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Public transitalso called public transportation and mass transit includes various services that provide mobility to the general public in shared vehicles, ranging from shared taxis and shuttle vans, to local and intercity buses and passenger rail.

Public transport in Kuala Lumpur

Public transport in Kuala Lumpur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During most of the last century automobile use (here “automobile” includes cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs and motorcycles) grew while public transit experienced a downward spiral of declining ridership, investment, and service quality, and more automobile oriented land use development.

Critics argue that outside a few major cities there is little reason to expand transit service or encourage transit use (Cox 2000; Orski 2000; Balaker 2004), but current trends are increasing public transit’s importance (Litman 2006; Puentes 2008).

Most communities now have well-developed automobile transport systems. Increasing automobile dependence creates a variety of problems, many of which public transit can help solve.

Transit tends to be most effective in dense urban areas where automobile problems are greatest. As a result, when all impacts are considered, transit is often the most cost-effective way to improve transportation.

Transit becomes more important as cities grow.

In smaller cities transit primarily serves transportation disadvantagedriders (people cannot use an automobile), typically representing 5-10% of the population, but as cities grow in size and density transit serves more discretionary riders (people who have the option of driving), and so provides more benefits by reducing traffic problems and supporting more efficient land use patterns.

This does not mean that automobile travel will disappear and all travel will shift to public transit.

However, at the margin (i.e., compared with their current travel patterns) many motorists would prefer to drive somewhat less and use alternatives more, provided they are convenient, comfortable and affordable. Satisfying this growing demand for alternative modes can provide a variety of benefits. When all impacts are considered, improving public transit is often the most cost-effective transportation improvement.

Some benefits and costs have a mirror-image relationship; a cost increase can be considered a reduction in benefits, and a reduction in benefits can be considered an increase in costs. For example, reduced accidents can be defined as increased road safety, and reduced congestion delays can be described as an increase in mobility.

The move made by Government to go ahead with the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project not only will help the country to achieve steady economic growth for this year but also address traffic and environmental issue.

The project would have enormous multiplier effects especially if the contractors were local.

This project will be funded through an Islamic bond program.

Dana Infra Sdn., a finance ministry company set up to fund infrastructure projects, will sell ringgit-denominated Islamic bonds, or sukuk, with maturities of as much as 65 years.

It expected to raise as much 30 billion ringgit.

Dana Infra’s bonds will likely receive an AAA rating from local rating companies due to sovereign backing

The proposed 3-line 150 km Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Kuala Lumpur (KL) comprising two northeast-southwest radial lines and one circle line looping around KL city.

KL MRT will not only significantly increase the current inadequate rail network but will also serve to integrate the existing rail networks and expectantly alleviate the severe traffic congestion in the KL metropolitan area.

The proposal was announced in June 2010 and was approved by the government of Malaysia in December 2010.

Construction of the first line is targeted to commence in July 2011.

The project also represents one of the economic entry point project identified for the Greater Kuala Lumpur / Klang Valley National Key Economic Area under the Economic Transformation Program.

The KL MRT system is envisaged to radically improve and transform Kuala Lumpur’s poor and sorely inadequate public transportation coverage and to propel the Greater Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area to be on par with that of a developed city.

The new lines will increase Greater Kuala Lumpur’s rapid rail network from 15 km per million people in 2010 to 40 km per million people once completed.

The proposal also envisages a fivefold increase in rail riders, in line with the government’s target for public transport usage in the Klang Valley of 40% by 2020 from 18% in 2009.

While the project is welcome by most, some analysts and commentators have expressed concerns on the commercial viability of the project and scepticism on the government part to pull off a project of such scale, given the numerous past delays in other rail-related projects in Malaysia.

However, most agree that the project will generate immense economic contribution and investment returns in the future.

References:

Wendell Cox (2000), Urban Transport Fact Book (www.publicpurpose.com).

Kenneth Orski (2000), “Can Alternatives to Driving Reduce Auto Use?” Innovation Briefs, Vol. 11, No. 1, Jan/Feb.

Ted Balaker (2004), Past Performance Vs. Future Hopes: Will Urban Rail Improve Mobility In North Carolina?, Policy Study 321, Reason Public Policy Foundation (www.rppi.org/ps321.pdf).

Todd Litman (2006), “Changing Travel Demand: Implications for Transport Planning,” ITE Journal, Vol. 76, No. 9, (www.ite.org), September, pp. 27-33; at www.vtpi.org/future.pdf.

Robert Puentes (2008), The Road…Less Traveled: An Analysis of Vehicle Miles Traveled Trends in the U.S., Brooking Institution (www.brookings.edu); at www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/1216_transportation_tomer_puentes.aspx?emc=lm&m=220694 &l=17&v=39243.

(this article written for 1BINA.my)