ANOTHER phase of the light rail transit (LRT) has been launched, which is expected to be completed by Merdeka Day of 2020. LRT3 extending from Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, to Johan Setia, Klang — all 37km of rail and 26 stations — will further enhance Greater Kuala Lumpur’s integrated public transport system. Serving some two million people, it would provide connectivity for the western corridor of the Klang Valley. Just recently, the LRT eastward extension from Putra Heights to Gombak began operations, giving a new feel to suburbia. It achieved a spectacular face-lift, changing mundane, densely-populated commuter suburbs into millennial townships where modern conveniences like public transport can be taken for granted. Taking suburban dwellers straight to the heart of Kuala Lumpur, in Greater Kuala Lumpur at least, Klang Valley feels like a true metropolis.
In many comparable cities of the developing world, metropolises are deemed such only because of its teeming millions. Although undeniably large, replete with commercial centres and tower blocks, these cities’ economic efficiency is hampered by endless traffic congestion. Kuala Lumpur, with its fast-integrating public transport network — the LRT, Go KL free bus service, Sunway Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the LRT Extension Project and the soon to be operational Mass Rapid Transit Line 1 (MRT1) — looks set to leave that scenario behind sooner rather than later. Additionally, with affordable fares and discount travel — some last-mile bus connectivity are even free — Klang Valley looks set for further economic progress. Predictable travel time into and out of the city cannot but make Kuala Lumpur, especially, and Malaysia, generally, an attractive investment destination. The people, too, are better served for leisure activities. Senior citizens and children aged below 7 travel free on the LRT, allowing for sojourns into the city every time excitement beckons. Comfortable rides take travellers straight to KL Sentral and also KLCC. Naturally, tourists will find exploring Greater Kuala Lumpur easy, thus opening up options for business locations further afield. That the LRT3 reaches Klang is indication enough of how expeditious it is for tourism. Tours can encompass the entire expanse of the Klang Valley, from Malaysia’s theme park in Genting Highlands to the old palaces of Klang and the town’s rich history.
Of course, the primary intention of building the LRT and its extensions is to make travelling to and from work a simple and comfortable affair. This will most definitely be achieved. Even if there is resistance, it will be a brief transition. Going by the existing LRT service, where short waits are the norm, especially at peak hours, what is there not to like? The only possible spoiler would be unaffordable fares, but given much of the integrated network comes under Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, all it takes is commitment on the part of Putrajaya to solve the issue. Kuala Lumpur then is on the threshold of arriving at a national destination long aspired for. As the gateway to an open economy, it becomes increasingly more user-friendly. Let not mediocrity then get in the way of progress.
Source : New Straits Times Online