Public transport plan draws huge interest

Agos highlighting issues related to SUKE.


THE Selangor Public Transport Masterplan (SPTM) has received plenty of feedback, and then some, when it was taken on a roadshow of sorts in three densely populated areas.

The comprehensive master plan is aimed at achieving a ratio of public transport to private transport use of 60:40 in the state by incorporating a highway network plan and current as well as future public transport network. It is also intended as a reference for the state and Federal governments as well as various other agencies and local authorities.

A draft of the plan was introduced over three days last week in briefings and dialogues held in Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya and Ampang Jaya.

While there were good suggestions from the people who attended the sessions, they were also quick to point the shortcomings.

Their biggest grouses were the inaccessibility to the full range of materials about the master plan and the lack of shaded walkways for commuters.

Subang Jaya

Instead of clearing the air on SPTM, the dialogue left residents’ representatives from Subang Jaya, Serdang, Puchong, Seri Kembangan and Putra Heights with more questions.

The briefing was conducted by third-party consultant MAG Technical and Development Consultant Sdn Bhdwhile representatives from Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, the state government and Selangor Economic Planning Unit (Upen) were present to answer questions from the residents.

SS15 resident Khairil Khalid, 26, pointed out that walkways were insufficient.

He said he walked from the Padang Jawa KTM station to a nearby university.

“The journey is less than half an hour and I am sure people will not mind walking if there was a proper shaded walkway.

“Proper walkways can help reduce the number of cars on the road,” he said.

He highlighted that densely populated areas such as Kajang, Puchong and Subang Jaya were not equipped with shaded walkways, making residents less reluctant to walk instead of driving their cars over a short distance or using public transport which would require them to walk from the rail station or bus stop to their destination.

Khairil asked about steps that would be taken to provide last-mile transport and ridership figures for public transport to justify the various proposed alignments.

Rapid KL chief executive officer Mohd Azam Omar agreed that while last-mile connectivity was important, it was dependent on coverage.

“Steps have been taken to improve coverage through other means, not just trains but also taxis. People tend to forget that taxis also count as public transport,” he said.

He cited the SMART Selangor and Selangorku buses as examples of efforts taken to connect the last mile.

Upen macro section and privatisation deputy director Mohd Yazid Sairi said the Selangorku buses serviced five areas — Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Kajang, Klang and Ampang Jaya — at a cost of RM12.5mil.

He added that the network would be expanded as there had been more requests for the free bus service.

During the dialogue, some residents said layman’s terms should be used to help everyone understand what was being spoken about. Others wanted a chance to study the draft so they could provide better feedback to the structural plan.

Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh said she would request the state government to make the documents available for public viewing online.

MPSJ councillor Capt Wan Hock Leong asked MAG Technical managing director Goh Bok Yen about the challenges when drawing up the plan and its impact on cost and ridership.

Goh replied that the company had been hired to ensure the State Structural Plan 2035 was sustainable.

“The plan is very comprehensive and gives development guidelines for the entire state.

“We need a good public transport system that is feasible to be implemented, sustainable and can balance the growth of rural and urban areas.

“In this plan, we made it clear that public transport is primary and highways are secondary,” he said.

However, to formulate a state public transport plan, Goh said the company also looked at the Greater Kuala Lumpur plan developed by Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

“That plan includes a 20km radius of Kuala Lumpur but Selangor stretches far beyond that. The plan does not mention new townships such as Rimbayu, Denai Alam and Kota Kemuning.

“So we expanded the plan to different areas and looked at missing links where we can optimise the network and be in line with SPAD’s plan,” he said.

He acknowledged that achieving the 60:40 ratio was an uphill task but it was not impossible. To begin with, Goh said the 60% target should be focused on peak hours.

“To do this, we need to change to mindsets, strategies and policies in order to discourage the use of private transport,” he said.

He suggested doing this by increasing the cost of using private transport.

Petaling Jaya

The public here were briefed by Investment, Industry (SME), Commerce and Transportation Committee chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim and Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain. The two, as well as Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian and Taman Medan assemblyman Haniza Talha, later fielded questions from attendees after Goh’s presentation.

