TRANSIT notes this story in the Star which shows that the new Penang Hill Railway coaches have arrived in Penang.
The total redesign of the Penang Hill Railway undertaken by the Tourism Ministry courted significant controversy because of the changes to the original design of the railway, including the removal of the middle station.
GEORGE TOWN: The new Swiss-made coaches for the Penang Hill funicular train service have arrived.
The two coaches, each weighing 16 tonnes and measuring 16m in length, were unloaded at the foot of the hill after arriving here at 1am yesterday from Port Klang.
Penang Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said the coaches, with five compartments each, would be put on the tracks for a trial run once the RM63mil upgrading of the funicular system was completed in November.
“The modern coaches will still have the wooden benches, which shows that we are still keeping the heritage value intact,” he said when met at the foot of Penang Hill yesterday.
TRANSIT: Sounds to us like they just didn’t want to pay for the cost of cushions.
He added that the upgrading was originally scheduled for completion in September but had been delayed as the contractors needed more time to strengthen the tracks’ foundation and slopes.
On Feb 22, the 87-year-old funicular train service ceased operations to make way for the RM63mil upgrading project by the Tourism Ministry.
The new air-conditioned coaches, which can carry 50 people each, will travel non-stop between the foot of the hill and the top station under the upgraded system unlike the old system where passengers have to change trains at the middle station.
Lim said the commuting time of the new service would be less than 10 minutes per way compared to 30 minutes previously.
He said the new service would be able to carry 1,000 passengers per hour compared to 250 under the old system.
He said the coaches would be able to glide down at a slower speed to the lower station should there be any technical glitch or power supply disruption.
Lim said there would also be a sensor system to enable early detection of landslides or trees falling onto the rail tracks as well as a stand-by generator to provide power should there be electricity supply disruption.
We are interested to see how the new Penang Hill Railway will operate. Hopefully the tests will go well and the service will go back on line in October 2010 or sooner. For pictures of the old Penang Hill Railway, please see our posting
TRANSIT was pleasantly surprised to note that the KTM Electric Train Service (ETS) began operations on 11 August 2010. This was “a day ahead of schedule” (from one perspective), as compared to a long-awaited and long delayed service (from another perspective).
As you can imagine, we at TRANSIT have been following the news and the forums to do our best to get you the information that you need about the ETS service. So here you go, from photos to articles to information.
For those of you who are bookmarking, the website for ETS is www.ets-train.com.my and we will include this link in our list of weblinks.
Kuala Lumpur Railway station (and ETS HQ) – Main Lobby – +603 2272-3392
Kuala Lumpur Sentral – Level 2 – +603 2272 3392
Ipoh Railway Station – Main Lobby – +605 254 0481
Seremban Railway Station – Lobby – +606 781 4421
Cafe Car and trolley service
LED televisions at both ends of each carriage
Disabled friendly toilets and priority seating for OKU
Interior CCTV system for all coaches
Power socket (one for each seat row of 2 passengers)
TRANSIT is pleased to announce that KTM Komuter service to Batu Caves (finally) began operations on 29 July 2010.
The extension of service is made possible by the double tracking & electrification of the line from Sentul to Batu Caves. The new stations have been built with full canopy roof, accessible features such as lifts, ramps, toilets, tac-tile markings, etc.
We at TRANSIT hope that the opening of the new KTM Komuter service will mark the real beginning of a turnaround for KTMB!
Your feedback, comments and photos of the new extension are welcome!
For photos of the line in action, please visit this link. All images in the post are courtesy of @TWK90.
TRANSIT also notes that the Ministry of Transport may be (once again) looking into further extension of the line beyond Batu Caves to Selayang. TRANSIT recalls that this was also mentioned by an earlier Transport Minister, Chan Kong Choy, back when the double tracking was launched.
The line actually does extend beyond Batu Caves station to the YTL Cement yards on the other side of the Batu Caves. However, a further extension along this route may be unlikely due to the built-up nature of the area.
An alternative might be to continue to extend the line along Jalan Ipoh – meaning that the Batu Caves section would function as a spur line – of course, this is far in the future.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Transport Ministry will study the proposal to extend the new Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM Bhd) Komuter Service between Sentul and Batu Caves, to Selayang.
Its minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the ministry would monitor the effectiveness of the new route and feedback from the public before making a decision.
He said this to reporters after launching the KTM Komuter service between Sentul and Batu Caves covering 7.5 km, at the Batu Caves commuter station yesterday.
On the Sentul-Batu Caves KTM Komuter route costing RM528 million, Kong said it would raise the number of passengers to 10,000 daily as Batu Caves was a tourist attraction.
