Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MRT proposal fails integration test

The current proposed location of the Bandar Utama MRT station is roughly between the LDP highway and the trees on the far right to the east of 1 Utama mall — Pictures by Choo Choy May.

Petaling Jaya, March 11 — Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua has questioned the planning of the proposed MRT system, saying that the lack of synergistic integration with bus terminals and other train lines could impair ridership targets and dispersal of commuters.

He noted that in Singapore, which has a widely-admired public transport system, 10 of the 17 MRT stations outside its Central Business District along the North-South line are integrated with bus terminals offering trunk, feeder and intra-town services.

“The proposed MRT system fails the integration test and poses the question as to whether the Gamuda-MMC driven project and designed alignment serves the interest of the public transport users or other hidden commercial interest,” said Pua in a press conference today.

He noted as an example that the Bandar Utama MRT station in Petaling Jaya, which is expected to serve 46,900 passengers daily, was not integrated with a growing bus hub located about 1km further west of the proposed station which is also near ample open land for expansion.

Pua claimed that the MRT proposal is being affected by commercial interests.The outspoken DAP MP also claimed that the ability of the Bandar Utama station to achieve its expected passenger numbers is also severely compromised by the fact that there are no public parking facilities with the exception of those in the 1 Utama shopping mall and One World hotel which are not meant for MRT commuters.

Pua also claimed that the MRT proposal, which has been touted as the country's biggest ever infrastructure project, is being affected by commercial interests and that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) had appeared to take a backseat to the whole process.

“The BU MRT station is the perfect example of what is likely to go wrong when the country’s biggest public transport infrastructure investment is proposed and designed almost entirely by commercial parties with vested interest,” he said. “SPAD, which is meant to be the regulator to protect the interest of the public transport user in this case, only plays the bridesmaid’s role.”

Pua suggested that SPAD reviews the design, placement and overall public transport plans for the MRT stations to prevent any negative or undesirable outcomes.

The lack of seamless integration has been by far the biggest criticism of the city’s existing transit system, prompting some to describe it as an embarrassment to KL which has aspirations to become one of the top 20 most liveable and economically vibrant cities in the world.

Examples of existing integration failures include the Masjid Jamek interchange where commuters once had to exit the station and cross a busy road to change to another train line, and the Dang Wangi-Bukit Nenas “interchange” where commuters must exit the LRT station and walk about five minutes and buy another ticket in order to change to the monorail line.

Pua also noted that the proposed location of the KL Sentral MRT station is a “significant distance” away from the KL Sentral hub which currently houses the KTM, KTM Komuter, KLIA Transit, KLIA Express and Putra LRT services, and risks making the same mistake as the existing monorail station which is disconnected from the hub.

The Sungai Buloh-Kajang line alignment is currently on display for public viewing until May 14 at seven locations across the city — Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Petaling Jaya City Council, Shah Alam City Council, Selayang Municipal Council, Kajang Municipal Council, Bangsar LRT station and the SPAD office in Menara Dayabumi.

The public can provide their feedback on the project via email to or through the SPAD toll-free line at 1-800-82-6868.

Ample land to the west of 1 Utama mall 1km from the proposed MRT station, where a large car park and a growing bus hub is located.