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Limited loading fair for fare-deprived RapidKL?

Rapid Rail was rapped by the Home Minister for its (now reversed) announcement of physical distancing relaxation on its trains, with the minister quoted saying “we understand their concerns” that “less passenger capacity” due to the measure translates to less revenue for every cost unit incurred.

The real irony behind this is his use of the pronoun “we” and “their” as if the money-losing state-owned Prasarana (parent of Rapid Bus and Rapid Rail) have always acted as a for-profit entity (duh!).

Another twist is how MoT’s own SOP is inconsistent with the Home Ministry’s ‘guideline’. What kind of research that has been done to support such divergent recommendations? Any empirical evidence on what level of transit service would likely be needed to fulfill the less-than-desired passenger load (in our case, 34% as quoted)? At what per cent of regular pre-MCO capacity would our government-funded operators need to prepare during RMCO to achieve what per cent of pre-MCO ridership (which depends on what per cent of pre-MCO commuters that can make do with telecommute)? What is the plan to provide even more frequent bus and train services when passengers are likely to be barred from entering vehicles that surpass one-third capacity threshold?

Consider the below photo-op on peeling of physical distancing sticker in Singapore, which has recently ended its circuit breaker move.

By failing to plan, the government is planning to fail, and this is clearly shown by this truly utter lack of coordination, as there is no excuse for transit users to end up absorbing that slack in shoddy RMCO preparation.

And on a more important note, when it comes to public transport, our publicly-subsidised RapidKL is the face of our government. It is easier for our political bureaucrats to relegate the blame of inconsistent policy directives to working technocrats than to take the blame of the lack of political will to fix the urban public transport operational spending and capital funding, which has never been sustainable even pre-MCO.

Enough sweeping the problem under the carpet. RapidKL is not owned by some local towkey or overseas investors, it is owned by all of us. Its accumulating financial deficits from years of care-free spending will eat up into long-term, inter-generational resources that would better be channeled towards other meaningful things like healthcare, education and social welfare. Worse, its ability to catch up on revenues are stunted by other government agencies’ business-as-usual care-free approvals for relentless transit-hostile real estate and free flow road/highway expansions.

We should have a say on how RapidKL is being run, how they should be accountable in securing riders’ loyalty, and how other agencies (complacent, single occupancy vehicle and free flow traffic-promoting agencies particularly Kementerian Kerja Raya and PBTs, we are looking at you) should be accountable in making people overly dependent on their cars and mopeds.

There is a dire need for complete overhaul of our messy institutional patchworks of urban transportation planning, which artificially forms a nice carpet-looking facade that really does nothing but a convenient political upholstery used to obscure all the dusty quick fixes that have never stood the test of time. The government has been offloading transit planning responsibilities to diffused set of parties who are all working in silos, to the extent that we ought to think that fairness is a zero-sum game. Maintaining transit’s physical distancing rule is fair, but so is coming up with sustainable transit funding framework.

There are no ceilings of monthly pass fares that can work to catch up with post-MCO slack in ridership uptake (what more on catching up to be on par with other livable cities), and no lengths of CEO and Chairman candidates that can stop Prasarana’s never-ending financial bleed, unless we start to treat urban public transport as a public good that we have been taken for granted all these while before social nearness suddenly becomes a distant memory.

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The Kelana Jaya Line Crashed This (Monday) Morning

Collective groaning

At 6:45 am yesterday (18th February 2019) morning, the Kelana Jaya line ground to a complete halt between KLCC and Kelana Jaya. For about two hours, hostlers (those people who were manually driving your trains this morning) and Prasarana staff were scrambling to manage the influx of people coming into the Kelana Jaya Line during the morning peak. People were incensed, annoyed and worried they’ll be late to work and their appointments. Many an angry rant was left on the Rapid KL Facebook and Twitter pages, and Instagram stories about the harrowing experiences of commuters suffering on the network spread like wildfire.

So, what happened?

The technical stuff

This is where we get technical. Bear with us; we’ll dissect the situation and make it easy for you to understand. We got you fam.

That morning, the equipment that controls the automatic running of trains between the Kelana Jaya to KLCC stretch of the line failed. Specifically, the power supply unit (PSU) to the signalling equipment fused, causing the automatic system to go offline. This automatic system (ATO) controls the distance (headway) between trains, their speed and direction of travel (especially when these trains exit the Subang Depot to start the day), as well as to beam back the location of trains to the Prasarana control centre.

The RapidKL rail engineers fixing the signals. (Picture from RapidKL’s Twitter page)

As a result, the automatic train control system (VCC1) couldn’t see where 19 trains were at within this stretch, and Prasarana control executives had to use whiteboards with the track layout overlaid on it to plot the locations of these trains. They stopped all services on the Kelana Jaya Line while they were trying to figure out where all these trains were. This is done for safety purposes – it’s better to err on the side of caution especially in a particularly risky situation as this where the potential for collisions is high.