“The opening of the new route will facilitate users and tourists to Batu Caves because an average of 80,000 Hindus and tourists flock to the famous Hindu temple each year,” he said.
With the new route, the KTM Komuter service starting at the Port Klang station in Selangor would now have five new stations namely Sentul, Batu Kantonmen, Kg Batu, Taman Wahyu before ending at Batu Caves, he added. — Bernama
It is nice to see the double tracking and extension of the KTM Komuter service open and operating. This line will make a huge difference to inner city rail service because it will help provide public transport users in the northern areas of KL with quicker access to the city centre as well as the other KTM Komuter lines.
It is too bad that we have not figured out how to integrate public transport services in Malaysia to encourage feeder bus services and integration between KTM and LRT and bus operations. If that were to happen, we could expand the number of people going to KL by train and reduce the number using cars or buses.
TRANSIT hopes that the KTM Komuter extension to Batu Caves will shift our thinking of KTM Komuter from the slow and unpopular service that it is, to a fast, reliable “metro-like” service for Kuala Lumpur – at least, in the inner city and surburban areas.
Update: TRANSIT notes that Anthony Thanasayan will return as a councillor for MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council). We wish to extend our congratulations to Anthony and to all councillors who have returned to serve.
TRANSIT notes this column from activist Anthony Thanasayan, commenting on improvements to accessibility and universal design in some sections of Petaling Jaya, comparing the PJ that he lives in now with the PJ that he grew up in.
THIS is it, folks: the end of the road for me as councillor of Petaling Jaya (MBPJ). I have been told that the positions of all local councillors in the state will cease to exist next Tuesday.
A new list of councillors, comprising old and new faces, will be sworn in on Wednesday. And they will carry out their duties for the next 12 months.
At the time of writing this article, I do not know if I will be in or out of that list.
All I can tell you is that the experience of serving the people of Petaling Jaya in Selangor has been a challenging task for me.
It was exactly on this day today, two years ago, when the council’s wheelchair-friendly van arrived at my home to take me to the swearing-in ceremony. I recall even pinching myself several times during the journey to convince myself that it was not a dream.
There was good reason for my cynicism. Here was a local council that I had serious issues with for nearly all of my life. It had virtually ignored all of my special needs as a boy in a wheelchair.
I was forced to stay indoors because the city – which was a town then – had totally disregarded my basic needs in its infrastructure.
As a result, I couldn’t go to school, or play with my friends in the neighbourhood. I couldn’t even visit the park that was only a stone’s throw away from my house because the PJ town council obviously thought that someone like me didn’t exist. Or worse, wasn’t worth the effort.
(Unfortunately that is still the sad state of affairs with many of the other local councils, not only in Selangor, but across the nation).
The pavements were too high for my wheelchair, the park’s entrances were too narrow, and the toilets were inaccessible.
Today, PJ is a lot more wheelchair-friendly. The park near my house now has an entrance that is accessible to wheelchairs and prams. There is a clever design in the shape of a U-turn that keeps out motorcycles.
Another notable improvement was the universal-designed pavement of about 500m along Jalan Gasing.
Such projects opened the floodgates for a special group of people who have been marginalised by society in the way we plan our towns and cities.
Elderly residents aided by their caregivers are now able to access the park in their wheelchairs and walking sticks for some exercise and fresh air.
Mothers with prams, the blind and even children can now walk safely to the nearby shops, a church, a temple and a public park that the special pavement covers.
Some people (who weren’t elderly or disabled) complained that it was a waste of money and effort. The changes in the park also drew a similar reaction.
They obviously were not aware of the increasing number of disabled people in the country. They failed to see that in the next generation, there will be more senior citizens than children, and that our nation would have an aging population. Disability would be a key consideration among this elderly group.
So now is the opportune time to start building a city in anticipation of the needs of an aging population.
Recently, the MBPJ Planning Department undertook a commendable task.
They decided to go to the homes of the disabled and the elderly in the poorest parts of PJ, to offer them assistance.
In the middle of next month, a special team will be knocking on the doors of these homes to see in what area they need help.
They will be given assistance to register with the relevant bodies at the local and federal levels for financial aid. Those requiring medical treatment will also get the assistance they need.
For the bedridden, wheelchairs will be provided. Renovations to their toilets will be done at MBPJ’s expense to make them disabled-friendly.
Thank you to Anthony for sharing your experience of growing up disabled in Petaling Jaya. We hope that the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council will continue their efforts to improve Petaling Jaya as well as to educate people about universal design and better communities.
