shown in this infographic by MRT Corp below:

Credit: MRT Corp

Peak hour frequency for P’jaya line: 4-6 minutes, lower than the advertised 2-minutes. This unfortunate and concerning. We were told that this was to minimise operational costs, but we’ve seen how these low frequencies have congested MRT & LRT stations.

Despite the cost-cutting, most of us were pretty okay with the station design.

What were the cost-cutting measures? Small parts are the zinc roofs, paint scheme, noticeably less marble, etc.

But the interior felt spacious. The platforms are way more protected from the elements. The industrial looks look better in-person.

Credit: Aziff Azuddin/@aziff90 on Instagram
Credit: Aziff Azuddin/@aziff90 on Instagram
Credit: Nabil Ersyad/@nabilersyad on Twitter

Plus, turnstiles open faster than the MRT1 stations:

What we didn’t like though? Boxy plastic benches are used in place of metal benches with armrests.. and funky bicycle facilities that don’t look practical.

Despite those, we felt that the new station designs are even better than the Kajang line.

Cred: Fazley Fadzil/@fazleyff on Twitter
Cred: Nabil Ersyad/@nabilersyad on Twitter

Interchanges: MRT stations are way less integrated with other train lines (excluding with MRT Kajang line).

Kg Batu was supposed to have a shared concourse with the KTM station. Wasn’t built due to cost-cutting. Instead, only a ground level walkway connects them.

Same could be said about Sri Damansara Timur. Why wasn’t it named Kepong Sentral, the KTM station it connects to – we don’t know. Anyways, in the notes of the modified station layout (highlighted) as shown below, it mentions that the shared concourse between the MRT and KTM will be deferred.

Station layout for the Sri Damansara Timur MRT station. In the layout you can see that the previous integrated concourse is mentioned to have been deferred. Credits: MRT Corp

How does this affect commuters? Narrow pedestrian walkways at the KTM interchanges might slow down commuters, especially during peak hours.

Station layout for the Ampang Park MRT station. In the layout you can see that the previous tunnel to the LRT station has been deferred. Credits: MRT Corp

In Phase 2 there’ll be a worse case: the MRT Ampang Park station won’t have a tunnel leading to the LRT station, delayed for the future. In the meantime, commuters have to leave the faregates, go up, walk, go down, then enter faregates. Saving money should not be at the expense of commute times & basic convenience!

Okay, back to our Phase 1 visit.

Feeder buses: 28 new buses for Phase 1 stations; we didn’t see them at the visit. We’re unsure of the frequency at the time of writing.

We were also informed that old RapidKL buses branded under MRT will be used for Phase 2 stations, as the government plans on buying electric buses in the future.

Parking: 7 Park n’ Ride facilities, 2,836 spots. Might seem good to those that need to drive to the station, but just like what we’ve seen at Park n’ Rides on the Kajang line, they’ll most likely quickly fill up, ending up with cars parked on the sides, congesting the area around.

Now on car-centricness, what we’ve seen from satellite images, the road widenings and isolated-style development could cause the area around to be hostile to pedestrians. We’ve yet to assess walkability around the new MRT2 stations, but it doesn’t seem good.

Cycling parking is also dismal. We suggest MRT Corp & local governments should look at Singapore’s MRT stations, where they’ve added stacked parking for cycling and good integration with the neighbourhood’s mobility infra.

The goals should be to create induced demand for walking and cycling that’ll actually encourage sustainable mobility, and not for cars.

What can we conclude from this?

1. There hasn’t been much change from the isolated, car-centric style of development as seen with the MRT1. MRT3 must not replicate this style again, and must radical in encouraging walkability and better integration with neighborhoods.

2. Cost-cutting did not impact the user-friendliness of the station’s exterior (nor added that much), but with the removal of integration with other lines as seen at Kg Batu, this adds to the inconvenience.

Cost-cutting should NOT affect basic convenience for commuters.

We support ditching ultra-swankiness the BN govt did hat ballooned costs, but the PH govt had overdone it by cutting basic infrastructure that can potentially affect journey times & comfort. The 4-6 minute frequencies, lower than the possible 2-minutes, are also disappointing.

3. While we’ve seen the line, we’ve yet to see how MRT2 will be maintained & operated.

We’ve seen the water leaks, inoperable lifts, dirty toilets, etc from MRT1. We hope the MRT2 will not repeat this; lessons should already be learnt. Time will tell, and we’ll monitor this.

Thanks again to @MRTMalaysia for bringing us around, especially En Leong Shen-Li, gen manager of Strategic Comms and En Noor Saidi Muda, director for Elevated Construction of P’jaya Line.

We thank & appreciate all the workers who have made this line possible. To conclude, we interviewed En. Shen-Li on what he felt about the line opening:

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