Once they’ve established where these trains were, hostlers (part time train drivers/conductors) were deployed to the trains in the network to manually drive the trains through this offline section. It’s a marathon of coordination through walkie-talkie between the signallers at the control centre and the hostler. In addition, an alternative train movement plan was worked out as well – trains from Gombak were turned back to ensure that they don’t enter the offline section of track, while trains in Ara Damansara were moving at a snail’s pace to Kelana Jaya.

Staff at these stations meanwhile were putting up signs and beacons warning passengers to seek alternative modes of transport. Approximately 10 shuttle buses were eventually deployed to relieve the congestion building up along the Kelana Jaya Line between USJ, Subang Jaya and KL Sentral. Notices were also being broadcasted on RapidKL’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as their website. Refunds were also being given out at stations in compensation for the delay.

The good, the bad and what can be improved

It is good to note that the safety and the integrity of the line, as well as the passengers, were emphasised in the press conference. It also shows in how Prasarana dealt with the situation by stopping trains along the affected section until they were completely certain about where things are on the network. It’s also important to note that they have improved on the time it takes for them to communicate disruptions to people. Announcements were also made in-station about the recovery efforts as well, and any late-breaking advice on shuttle buses.

However, there’s still a long road to improvement.

There was an expectation that people could find their own way around during a disruption – there was no attempt to inform passengers about potential alternative modes of transport besides their own shuttle buses. A glaringly obvious example of this is at Subang Jaya LRT Station, which connects to the KTM Pelabuhan Klang Line – the least they could do is to inform people that it is possible to get to the city using KTM Komuter services and interchanging with local buses, the MRT, Monorail or the Sri Petaling/Ampang LRT Line. They could even go further to coordinate with KTM and bus services plying the Federal Highway corridor to rush extra services to Subang Jaya and drop the fares for stranded passengers as an apology for the non-existent service. It could’ve offered discounts for passengers who use the Grab platform or used their vehicles to ferry passengers to their intended destinations. It seems that RapidKL’s responsbility for getting passengers to their destinations seem to stop at the gateline. You’re on your own once you’re outside the station. This needs to change.

Cluttered information dilutes attention to what’s important. Were they even trying here? (Picture courtesy of a volunteer)

Information dissemination within the station is still a major issue. While announcements were made, there were times where different stations had different ideas about when the service will recover. Information boards weren’t even standardised, with some stations having clear status boards showing the disruption, while some resorted to a beacon and a laminated A4 sheet surrounded by other irrelevant notices and posters. Consistency of information is important if RapidKL is expected to disseminate information effectively.

All in all…

Disruptions are a normal part of running a public transport network, but more has to be done to reduce the number of unscheduled delays and suspensions. The prevention and handling of these incidents influences the confidence of the travelling public in our public transport system. More has to be done to win back the trust of the public – they are rightfully sceptical about the standard of public transport in our country, and RapidKL, as well as other operators, must learn to work together to buck the trend.

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Haphazard halts are a sign of haphazard planning and policy and organization and management….and especially leadership.

TRANSIT took note of this article in the Star Metro which reminded us how much more needs to be done to improve public transport organization and management in the Klang Valley.

Haphazard halts (The Star Metro,  29 April 2014)

MORE often than not, public buses in the Klang Valley can be seen stopping to pick up passengers willy-nilly, be it by the roadside, along a flyover or even at the junction of a busy main road.

The lack of a proper bus stop or lay-by, does not seem to faze the drivers and the practise has been going on for years.

However, their actions not only contribute to traffic congestion but also pose a threat to life and limb as passengers scramble to board the bus on a busy road.

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Prasarana deals with neighbours affected by KL Monorail extension project

TRANSIT took note of the following interesting article, which describes Prasarana refusing to pay compensation to the residents of the Tong Weng Mansion in Brickfields, while agreeing to pay compensation to two other site owners in the area.

The compensation requests are in relation to the KL Monorail expansion project, which will extend the KL Monorail from the Tun Sambanthan station down to MidValley and to Old Klang Road on the other side of the Federal Highway.

Interestingly enough, all three compensation requests are in relation to properties that are illegally occupying government land – a situation that seems to occur more frequently than one might expect.

Prasarana rejects appeal for funds (Star-Metro Central)

Monday February 27, 2012

SYARIKAT Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) has rejected an appeal for compensation from residents of Tong Weng Mansion in Brickfields.

The residents had appealed for compensation after a badminton court was fenced off for a monorail extension project.

The residents also used the badminton court, which was on government land, as an area for activities such as gatherings and funeral services.

Residents’ association chairman G.S. Maniam said Prasarana had only paid compensation to two temples that had also illegally occupied government land.

“We know it is not our land but we would like some compensation as the money could be used to build a wall between the project site and the mansion,’’ said Maniam.

So close: The project site, behind the blue hoarding, is located directly behind the apartment building. Image courtesy of The Star.

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First 2 of 4 car monorail train sets to begin service in August 2014

TRANSIT took note of the announcement from Prasarana that 4 car service on the KL Monorail is expected to begin in August of 2014. All 12 trains are expected to be in service by September 2015.