One point of note in the presentation was a suggestion to use the cancelled Kinrara-Damansara Elevated Expressway (Kidex) alignment as a “people’s rapid transit,” with Goh explaining that the mode of transport -- be it bus, tram or rail -- had not been decided.

Teng said implementing the entire transport master plan would cost about RM62bil, which was beyond the state’s means.

“We will need to work together with the Federal Government on this, and hopefully it will put our findings to good use,” he said.

He also said that all relevant federal agencies had been briefed on the masterplan’s findings.

It was further revealed that MBPJ had allocated RM6.5mil this year for its free bus service.

“If other local authorities can do the same, I think we can improve the traffic situation tremendously,” said Teng.

“Hopefully Subang and Shah Alam can catch up soon,” he added, referring to the difference in council revenue which allowed Petaling Jaya to imnplement its own free bus service.

Despite the presentation’s focus on rail-based transport, the question-and-answer session saw many residents taking the city council and state government to task on road and highway related-issues.

These ranged from the long-standing closure of Jalan Tanjung in the Bandar Utama-Tropicana area, to the frequent flooding of the Tropicana PJU 3 tunnel.

Others also queried potential security worries when using public transport, to which both Teng and Azizi replied that currently, no personal security problems had arisen either in Petaling Jaya or with the other Selangor SmartBus services.

Some residents also took the city council to task on the one-way loop (OWL), citing the amount of construction and bottlenecks taking place.

Azizi replied that aside from the landscaping and road works being carried out by the council, the Federal Government’s PJ-North sewer upgrade project was alsoongoing.

“It is better to have the projects take place all at once because if they were one after another, the traffic jam and bottlenecks will be prolonged and city residents will suffer longer,” he explained, adding that the targetted date for the OWL’s completion was end August this year.

Another complaint from attendees at the briefing was the uneven quality of the presentation.

Former city councillor Mak Khuin Weng berated the organisers for not preparing handouts to allow many of the attendees, mainly senior citizens, to examine the proposal or the studies more closely.

“There is no documentation prepared, no actual avenue for us to give feedback,” Mak said.

Residents group Say No To SUKE (Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Expressway) chairman Agos Hassan Ashari also questioned the need for the highway in the Ulu Kelang area.

“During the presentation, the consultant pointed out a previous LRT line approved along the same alignment as SUKE, until it disappeared in the 2011 local plan draft.“Why backtrack?” he asked.

Ampang Jaya

Residents felt more attention should be given to expanding the public transportation masterplan to other residential areas.

Taman Melawati P1 Residents Association chairman Mohd Ali Abdul Karim pointed out that several areas were not mentioned in the presentation.

“Taman Melawati, Bukit Antarabangsa and Ukay Perdana are highly populated areas that should be taken into consideration,” he said.

In response, Goh said they would look into the matter.

“We will consider expanding the proposed MRT Circle Line 1 to loop further east to cover Taman Melawati. However, areas such as Bukit Antarabangsa could prove challenging because of the hilly terrain,” he said.

In his briefing, Goh said 12 major projects had been proposed to form the framework for the state’s public transportation plan.

Many in Ampang Jaya also voiced out the need for more detailed information on public transportation plans for the municipality.

Kampung Cheras Baru resident Samsuddin Abdul Ghani said, “They gave a comprehensive view for whole of Selangor but we need to know plans for this area specifically.

“There were only several mentions of a train system here but details on where they connect and intersect is important as well.”

Agos also raised the issue of three new highways in Ampang Jaya.

“SUKE is parallel to the Circle Line 1, so why not scrap the highway project altogether?

“How does this support the state’s plan for a 60% public transportation usage system?” he questioned.

The proposed Circle Line 1 will stretch through Ampang, Setiawangsa, Sentul, Bukit Damansara and Cheras.

Teratai assemblyman Tiew Way Keng said all the suggestions from the residents would be conveyed officially to the consultants.

“The residents raised valid points during the session. The next step will be documenting these comments so that the state will have a record of what the public has to say about the plans,” she added.

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