ALL ABOARD

Malaysia 2016 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Building an integrated world-class public transportation system is at the heart of Malaysia's development plans.

In the recently unveiled 11th Malaysia Plan, the last phase of Malaysia's five-year development planning toward Vision 2020, improving the country's public transportation system was highlighted as one of the key priorities. With 75% of the population expected to be living in cities by that date, improving urban public transportation is a critical priority. The government announced it would be investing in rural, rural-urban, urban, and intercity transport modes to tackle congestion and pollution, as well as reduce the dependency on private transportation.

Currently, greater Kuala Lumpur is serviced by a comprehensive rail network, which includes two Light Rapid Transit (LRT) lines, a monorail, two commuter rail lines, and an airport rail link. A fleet of 1,420 Rapid KL buses is distributed between Klang Valley, Penang and Kuantan. On-going developments include a third LRT line running 36km through 25 stations. The project is yet to be awarded to one of the six shortlisted groups that have been shortlisted for the role of Project Delivery Partner; construction for the LRT 3 will commence in 2016 and aims to be completed in 2020. The Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Line 1, spanning 51km and servicing 31 stations, is expected to see a daily passenger count of 400,000 once fully operational in 2017, whilst construction works for the KVMRT Line 2 will begin next year and continue into 2022. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an initiative under the Urban Public Transport National Key Results Area (NKRA) of the Government's Transformation Programme and will be launched on June 1, 2015, making this 5.4km project the first elevated BRT in South-East Asia.

Beyond the capital, the government has invested in a number of highway projects to ease congestion such as the Pan-Borneo Highway, a $4.1 billion project due for completion in 2020 and meant to improve connectivity between Sabah and Sarawak, or the West Coast Expressway, expected to be completed in 2019, connecting the state of Perak to Selangor on the West coast of peninsular Malaysia. However, the bulk of adequate public road transportation remains concentrated within the country's major cities. To address this, bus coverage and routes around rural areas will be extended under the Stage Bus Transformation Programme, benefiting smaller cities of Seremban, Kuchng, Kangar, Ipoh and Kota Terenagganu. In aviation, the government expects an increase in aircraft movement at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) from a current 68 aircrafts an hour to 108 to complement a new Air Traffic Control Centre at KLIA that will improve safety and efficiency. The main airports at Kedah (Langkawi International Airport) and Kelantan (Sultan Ismail Petra) will also receive upgrades in light of a higher number of passengers.

The National Land Public Transport Master Plan has stated as its objective the achieving of a 30% modal share of public transport by 2020 and 40% by 2030, up from around 25% in 2015. This shows not only a commitment to addressing concerns about the environment or the cost of living, but also a realization of the importance of transport infrastructure in attracting foreign direct investment. InvestKL, the government agency charged with facilitating investments into greater Kuala Lumpur, has highlighted as a necessary factor in making the capital an attractive destination for companies seeking to establish regional headquarters in South-East Asia. “This has become extremely important. We have become a hub city connected with the other hubs through highways and public transportation. It is important from both a business and liveability standpoint,” according to Datuk Zainal Amanshah, CEO of InvestKL.

Malaysia is also keen to export its expertise in operating public transportation abroad. Prasarana Negara, the state public transport company, is actively expanding its operations overseas, and recently signed a three-year $210 million contract with the government of Saudi Arabia to run the Arafah-Mina Metro rail system during the Hajj season. This is expected to service around 100,000 passengers in total.
This marks the second international metro contract acquired by Prasarana in a period of six months, following its successful bid to provide consultancy services for construction of the Mecca metro project. The ventures, and others it is eyeing, will allow the organization to diversify its revenue streams and later apply its international experience when carrying out domestic projects.