I refer to news reports that the new contract for the LRT 3 connecting Klang to Bandar Utama has been signed. After carefully scrutinising the new contract details and reading explanations from the transport ministry, I need to raise serious concerns on the downscaling on the LRT 3.
Lower capacity, lower frequency
Instead of 44 sets of trains with six cars each, the project will now be getting only 22 sets of trains with three cars each. This is really an absurd move. Not only the three cars reduce the original planned capacity by half but the headway frequency during peak hours will be six minutes! This is three times longer than the average headway for Kelana Jaya line which is two minutes during peak hours. Plus the station platform size will be reduced. Can the narrow platform accommodate that many people? Six minutes during peak hours is just bad. This will affect people confidence in public transport service.
In fact, anything more than four minutes headway during peak hours is not a metro style system but rather a commuter style system. Have our ministers taken the six cars trains on the Sri Petaling LRT line or the four cars on the KJ Line and see how cramped it is during peak hours?
Plus if there are supposedly more demand in the future, the finance minister said then only more money will be spent. But won't it be more expensive to buy more trains then since production costs may go up and it takes two to four years to order and build new train units?
The extension of completion date for another 4 years instead of 2020 to 2024 is another silly move. Is Malaysia that poor that we have to save money by extending construction timeline and cause more inconvenience to residents living near the project? What is the government planning to do about the massive traffic congestion caused by the LRT 3 works in Klang and Glenmarie.
I pity Klang residents who have to endure another four years of dust, noise and congestion. By completing the project earlier, revenue can be also collected earlier. That's another four years of wasted revenue that can be collected from fare and commercial aspects.
Reduction in park and ride spots
The massive reduction from 6,000 parking spots to only 2,300 spots is another concern. Why are we repeating the same mistakes over and over again? By 2024, many new developments in Klang, Glenmarie and PJ will be completed. Take the Glenmarie LRT Station for example. There is limited parking spots and people have to park 700 metres away at undesignated spots to take the LRT Kelana Jaya line.
If let's say they decide to build more parking spots after 2024, again cost of construction will go up. Why not just build more parking spots now or just maintain the initial 6,000 parking spots? After all revenue can be collected from parking or Prasarana can even rent some unused spots for commercial purposes.
I have yet to find any details on feeder buses. If there is massive reduction in parking spots will there be more feeder buses instead? Or is there a reduction in feeder buses too? With the lack of parking spots and feeder buses how are people supposed to go to the stations? Or will some of the RM15 billion saved be used to build more pedestrian bridges?
The Pakatan Harapan government must understand public transport development can't be sacrificed. The LRT 3 route is critical as it is connected to LRT Kelana Jaya line which is the busiest train line in Malaysia and the MRT SBK line, the backbone of Klang Valley rail system. Plus from 2022 onwards the MRT SBK line and Kelana Jaya LRT line will carry more passengers when the MRT SSP line operates.
Can the small cramped 3 cars trains for LRT 3 really handle the crowd? Even the Kelana Jaya line 2 cars are slowly being modified to 4 cars now. The main reason for the downsizing and cost reduction for LRT 3 is because there might not be many projected ridership. I would like to know the exact results of the alleged study the new government did. Why is the result not made public? Which agency did the forecast study?
The MRT SBK line has now seen an increased in ridership after almost 2 years in operation. Even its wide 4 car trains are already cramped during peak hours. I suggest our politicians take a ride at the Pasar Seni station at 6pm to see for themselves.
I agree that some stations can be shelved along the LRT 3 route but reducing critical aspects such as station size, train cars size, frequencies and parking spots with not proper feeder bus system is a recipe for disaster when the LRT 3 operates in 2024.
I urge Prasarana to not be a yes man. Prasarana should have been more firm in making sure public transport service is always up to par. Prasarana’s reputation and image will be affected if they operate the LRT 3 in 2024 with all the initial planned features cut out.