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TRANSIT says goodbye to 2011 and wishes everyone a happy 2012

The year 2011 has been quite tumultuous for public transport and indeed, for many people in many places throughout the world.

Specifically to public transport, we in Malaysia have seen a number of major changes.

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HSR Update: Pre-feasibility study findings on KL-S’pore high-speed rail to be known in a few weeks

TRANSIT took note of this “sort-of-an-update” on the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail Project:

Study on KL-S’pore high-speed rail (Star Biz)
5 August 2011

Findings of pre-feasibility study to be known in a few weeks

KUALA LUMPUR: A pre-feasibility study for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) system will be concluded in a few weeks, Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) director Ahmad Suhaili said.

Commuter Train (EMU) Complaints - RapidKL Feedback High Speed Rail Information Mass Transit (LRT/MRT/METRO) Mass Transit Proposals News & Events RapidKL Safety, Health and Environment Stage Bus

Updates #90

Updates #90

1. Article: Close shave for six schoolgirls (NST, 18 June 2011) – Six secondary school students in Georgetown had a close shave yesterday after the school bus they were in overturned in Jalan Mount Erskine.

The school bus lying on its side after the crash in Jalan Mount Erskine, Penang, yesterday. — NST picture by Norhayati Umor

2. Article: Country’s first electric motorcycle launched (The Star, 16 June 2011) – Modenas CTric was launched by the Transport Minister.

[TRANSIT: So wait, now you like electric motorcycles?]

3. Article: Taiwan high speed rail ‘sinking’ (APF, 14 June 2011) – Along a stretch of rail in central Taiwan, the soil has subsided due to excessive draining of ground waters, and the limit of what is considered safe is approaching, said Lee Hong-yuan, head of the Public Construction Commission.

4. Article: Reining in the trains (The Star, 18 June 2011) – Chan How Ban’s column on China focuses on High Speed Rail, including government plans to reduce service speeds on the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail from 350km/h to 300 km/h to reduce operational costs. There will also be a service operating at 250km/h to show respect for those who want a slower pace.

[TRANSIT: If 250km/h is showing respect for those who want a slower pace, then KTMB is probably one of the most respectful companies in the railway industry.]

5. Article: RapidKL promises investigations – this comes in response to complaints about RapidKL’s U40 bus service in Kajang.

6. Article: JB-S’pore rail link to connect with new MRT line – Basically, the Thompson Line will terminate at Republich Polytechnic, where passengers can access Rapid Transit System (RTS) services to JB.

[TRANSIT: Thanks to Ethan for that clarification. Of course we know no details about the RTS so far but it looks like a separate crossing is going to be built.]

7. NKRA Update: Pemandu updates with articles in the various media on the Urban Public Transport NKRA.

8. Letter: No logic to segregation (Malay Mail, 13 June 2011) – Complaints about women-only services

9. Artikel: Bas U69 Selalu Lewat (Harian Metro, hb. 14 Jun 2011) – Mohamed Hazlan dari Prasarana / RapidKL membalas surat tentang perkhidmatan bas RapidKL.

10. Article: Cameron Highlands bus crash file with A-G (NST, 14 June 2011 – The report on the Cameron Highlands bus crash has been completed and shared with the Cabinet and is now with the Attorney-General’s Office. However, there is currently no plan to lay charges.

11. Article: MRCB poised to clinch RM800m LRT contract (Business Times, 15 June 2011) – self explanatory.

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What is the ‘rail’ truth anyways?

TRANSIT took note of this very interesting commentary from Associate Professor Sabariah Jemali from the Malaysian Institute for Transport at Universiti Teknologi Mara (Shah Alam).

Prof. Sabariah writes of the overwhelming attention given to the MRT project and comments that the attention given may reflect the boiling over of all of the frustrations of public transport users (and many drivers as well) over the disorganized, poorly planned, poorly integrated private and public transport systems that they have to deal with every day.

We agree. Oh yes, we certainly agree – and we wonder if some of that frustration is also being expressed because talk of the MRT project as the ‘grand solution’ to our public transport woes just reminds the public of similar talk in the past – about RapidKL, about the LRT, about the Komuter system, about IntraKota…

The rail truth — Sabariah Jemali (The Malaysian Insider)
April 23, 2011

APRIL 23 — The Klang Valley MRT project has received so much media attention over the past six weeks that the whole project is beginning to seem bigger than what it already is. Never before has so much anger, bitterness and frustration been poured over an infrastructure project. It would appear that all the bad experiences associated with packed trains, stalled buses and walks in the scorching heat have rained on the proposed MRT line running from Sungai Buloh to Kajang in one fiery storm.

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500km of ‘MRT’ in Iskandar, Johor? Not in our lifetime (Update #1)

Update: SPAD CEO Mohd Nor Kamal has responded to the announcement by saying that SPAD has not seen any proposal yet!

TRANSIT took note of a very interesting announcement from down south, where the Chief Executive of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority appeared to announce a 500km MRT project for the region.

Now before any jaws drop down to the floor, stop and think for a minute. MRT is a term that means “mass-rapid transit” meaning, a “rapid transit” service (or combination of “rapid transit” services) that moves a large number (a “mass”) of people.

In other words, in this case “MRT network” could actually mean “Mass(ive) Rapid Transit network” and still be a semi-appropriate use of the term.

And this isn’t the first “strange” use of public transport terminology – TRANSIT commented in July 2010 about the use of “Vast Rapid Transit” to describe the proposed rapid transit network

MRT proposed for Iskandar Malaysia (Star Biz, 13 April 2011)

KUALA LUMPUR: A plan to build a 500km mass rapid transit (MRT) system has been proposed to improve the connectivity within Iskandar Malaysia, according to Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive Ismail Ibrahim.

“The MRT project will be developed in five or six phases. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2020. The announcement will be made by the Prime Minister if the proposal is accepted,” he said at the Invest Malaysia 2011 yesterday.

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MRT Update: First contract running into controversy?

TRANSIT took note of this article today which states that the first contract for the Klang Valley MRT project (for the Independent Check Engineer) has been approved by the Finance Ministry, overruling an earlier rejection by Prasarana.

MRT’s first contract runs into controversy (The Malaysian Insider)
Thu, Apr 14, 2011

By Jahabar Sadiq

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — The owners of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) will award their first major contract today for an independent check engineer (ICE) chosen by the government and who will be paid two per cent of the undetermined project cost, which is reportedly above market rates.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the consortium of HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd, Hong Kong’s MTR Corp Ltd and Canadian SNC-Lavalin is likely to land the contract despite being rejected by Syarikat Prasarana Berhad (SPNB) earlier for not putting a price to its brief — which usually costs up to 0.8 per cent of the total project.

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Updates #79

Updates #79 – This is our real post for 1 April 2011!

1. Article: Three-tiered parking complex to be built at Serdang KTM station (The Star, 29 March 2011)

2. Article: RapidKL bus division receives ISO Certification – two articles, from NST & Malay Mail on 30 March 2011.

3. Letter: MRT: Learn and adopt from the best system (NST, 30 March 2011) – A. AZMI, of Kuala Lumpur writes that we should look carefully at the design of the Singapore MRT as a model for our own.

4. Article: Main complaint: Express buses (Malay Mail, 29 March 2011) – Over 80% of the 3362 complaints received by SPAD since January relate to express buses. In a linked article, the President of the Pan-Malaysian Bus Operators’ Association (PMBOA) says that bus operators should be required by the government to post driver information inside the bus.

[TRANSIT: Sigh, Ashfar you are the president of the Association. Set an example by getting the big companies to do so. Then, tell the public to only use ‘reputable’ bus companies that inform the public. You’re a businessman. Why do you always want to wait for a government decree to take positive action???]

5. Letter: Sort out driver issue and all will fall in place (The Star, 31 March 2011) – Zamri Mahmud writes that the complaints about express bus drivers (described above) are likely because of their behaviour & resolution will come through increased enforcement & better training (funded & organized through the LPTC).

[TRANSIT: Yes…and no. There are more issues than simply ‘attitude’ and those issues have been well-documented. We do agree that there is a need for public transport-focused training for operators & drivers.]

6. Article: Roadshows to promote Best bus service (The Star, 31 March 2011) – Self explanatory.

7. Article: Public bus services in Manjung to be upgraded (The Star, 31 March 2011) – THE Perak government will spend RM4.32mil over the next five years (RM72,000 monthly) to revive public bus services in the Manjung district. New services (managed by a private company) are expected to begin next month.

8. Article: Residents express fear over LRT routes (The Star, 31 March 2011) – Residents of Putra Heights and Taman Subang Alam, have continued to express their concerns over the proposed LRT extension route near their areas. The issue was also mentioned in the Selangor Times.

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MRT Update: A comparison of MRT & LRT train lengths is in order (Update #2)

  • Updated with a new image including the 6-carriage KTM Komuter trains!
  • Updated with a new image showing LRT & MRT trains from Malaysia only!

TRANSIT has taken note of various comments & reports showcasing the advantages of the MRT over the LRT – as well as recent articles highlighting surveys by the Go-MRT group showing 93/95% support (depending on which article you read) for the MRT project.

When we see anecdotal comments such as these, we often wonder if the people who comment are really taking the time to understand the issue or simply responding to ‘themed’ questions in those surveys that can direct people towards certain answers (and therefore, direct the survey to certain results).

In other words, perhaps these surveys are ‘loaded’ because people do not really understand what the actual differences are.

This is the most dangerous sort of situation, where the public give their nearly-unconditional approval to projects (the more ‘mega’ the better) based on the assumption that the ‘investment’ is an improvement on what already exists.

Sometimes the differences are a lot smaller than people would think.

A few weeks ago, TRANSIT asked our favourite illustrator @Bukhrin (who has done some wonderful Klang Valley route maps for us) to help the public compare the MRT to the existing LRT system. @Bukhrin came up with this image shown below, which does a wonderful job of comparing the lengths of the six L and M “RT” trains that have operated or are proposed for the Klang Valley:

  • Klang Valley MRT 4-carriage (proposed for “MRT” lines);
  • ADtranz 3-carriage articulated EMU train (operating on Ampang Line);
  • ADtranz 2-carriage articulated EMU train (operated on Ampang Line)
  • Bombardier ART Mark II 4-carriage set (operating on Kelana Jaya line);
  • Bombardier ART Mark II 2+2 carriage set (tested on Kelana Jaya Line);
  • Bombardier ART Mark II 2-carriage (operating on Kelana Jaya Line).
Comparison of MRT & LRT train lengths, carriage combination & door structure - including the existing LRT trains and proposed rolling stock for the Sg. Buloh - Kajang MRT line. Image courtesy of @Bukhrin.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

More information after the jump!

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At what cost shall SPAD defend the MRT contractual model? (Update #1)

TRANSIT members learned with interest of the SPAD CEO’s enlightening statements in response to criticism over the appointment of Gamuda-MMC as the project delivery partner (PDP) for the MRT project.

Advantages of PDP model for the Klang Valley MRT — Mohd Nur Kamal (Malaysian Insider)
March 28, 2011

MARCH 28 — I read with some interest the comments made on the appointment of the project delivery partner (PDP) for the MRT project. Allow me to clarify some points about the concept and role of the PDP.

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SPAD: MRT part of 20-year plan. TRANSIT: May we see the plan?

Imagine, if you will, a conversation that goes something like this:

SPAD: The MRT is part of a 20-year public transport master plan.
TRANSIT: May we see the plan?
SPAD: No you cannot see the plan
TRANSIT: Sorry, is that ‘cannot’ or ‘may not’?
SPAD: Um…cannot.
TRANSIT: Why not?
SPAD: The plan will not be ready until September.
TRANSIT: Oh, so that’s what you meant by cannot. You don’t have a plan yet.

Of course this is not a real conversation – it’s more of a bad joke describing something that never happened. But if you think about it, SPAD is having this imaginary conversation with the public every time they tell us that they have a plan for public transport.

It isn’t that the public does not believe that SPAD has a plan or is developing a plan. It’s just that there is no logic in pushing the MRT project to be launched in July 2011 when the plan will not be ready until September 2011.

MRT part of 20-year plan (NST)
15 March 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT project is only the beginning of improved public transport services for the future, says Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.

“The project is part of a 20-year master plan to raise the standard of public transport service in stages.

“The plan is scheduled to be ready in September,” he said during his visit to Balai Berita here with a SPAD delegation yesterday.

[TRANSIT: Apparently some of the plan may be made public next month – but will it be an incomplete, rushed plan? Will SPAD have it ready?]