Start from basics to boost JB public transport
It is very confusing that Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai and Johor Baru mayor Abdul Rahman Mohamed Dewam have both revealed very different visions of the public transport system for the city in just one week.
On Feb 1, Liow told the public in a dinner held in Johor Baru that the Transport Ministry is now reviewing the proposal by Masteel and KUB on building a Light Rapid Transit system for Malaysia.
On the other hand, we also have our Johor Baru mayor Abdul Rahman, who suggested installing a tram service within the city centre.
These two systems do not contradict each other but rather cater to different demands of commuting. However, we must not forget that we also have the Rapid Transit bus and Komuter system in the Iskandar Malaysia Transportation Blueprint.
I totally agree with Liow’s statement that our rail infrastructure has yet to be fully utilised, hence we need more investments. We have more than 100km of existing railway track, which connects from the north of Iskandar Malaysia to the Johor Baru city centre and also from the West to the East, connecting the two ports. However, all of it is currently underutilised.
To ensure that we fully utilise the potential of the rail service, Liow must first help improve the management of KTMB. Since the Iskandar Malaysia Transportation Blueprint has already set a target to implement Rapid Transit bus and KTM rail services, the transport minister should assist or even speed up the pace of the implementation. He should not take up more fancy mega projects that are mostly vendor-driven while the basic project is yet to be done.
Hence, Liow should make sure that the Gemas-JB double-track project is to be done as fast as possible. Besides that, he should also talk to the Land Transport Commission (Spad) and other transportation-related departments since the latter are the real masterminds in the public transportation sector. We must not take up another fancy project just because the private sector wants to have another contract from government.
Public transport is a public domain and the government should not be letting the private sector to conceptualise how to design a comprehensive public transport system. Start from basics instead of taking up fancy mega projects to improve the greater Johor Baru public transport system.
WONG SHU QI is Johor DAP policy director and Senai state assemblyperson.