KUALA LUMPUR: Construction on the elevated and covered pedestrian walkways, which will connect some light-rail and monorail stations (LRT) in the city, are expected to start soon and will be completed by year-end.
The LRT stations are Plaza Rakyat, Sultan Ismail, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Bandaraya and Pasar Seni, and the Hang Tuah monorail station.
City Hall road transport department director Dr Leong Siew Mun said Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, which runs the light rail services, had already appointed the contractors for the project which involves an integrated network system of linking pedestrian walkways to LRT and monorail stations.
“The elevated and covered walkways will connect the stations at Plaza Rakyat to the Cahaya Suria Building in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock; PWTC to Putra bus station; Sultan Ismail to Medan Tuanku monorail station; and Bandaraya to City Hall headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut, and Hang Tuah monorail station to Masjid Al-Bukhary,” he said in presentation at the KL Draft Plan 2020 workshop yesterday.
The walkways provide convenience and connectivity and is in line with the safe city concept.
The project is part of the Federal government’s plan to have an extensive network of pedestrian walkways built by private developers so that all buildings in the city centre would be connected in the future.
Leong also said Petronas had proposed a pedestrian bridge from Hotel Impiana KLCC to Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre including Impiana KLCC to Menara Perak; Kompleks Dayabumi; TA Properties to Matic; and the Ampang Park LRT station to Masjid As-Syakirin KLCC.
Draft plan consultant, AJM Planning and Urban Design Group Sdn Bhd’s managing director Norliza Hashim said a total of 143km interconnected pedestrian network would be achieved in the city centre by 2020.
She said the pedestrian network would be categorised into six groups, namely, the major spine which is from Dataran Merdeka to the Chow Kit monorail station (2.5km), primary pedestrian routes, secondary pedestrian routes, tertiary pedestrian routes, riverside corridor and the heritage trail.
Norliza also pointed out the problems faced by local authorities after the projects were completed including poor maintenance, design failure, poor lighting, and lack of shady trees and security.
The two-day workshop, which ended yesterday, was aimed at explaining the draft plan to residents’ associations.
Among the issues brought up were open spaces, petty traders and hawkers, and landscape and public park maintenance.
We find the proposal for walkways to be relatively interesting and in some cases, quite unnecessary.
At the same time, having been stuck in the rain on more than one occasion while waiting for an extra-long traffic light, we have often wished that we could just cross the intersection easily.
Pedestrian walkways are not necessarily pedestrian-friendly. In fact, they are more of a protective action than anything else. In a way, you could say that they are similar to putting air bags in a car but giving the driver no training to drive properly.
It would be nice if walkways were not needed and the streets were just pedestrian friendly – wide pavements that are unblocked, with proper line of sight and clear signage.
So while we are pleased to know that the walkways are being built, we would rather see more attention being paid to making the pedestrian environment of KL that much more friendly and welcoming.
There are some attractive, walkable areas in KL, but these are literally few, and far-between.
But KL-ites and tourists do keep on walking – and they should be commended for doing so.
LATEST NOTE: Since the MRT project is now part of the Economic Transformation Programme, we will continue to update information about the MRT project through our posting on the Economic Transformation Programme entitled ETP Analysis: The MRT Proposal.
Updated with poll!
Updated with additional drawings!
Updated with articles!
This posting may be one of the longest that we have made in recent years, but we feel that it is necessary to get all stakeholders to sit down and look at public transport in an holistic manner.
As such, TRANSIT needs your feedback on these rail proposals – that means, detailed observations, comments, ideas, etc. We want to break our records in terms of the number of people who view and comment on this page.
Also, we want you to tell your friends, neighbours, and wakil rakyat to visit this page and give their comments as well.
TRANSIT notes this article in the NST, which states that the old JB train station will become a train museum once train services are transferred to the new JB Sentral complex at the end of July 2010. It is expected that the museum would open in the last quarter of 2010.
The 80-year-old Johor Baru train station will call it a day by the end of next month when it will be turned into a train museum, the largest of its kind in the country.
Once the station is closed, all train operations here will be shifted to JB Sentral, a stone’s throw away, which is the transport hub in the city centre.
Preparation and renovation works will pave the way for the opening of the museum, scheduled for the last quarter of the year.
Visitors will see old and rare railway exhibits.
Among them will be the token and signal systems, log books, seats, as well as uniforms of railway workers used from the day Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd started operations.
KTMB southern region manager Tariq Umar Mohamed said this will be the second museum of its kind after the Kuala Lumpur station, which opened to the public in 2006, and occupies the space of two rooms. “However, the Johor Baru train museum will occupy the whole complex and feature more exhibits. It is set to become a new tourist attraction in the city centre,” he said.