KL Monorail’s new four-car train to start operation in August (The Star, 9 April 2014)

This comes after the first two trains were delivered by Scomi Rail in Rawang to the depot in Brickfields for testing and commissioning in late January of 2014
New four car monorail trains arrive at depot (The Star, 25 January 2014)

The new 4 carriage trains can carry 430 passengers and will have space for wheelchairs. The monorail stations are being retrofitted with chair lifts (presumably the ones that attach to stairways? Or proper lifts?) and work is expected to be finished soon.


As you can imagine, we are pleased to see improvements to our public transport services…even incremental ones. The KL Monorail is already a decade old and was horribly over capacity in 2005…so the new carriages are a welcome addition.

Indeed, seeing 4-carriage monorail trains may help raise public confidence that the monorail can be more than just a “toy train” and there may be demand for applications of monorail technology in other cities in the Klang Valley, such as Petaling Jaya in place of the proposed Kinrara Damansara Expressway. TRANSIT has long said that the Sunway BRT line with its RM100 million per km cost, might have been better as a monorail … and could have been extended to connect to the Kelana Jaya LRT Line at Kelana Jaya and the Ampang LRT Line at Puchong.

While the 7 month period of testing and commissioning is a bit of a surprise, we expect that this is also related to the re signalling of the monorail system which will allow for faster train movements.

Overall TRANSIT is pleased but will reserve final judgment until we ride the new trains.

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New Ampang Line trains introduced (update 1)

Prasarana and RAPIDKL will be introducing the new Ampang line trains at 3 pm on Thursday, February 27th.

Click on the links below for images of the trains.


This article by is one of many with details about the new trains which will begin arrival in Malaysia in September 2014.

The important details:

*50 units of 6-car trains designed and built by CAR Zhuzhou (which also built the “Six Car Set” for KTM Komuter)
*30 of these trains will replace the trains currently used on the Ampang line … which are only entering their 20th year (generally train carriages are expected to last approximately 30 years … Although the measurement is really based on kilometers traveled rather than time in service)
*20 of the trains will be used on the Ampang line extension when it opens in 2016
*The trains will have open gangway allowing passengers to walk between all the cars (as compared to the 3 pairs of cars in the current trains) spreading out the passenger load

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Proposed feeder bus routes for the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT extensions. Comments welcomed!

TRANSIT took note of the following proposed feeder bus routes for the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT extensions. All pictures are courtesy of @TWK90.

Proposed bus routes of RapidKL from stations on the LRT extension

Taken from LRT Extension open day in Sunway Pyramid

Ampang line extension

Kelana Jaya line extension


We would like to thank @TWK90 for the photos. Check back here for comments on the proposed routes.

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Why is the MPK using the North Klang bus terminal for a night market, instead of a bus terminal? And why hasn’t the Selangor Government stepped in?

TRANSIT took note of this interesting and disturbing article about the introduction of a night market at the site of the old North Klang bus terminal, which was closed in late 2007 when Klang Sentral was opened.

The irony, of course, is that the bus area remains closed to buses – despite the fact that most buses that serve Klang town have returned to the North Klang bus terminal area, and Klang residents have called on the MPK to improve amenities and facilities.

What makes it worse is that in 4 years, the Selangor government has not stepped in to improve public transport in Klang, reopening the North Klang bus terminal and introducing new services. In addition, SPAD has not stepped in and resolved the issue, despite entreaties from TRANSIT, who recommended to SPAD that solving the Klang Sentral and North Klang bus terminal issues was the best place for them to get started.

The resolution of the North Klang bus terminal issue is going to be a major factor in any improvement to public transport in the west Klang Valley.

Flea market draws flak (The Star)

Saturday February 18, 2012
Story and photos by ELAN PERUMAL

THE Klang Municipal Council’s decision to approve the Nadi Kota Uptown flea market at the site of the former North Klang bus terminal has not gone down well with traders in the area.

The North Klang bus terminal remains closed, but buses and passengers still gather on Jalan Pos. Image courtesy of The Star.

They feel that the council’s decision to approve the market which operates from 10pm to 4am daily is not a good idea.

The traders said this was because the bus terminal issue had not been resolved yet after the move to Klang Sentral in Meru four years ago.

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3-day LRT extension programme open day at Sunway Pyramid this weekend

TRANSIT took note of this interesting article which discusses the Open Day that Prasarana is holding to share information about the LRT Extension Programme Open Day which will inform the public about the Ampang & Kelana Jaya LRT extension plans.

300 lucky visitors to get free MyRapid cards at three-day LEP Open Day (The Star)
February 9, 2012

PETALING JAYA: Three hundred lucky visitors will receive free MyRapid cards during the Klang Valley’s LRT Line Extension Project (LEP) Open Day this weekend.

LEP project and asset owner, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, will be giving out 10 cards hourly at its booth, totalling 100 cards daily from Feb 10 to 12.

Prasarana group managing director Datuk Shahril Mokhtar said the MyRapid cards, currently used by commuters taking the Kelana Jaya and Ampang lines, would be given out as a gesture to thank its customers for supporting the LEP.

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Additional public transport services for Thaipusam

TRANSIT took note of the following information about additional public transport services for Thaipusam.

KTMB will be adding KTM Komuter train services to Batu Caves station, while RapidKL will be adding additional bus services.

For more information, please click on the links below: