Saturday, January 19, 2013

Land Transport Masterplan 2013

Part 1 of Land Transport Masterplan 2013 here

As part of the Land Transport Masterplan 2013, two new MRT lines will be built and three existing lines will be extended. This will double the current rail network from 178 km to about 360 km.

The CCL will close the link between HarbourFront and Marina Bay stations and save commuters the hassle of making multiple transfers. The extension, which will also pass through Keppel, is expected to be completed by 2025.

The DTL will be two km longer by 2025 -- to run through the East Coast area. It will be connected to the East West Line and the Eastern Region Line, which will be ready by 2020, so that commuters can transfer between the Downtown Line and Eastern Region Line in the east.

The NEL will be extended northwards by one station to serve Punggol North including the new Punggol Downtown.

[SG] More new MRT lines to be built by 2030

More new MRT lines to be built by 2030 (The Star)

Friday January 18, 2013

THE Government has announced a slew of new rail transit projects which will be completed by 2030.

By then, Singapore’s metro network will increase to 360km, from 178km today. The latest new rail projects were announced by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew during a visit to the Downtown Line 1’s Chinatown station yesterday morning.

The biggest project will be for a 50km MRT line running from Changi to Jurong that will be up by 2030.

Called the Cross Island Line, it will pass towns such as Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Timah, West Coast and Clementi.

Next is the 20km Jurong Region Line, expected to be completed by 2025, JRL will connect the Jurong region with the rest of Singapore. Commuters in the north will be also able to enter the Jurong area directly via the JRL, without having to interchange at the heavily-used Jurong East interchange. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Part 2 of Land Transport Masterplan 2013 here

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

North East Line broke down, Jan 10

Notice on display to inform about the breakdown.

North-East Line services between Harbour Front and Dhoby Ghaut Stations in both directions were down on Thursday due to a power fault.

The fault started at 9.51am on Thursday morning which caused a delay on the line. Engineers then traced the fault to wires in the overhead power system in a section of tunnel between Outram Park and Harbourfront.

To enable repair work, train services were disrupted at 10.14am.

Shuttle buses have been activated to provide commuters with alternative transport.

Affected commuters can also get free rides on bus services serving designated bus stops at affected stations.

SBS Transit in a statement said it apologised to all affected commuters for the inconvenience caused and hoped to get the line up as quickly as possible.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Malls must revitalise to stay relevant

Malls must revitalise to stay relevant

Monday January 7, 2013

BUILDING owners must refurbish their properties from time to time to ensure their products remain relevant to keep consumers coming back year after year, Bukit Bintang-KLCC Tourism Association Kuala Lumpur chairman Joyce Yap said.

“In light of the competition, the loyalty of shoppers does not lie in the shopping complex but rather the product they like.

“Subconsciously, people tend to feel safer and at ease in a modern and brightly-lit building with all the facilities to cater to convenience and comfort,’’ Yap said.

“Older shopping centres cannot afford to not upgrade and must find ways to add value to their product to enjoy better ROI (return on investment) in the long run.

“It is all part of the motivating factor and the evolution to keep up with the competition,’’ she added.

With over 40 years of experience and being instrumental in transforming a dying Imbi Plaza into a popular shopping centre in the early 1980s, Yap clearly knows what she is talking about.

She has used the same formula of “re-generation” to make a success of every other shopping centre that she worked at.

It is no surprise to find her now as Pavilion Kuala Lumpur’s chief executive officer (retail).

But she insisted that despite Pavilion’s current success as a top shopping centre in the city, even they have to refurbish every three to five years, to keep re-inventing themselves.

“Bukit Bintang is traditionally a shopping hub, and when Pavilion came up, we were the catalyst that transformed the area and drove tenants and other mall owners to upgrade,’’ Yap said.

She was quick to point out that there were physical constraints when upgrading the older malls, like what they experienced with Fahrenheit88 (formerly KL Plaza).

However, she said, these setbacks could be compensated by other elements such as variety and value to make it sustainable.

She reminded that Kuala Lumpur’s placing as the fourth best shopping destination in the world by global news network CNN showed the potential of shopping hubs such as Bukit Bintang for growth.

“We scored rather low on connectivity, but that’s where the Government comes in and they too realise that they need to improve on connectivity with MRT, pedestrian bridges, sky bridges and walkways.

“But stakeholders must play a role by looking at the big picture and start thinking out of the box.

“They can no longer behave like a poor cousin living in a wealthy street without ever changing,’’ said Yap.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ageing buildings in Bukit Bintang in midst of redevelopment

Monday January 7, 2013

Ageing buildings in Bukit Bintang in midst of redevelopment

Stories by BAVANI M 
Photos by P.NATHAN

New purpose: The ageing Bangunan Yayasan Selangor (left) will be turned into a boutique hotel.New purpose: The ageing Bangunan Yayasan Selangor (left) will be turned into a boutique hotel.

IT IS inevitable that Kuala Lumpur’s fortune is largely determined in the heart of the city.

As congested, polluted and noisy as it is, the capital will continue to attract people like a moth to light.

Therefore redevelopment of older areas in the city is imminent.
A good model that is ripe for “regeneration” is the Bukit Bintang district or famously known as the Golden Triangle.

Jalan Bukit Bintang in particular is bracing itself for a major transformation once the construction of its Bukit Bintang MRT station is under way.
It will be a catalyst for change that will see an influx of people and businesses to spur the economy to greater heights.

Once the MRT is completed, the urban landscape and its surroundings is poised to go through major make-over that will see many of its ageing buildings forced to take on a more modern look to remain in business.

It is no surprise to note that many of the commercial buildings located here are already in the midst of renovating and refurbishing to make themselves commercially viable.

Don’t be left out: With the MRT project under way, many owners of old buildings are advised to redevelop their assets to attract more business.Don’t be left out: With the MRT project under way, many owners of old buildings are advised to redevelop their assets to attract more business.

A check with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) revealed 11 applications for renovation and refurbishing work had been received from commercial buildings in and around Jalan Bukit Bintang alone.

Commercial buildings such as the 36-year-old Sungei Wang Plaza, Yayasan Selangor building, Lot 10 shopping centre, BB Plaza and Plaza Low Yat have either started or in the midst of planning for major upgrades.

According to industry sources, Berjaya Times Square, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and even the hotels in the vicinity are revamping their looks or planning new additions.
Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) president Prof Datuk Dr Alias Abdullah said it would be unwise for land and building owners not to leverage on the MRT project and to refurbish their ageing blocks now.

“Now is the time to do that (refurbishment), the potential benefits for the long term is tremendous and those who do not, are only going to lose out in the long run,’’ said Prof Alias.

Malaysia Shopping Malls Associa-tion president H.C. Chan said rejuvenation of older malls was critical for long-term investments if they wanted to remain competitive.

Real estate negotiator Shamini Stoere concurred with Prof Alias and Chan, saying that ageing properties were a big no-no to potential investors and tenants.

“Kuala Lumpur being the economic hub and Bukit Bintang as its nucleus not only contributes 40% to the nation’s growth, but is also a common address for multinational companies to set up shop.

“Most investors prefer new offices for their staff and are not willing to fork out money just to refurbish buildings.

“Most old offices require a whole lot more work than just replacing carpets and repainting. Wiring, piping and lighting are major headaches, which cost millions to repair,’’ she added.

A good example is Bukit Bintang’s first shopping centre, the iconic Sungei Wang Plaza is embarking on a RM30mil refurbishing exercise that is set to change its facade and interior.

Based on the mall’s newsletter, refurbishing plans include replacement of common area ceiling, tiles, signage and floor directory.

All toilets, concourse stage, mall atrium and lift lobby will be upgraded and covered pedestrian walkway will be built.

A local daily had reported that the ageing Yayasan Selangor building, which is currently vacant, will be transformed into a boutique hotel.

The daily quoted Yayasan Selangor general manager Ilham Marzuki, saying that Kenanga Wholesale City Sdn Bhd won the bid to refurbish and operate state education fund Yayasan Selangor’s Bangunan Bukit Bintang commercial property here.

Upon completion, the building will feature 144,000 sq ft of space while its basement level will be connected to the proposed Bukit Bintang Central MRT station.

Yayasan Selangor had earlier this year issued tenders for the redevelopment of their assets to maximise their value and income generation.

Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Kuala Lumpur branch secretary Tan Ching Meng said the capital city, and particularly the matured areas and tourist hotspots, must keep re-inventing itself to stay vibrant and relevant.

“They must be allowed to re-brand themselves every now and then to create a vibrant street steeped with character and style.

Tan, however, was quick to point out that any refurbishment must be tastefully done, and adhere to local authority bylaws to ensure that there was no haphazard development in terms of design and architecture.

A point that is echoed by Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president Saifuddin Ahmad, who felt that City Hall should play a part in ensuring that building owners adhere to design criteria.

“Certain design criteria should be in place for structures that are located in prime tourist areas, otherwise it will be chaotic.

“Engaging with the retail representatives is important, better still if incentives are provided,’’ Saifuddin said.

About 12 areas spanning a total area of 90ha had been identified as a good model for regeneration projects in the heart of the city.

The areas listed in the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 include areas such as Sang Peng, Loke Yew, the former Pudu Jail, old shophouses along Jalan Bukit Bintang and former government quarters in Jalan Davis had been marked for redevelopment.
Different sites have different rejuvenation plans.

For instance, areas with old, overcrowded PPR (public housing schemes) units will be upgraded to bigger units balanced with public amenities to provide residents a better quality lifestyle.

Meanwhile blighted housing, industrial areas and old shophouses in the city will be more commercially attractive while the open space in front of the 113-year-old Pudu Jail has been earmarked for mixed commercial use.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Restructuring plan for Prasarana

Massive restructuring plan for Malaysia's biggest urban public transport asset owner
By Sharidan

Friday January 4, 2013

New structure: (from left) Shahril; Prasarana group director, project development, Zulkifli Mohamed Yusoff; and group director, finance, Mohd Zahir Zahur Hussain at the briefing.

KUALA LUMPUR: Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd has embarked on a massive restructuring plan that will see the country's biggest urban public transport asset owner and operator attain more financial sustainability, alleviate the heavy burden of its debt and have a better grip on its operations.

Group managing director Datuk Shahril Mokhtar said Prasarana had issued a total of about RM10bil of bonds and sukuk for the past decade and was paying about RM400mil in interest per year.

And the public transportation giant is expected to issue another RM6bil of sukuk in two equal tranches by February and another in the third quarter of this year to finance its two light rail transit (LRT) system extensions that cost about RM7bil and other infrastructure works in the pipeline.

It was highlighted in Auditor-General's Report 2011 that Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd or RapidKL, a unit of Prasarana that operates the rail and bus operations before the restructuring, had an accumulated total loss of RM293.8mil as at December 2010.

The new Prasarana structure with immediate effect includes the creation of four new entities Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd, Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd, Prasarana Integrated Management and Engineering Services Sdn Bhd (Prime) and Prasarana Integrated Development Sdn Bhd (Pride).

The move is part of Prasarana's five-year plan as underlined in its Go Forward Plan 2.0 (GFP 2.0) blueprint.

These entities will now operate the rail, bus, public transport consultancy services as well as property and commercial development for the group with their own separate accounts.

All the debts from the bonds are reflected at the holding company level.

“Basically, we do not have subsidy and we go to the market to finance our project development.

“But the question is where do we get the money to service the debt? Mostly it is from operations but we are working on this corporate restructuring to stay sustainable,” said Shahril after the unveiling of its new corporate structure yesterday.

Explaining the performance of its business units, Shahril said the rail operations that were profitable were cushioning the losses of the bus operations.

“But that is not sustainable and we are finding ways so that one day the bus operations will be sustainable on its own,” he said, adding that only 10% of the bus routes were profitable as part of its social commitments to provide public transport services.

[KVMRT: Why no extra efforts/plans to make bus routes to be profitable?]

Rail was making a yearly revenue of about RM240mil with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of RM50mil.

Meanwhile, the business operations have a yearly revenue of about RM180mil but the operational cost was at a staggering RM280mil and that reflected a loss of RM100mil.

Shahril said with a separate profit and loss accounts now, Prasarana could show to the Government how each business unit, especially the bus and rail, was performing.

“Nevertheless, to be fair to the bus operations (Rapid Bus), the rail division (Rapid Rail) has to pay a fee to Rapid Bus for the feeder buses it uses.

“The restructuring exercise would also allow Prasarana to make decisions faster than before, thus giving it a greater freedom to further improve its level of services to the stakeholders,” he said.

For the bus and rail services, Shahril said Prasarana also planned to expand apart from the Klang Valley, Penang and Kuantan to Ipoh, Seremban, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

[KVMRT: Rapid Kuantan has been launced while Rapid Seremban is next in the pipeline, a major relieve for public transport users in Seremban.]

Shahril said to further aid the group's financial sustainability, Prasarana was also going big on property and commercial development.

“There is only a few public transport companies in the world that are actually profitable.

“One of them is Hong Kong's MTR Corp where more than 60% of its income is from commercial and property development and we are going to do just that,” he said.

Shahril said Prasarana was also keen to list its rail business on the stock market post-2018 when the current Sungai Buloh-Kajang mass rapid transit (MRT) system was completed.

“It is because the whole MRT project is fully funded by the Government, thus operationally, it will make money,” he said.

For Prime, Shahril said Prasarana would make good use of its vast expertise in infrastructure development to provide consultancy services locally and abroad.

“Ultimately, we want to increase our non-fare business to contribute at least 20% of our revenue by 2017 from 8% now,” he said.

Prasarana to be property developer

MRT firm goes big on property

Syarikat Prasarana plans to step up developments around its train stations
By Pauline Ng

Public transport in the Klang Valley and some of the country's bigger cities has become a priority for Putrajaya after decades of neglect as Malaysians decry every attempt to increase fuel prices as unreasonable given the lamentable rail and bus services - Photo: Bloomberg

TO defray some of the massive costs incurred in public transport infrastructure projects, Syarikat Prasarana Nasional Bhd is planning to step up real estate development around its train stations and list its rail operations in 2018, after the first Klang Valley mass rapid transit (MRT) line is completed in 2017.

The state-owned transport operator is looking at real estate with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of over RM3 billion (S$1.2 billion) to be undertaken in a joint venture with developers.

"We are going big into property and commercial," group managing director Shahril Mokhtar said at a press briefing yesterday.

Prasarana derives 8 per cent of its revenue from non-fares - 92 per cent comes from fares - but aims to increase the share to 20-30 per cent by 2017 without incurring "a single sen" since its partners would be building on land owned by the Federal Land Commissioner.

Latest property projects involved mixed-developments in
> Brickfields and Ara Damansara worth RM1.2bil and RM700mil in gross development value (GDV) respectively.

> Ara Damansara development last year to Trans Resources Corp Sdn Bhd in a joint venture and will announce the contract owner for the Brickfields project by the end of next month.

>joint venture with Crest Builder and Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd to develop RM1.04bil of retail, offices and serviced residences adjacent to the Dang Wangi LRT station.

It expected to gain RM220mil from its 21.2% share in the project.

Another JV is with Naza TTDI Ventures to build RM155.3mil of residences in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

A woman walks past the MRT Information Truck in Kuala Lumpur. Prasarana is keen to list its rail business on the stock market by 2018 when the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT system is completed.