Tariq said the museum was KTMB’s idea, adding that the building will have a cafeteria for the convenience of visitors .
The existing Johor Baru station, at Jalan Tun Razak, was built in 1931 at a cost of RM75,900 by Swan & Mac Larden, which also built the Johor Baru South police station and the Johor Baru courthouse.
Prior to that, from 1917, all the train services operated from a small wooden building near the station.
The architectural design of the double-storey station is colonial in style. In the early days, guest rooms were on the top floor.
“Today, they are used for administrative purposes.
The Johor Baru station is the last stop before Singapore. Its nearest station to the north is at the Danga City Mall, 2km away.
Sometimes it is sad to see changes – but we hope that this change will be a very positive one for KTMB.
The old JB station is well-located, at the east end of the small ‘town centre’ of Johor Baru. Unfortunately, the design of the carpark isolates it from the street and discourages people from walking in.
If the building is to be successful as a museum, the best solution is to remove the train tracks behind the station and turn that area into a car park, and reconnect the station area with Jalan Tun Razak in front.
TRANSIT notes that many changes have already taken place to place KTMB on track to a better future – and at the same time, we must remember the KTMB of the past and learn from the experience of building railways, providing connections and links between communities and even countries.
TRANSIT hopes that the old KTM station at Tanjung Pagar, which is to be kept as part of any future development, could be used to house an expanded Joint Land Transport Gallery that showcases the strong transport connections between Malaysia and Singapore – reminding us that these two countries are, and will always be, friends and neighbours.
On 17 May 2010 the City of London unveiled the ‘Routemaster 2.0’ a new version of the iconic ‘Routemaster’ double-decker bus.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who is the Chair of Transport for London (the quasi-government organizing & ownership authority for transport in London), proposed a new ‘Routemaster’ design as part of his election campaign, and followed up with a design contest that received the attention of many famous architects & designers.
The new designs, the work of Thomas Heatherwick and Wrightbus, will appear on London roads in 2012, just in time for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
More details about the bus can be found in the video below:
Although we do not agree with Mayor of London Boris Johnson that the articulated or “bendy” bus is problematic on London roads, we cannot help but express our joy at any city that takes public transport as seriously as London does.
The Routemaster 2.0 is an interesting design and we cannot wait to see the buses on London’s streets.
TRANSIT took note of this article, describing the new Bas Iskandar Malaysia service on 16 routes, introduced in the Iskandar Development Region of Johor.
Unlike many other parts of Malaysia where cities and suburbs grow faster than the transport networks that will support and sustain them, the Iskandar Development Region is being planned differently.
In Iskandar, the transport networks are being planned out first, and the city built afterwards in response to those plans.
More importantly, Bus Iskandar Malaysia represents a step forward for public transport – an Organizing Authority (Pasukan Pengangkutan Awam Iskandar Malaysia) working with different government agencies and private companies to provide an organized, effective, public transport service.
JOHOR BARU: People living within Iskandar Malaysia can now enjoy improved accessibility and mobility with an additional 34 buses that will ply 16 routes, which were previously not serviced.
The buses, known as Bus Iskandar Malaysia, are part of the initiatives implemented under the Iskandar Malaysia Transportation Masterplan.
The buses will service areas like Larkin, Tampoi, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Bukit Indah, Gelang Patah, Skudai, Sri Alam, Johor Jaya, Pasir Gudang, Masai, Kota Iskandar, Ulu Tiram, Danga Bay, Taman Senai Jaya and Felda Ulu Tebrau.
Iskandar Malaysia Transport Steering committee (IMTSC) chairman Datuk Abdul Latiff Yusof said the buses would be fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) devide and Close Circuit Television (CCTV) to enable the bus operators to monitor the buses and the routes they service.
“The information gathered from the systems will be fed into monitoring centres stationed at each bus depot,” he said.
He added that these monitoring centres would be tasked to analyse the data and use the information gathered to further improve the services provided and to iron out any gaps.
Abdul Latiff said all bus operators involved were guided by a Safety and Environmental Code of Practice to ensure efficiency in management, quality service and safety of commuters.
Currently, more enhancements are being reviewed to further improve the bus service.
“We are also looking at other supporting initiatives such as programmes to develop public transport operators and drivers competency and also introduce maintenance culture for public services vehicles as well as terminals and bus stops.
This will be benchmarked against best practices in the region, Abdul Latiff said.
Spearheaded by IMTSC and Pasukan Pengangkutan Awam Iskandar Malaysia (PIAM), the initiative is implemented with the collaboration of the Johor Economic Planning Unit, five local councils, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), police, Road Transport Department and other agencies.
Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman launched the event at the Kota Iskandar terminal recently.
The Star welcomes feedback from the public on the Bus Iskandars services. Feedback can be e-mailed to email@example.com.
The whole idea of bus service in the Iskandar Development Region is an interesting one because it represents a concept of public transport – as a service, not an entrepreneurial exercise – that we have not really seen in Malaysia for a long time.
What makes Bus Iskandar Malaysia different is that:
The Bus Iskandar Malaysia service is a joint venture of the government, Iskandar Regional Development Authority, Pasukan Pengangkutan Awam Iskandar Malaysia and various bus operators.
The private operators (Syarikat Pengangkutan Maju Berhad, Handal Indah Sdn. Bhd. and Syarikat Kenderaan S&S Sdn. Bhd.) compete to gain contracts from Iskandar Regional Development Authority to service different routes, instead of competing on the same routes – this is how privately-operated public transport should work!
They emphasize service on “social routes”
They provide a colourful, interesting flyer and booklet with detailed information including schedules, fare tables and route maps for all 16 routes – for the public transport user, information means power + freedom + mobility!
The sad weakness of the service is the buses themselves – they are built on highway bus chassis and have numerous steps – making them less accessible for the less mobile, and inaccessible for those on wheelchairs.
TRANSIT hopes that future buses in the region will use the standards for low-floor and non-step buses currently being developed by the Ministry of Transport for city buses.
TRANSIT was invited to visit the Bandar Tasik Selatan terminal to help local accessibility organizations Mobiliti, Beautiful Gate and BEAT-KL (Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transportation) review the facilities of the Bandar Tasik Selatan terminal
Unfortunately, no one from TRANSIT was able to attend due to unforeseeable circumstances (and at the last minute, too).
We seem to have missed a great opportunity to photograph the interior of the terminal and report on the facilities – but we promise that we will be asking the people at Mobiliti, Beautiful Gate and BEAT-KL to report on the experience for us!
In the meantime, enjoy this article, which quotes the Minister of Transport as saying that the Bandar Tasik Selatan Terminal may be ready by middle of this year!
KUALA LUMPUR: The Southern Integrated Transportation Terminal in Bandar Tasik Selatan could be ready by July, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat. He said the developer hinted that there could be an early completion for the project by middle this year. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in November this year.
“The terminal will cater to all types of transportation. We will have the bus services, taxi and rail services including the light rail transit, Keretapi Tanah Melayu’s commuter train service and Express Rail Link under one roof.
“This terminal is also connected to the Sungai Besi Highway, Kuala Lumpur Seremban Highway, and the Middle Ring Road II,” he told newsmen after visiting the project site in Bandar Tasik Selatan here Monday.
The RM570mil terminal is located on 19.8ha site adjacent to the Tasik Selatan’s LRT station and the Tasik Selatan KTM Komuter station. It has a handling capacity of about 40,000 passengers a day.
It will handle all express buses serving the southern part of Peninsula Malaysia. Ong said the terminal would help divert express buses from the city and ease traffic congestion in the process.
“The southern sector receives nearly 550 departures and arrivals in a day. There are more than 170 movements in an hour during peak hours,” he said.
Ong said the comfort level for passengers was similar to an airport terminal.
“There is 2.8 square metre per person in the terminal whereas in an airport, there is 2.3 square metre per person,” he explained.
Ong added he was optimistic the terminal and other measures such as the streamlining of bus stops, increasing the number of carriages for the LRTs as well as the impending introduction of new rail services would increase the use of public transport in the city from 16% to 25% by 2012.
When asked if the terminal would eventually take over the south bound express buses in Puduraya, Ong replied that it would be under the jurisdiction of the Federal Territories Minister to redesignate the movement of the buses.
[TRANSIT: This is a bit of a surprise – why would it be under the Jurisdiction of the Federal Territories Minister? Unless, perhaps the FT Minister has a role in the Land Public Transport Commission, (SPAD)???]
However, he said all south bound public transport services would be centred at the new terminal.
The terminal is equipped with ICT facilities and is disabled friendly. There will be 100 bus waiting bays, 21 departure bays and 18 arrival bays which has the capacity of 130 departures and arrivals in an hour.
[TRANSIT: We promise a complete and detailed briefing about the terminal & facilities when we get the info.]
It will also have 16 bus platforms for city routes, 100 bus parking bays, 150 taxi bays and 1,000 public parking bays.
We would have really loved to attend the visit to the terminal today. Hopefully, we will be able to arrange another visit. In the meantime, take a look for the above article in the Star newspaper on Tuesday.