Forget LRT, utilise KTM Komuter

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

As a regular user and supporter of public transportation, I am usually happy to hear about any proposals to improve public transportation. But the proposed LRT link between Subang Jaya and Klang did not make me happy.

While I applaud Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo for remaining committed to the LRT proposal, I have to wonder what the state will be giving up in pursuing its ‘LRT dream’.

The menteri besar states that the LRT service would provide a backbone for public transportation in the state. I would like to humbly remind the menteri besar that Selangor already has a rail service that is the backbone for travel between KL and Klang and this is the KTM Komuter network. Why is the menteri besar so ready to develop new infrastructure, instead of improving on a system that works well?

The menteri besar states that the LRT service is ‘fast, efficient, and comfortable’ and meets the needs of the modern day. Many people would say that the KTM Komuter is not ‘fast, efficient, or comfortable,’ especially when compared to the LRT. I would agree with their comments, but I would point out that KTM Komuter has the potential to be fast, efficient and comfortable if there were more carriages and improvements to the railway infrastructure.

The KTM Komuter service has many advantages over LRT. Firstly, the KTM Komuter service already exists to serve Selangor. It already links KL and Klang, while the LRT is just an idea under planning. Secondly, the KTM Komuter has larger trains, and larger platforms. Thirdly, the KTM Komuter can be expanded far faster than the LRT can be built. To expand KTM Komuter is a simple matter of buying more train-sets and expanding the platforms when necessary. LRT is far more complicated and far more costly.

There is no reason why the KTM Komuter service should be ignored in favour of LRT, except in heavily urbanised and built-up areas like Kuala Lumpur.

That is why I would ask the menteri besar and the Selangor government to change their focus and devote some of their money to the KTM service. Give KTMB the money to repair and overhaul their existing fleet of trains, to repair the rails, to address flooding problems at Batu Tiga and to buy newer and more modern trains to improve service frequencies.

I am confident that these measures would cost far less than the proposed LRT, and we would see vast improvements in public transportation, long before any LRT would get on track.