Malaysia enters new era for more efficient transportation network

24 Dec 2017 / 18:32 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: With the introduction of the e-hailing system legislation for ride-sharing services and the government's initiatives to extend and upgrade existing public transport, Malaysia's transportation industry in 2017 has rapidly evolved from what it was a year ago, to introduce a new era for a more efficient transportation network.
Since 2010, the government has been continuously working hard to enable the public to enjoy a world-class public transportation system by incorporating the latest technology in the facilities offered.
After a few years of being deemed as illegal for operating without the licence to ferry passengers, both Uber and GrabCar can now operate legally following the Dewan Rakyat's move to pass the e-hailing services Bill in July 2017, enabling the government to regulate the service operators.
Under this new law, e-hailing drivers are required to go through health checks, periodic inspection of their vehicles and display security cards of the Land Public Transport Commission, while the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board regulate drivers in Sabah and Sarawak based on the same requirements imposed on conventional taxi drivers.
By offering up to 20% cheaper fares compared to regular taxi fares, Uber and GrabCar had no difficulty in gaining the public's favour, and the introduction of the services had revolutionised the local public transport industry and created economic opportunities for many Malaysians.
Unsurprisingly, this had negatively affected the ecosystem of taxi drivers and taxi operators and raised concerns in the local taxi industry.
However, Malaysia Institute of Road Safety Research Director General, Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon, said the e-hailing concept would not kill the taxi industry as the services were part of the taxi industry too.
"The government had legalised it to create a single platform for Uber, GrabCar and taxis to operate under the same authority, so that the public can have better services, going forward," he said.
Meanwhile, the launch of the Mass Rapid Transit Sungai Buloh-Kajang's (MRT SBK) second phase from Semantan to Kajang on July 17, 2017 was marked as a real game changer in the train services, transforming the economic generation and lifestyle of Malaysians and tourists alike.
Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the completion of the SBK line, which was the first among the three-line Klang Valley MRT system, was at the top of his priority list as he noticed that Klang Valley residents badly needed a modern, efficient, reliable and safe mode of public transportation.
Phase two of the MRT SBK consists of 19 stations between Semantan and Kajang, and the whole journey takes about 86.3 minutes, with fares ranging from RM1 to RM6.40.
Prasarana (M) Bhd had also deployed 80 MRT feeder buses with 23 routes spanning 255km together with the launch of the MRT SBK Phase two.
Depending on traffic conditions, the frequencies of the buses are between 10 and 15 minutes, making it easier for commuters living around the line and attract at least 200,000 ridership daily.
MRT's second line which connects Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya is targeted to be fully completed in 2022, with 37 stations along the 52.2km route.
The alignment is expected to reach 19% by year-end, with tunnelling works to begin in the first quarter of next year.
Meanwhile, the MRT Line 3 (MRT3) will improve connectivity by linking with the existing urban rail network and will boost economic activity and become a catalyst for development, said MRT Corporation Sdn Bhd's Director of Strategic Communication and Stakeholder Relations, Datuk Najmuddin Abdullah
MRT3 is also known as the MRT Circle Line as it will encircle Kuala Lumpur along 40km, stretching 30km underground with a total of 26 stations. Its construction is expected to kick-off in 2019.
Najmuddin said the decision to switch the MRT Line 3 (MRT3) project delivery structure to a turnkey model from a project delivery partner could help save billions of ringgit.
"The tender process for MRT3 contractor is ongoing and we expect to award the tender in the first quarter of 2018," he told Bernama.
In Budget 2018, tabled on Oct 27, Najib announced that MRT3 would be completed in 2025, two years earlier than the expected completion date of 2027.
The MRT, which connects the existing 285km Kuala Lumpur urban rail involving the Light Rail Transit (LRT), monorail and Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd's commuter service, will accelerate the nation's economic growth.
The government's initiative in developing reliable and sustainable land public transport system continues with the LRT Line Extension project (LRT3), consisting of 26 stations, spanning a distance of 37km.
Set to complete in August 2020, the RM9 billion LRT3 project is expected to serve 74,000 commuters daily between Bandar Utama and Johan Setia, Klang, said Prasarana (M) Bhd.
However, following the development of the LRT3, the government has decided to discontinue the Kuala Lumpur-Klang Bus Rapid Transit as it overlaps with the LRT3 routes.
The decision was announced by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, on Nov 28, 2017 who noted that the cancellation was made following a detailed observation on the project's proposal and after taking into account other public infrastructure projects in the greater KL and Klang Valley.
Meanwhile, on the development of the 350km long KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR), the designs of its seven stations, namely Bandar Malaysia, Bangi-Putrajaya, Seremban, Malacca, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, have been unveiled along with a public inspection exercise from Nov 1, 2017 to Jan 31, 2018.
The 300kph HSR is eagerly awaited by many Malaysians, especially those living near the lines, and is expected to boost connectivity and accelerate the development of the southern region.
With the assertion that the transportation projects are on track and completed under-budget, the success of these projects, culminating from years of hard work, mirrors the government's commitment to revolutionise urban transport despite economic challenges such as the weaker ringgit and declining oil prices.
The Malaysian transportation infrastructure ranked 11th among 138 countries in the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index 2016-2017 Report, in recognition of the country's transportation infrastructure quality.
This is good news for Malaysia.
While many Malaysians condemn the government for what is lacking in the country's public transportation system, many of its Southeast Asian neighbours are in awe and have it even worse.
Going forward, considering Malaysia's inspiration to become a world-class economy in 2020, people can expect this current decade to witness an acceleration of construction activities, particularly on projects that can boost the country's infrastructure and utility services in order to keep up with the growing demand from the public.
This includes the East Coast Rail Link, West Coast Expressway, Klang Valley Double Track, LRT3, MRT2, MRT3 and the Pan Borneo Highway projects, which are in the pipeline and under construction. — Bernama

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