IT was a mysterious year. To the Chinese, unpredictability comes with the Year of the Water Dragon. The advice to weather the year was to relax and take things calmly as they came. The Dragon years occur after every 12 years but Water Dragon years only occur every 60 years. The last Water Dragon year was in 1952.
To fans of the Mayan calendar, they were predicting the worst. The date of the dreaded day was December 21 2012. It came and went by. Local daily and foreign media did a story on the expected Armageddon. As it turned out, there is more to the mysterious Mayan calendar. Life continues and soon the year 2013 will begin its chapter.
For the urban rail public transport system owner Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, 2012 has been an interesting and challenging year of sorts. Its long-term strategic plan dubbed as the Go Forward Plan (GFP) entered its final leg in 2012. The GFP did register some successes but the journey to be the preferred urban public transport system continues. Prasarana's GFP 2.0 will kick off in 2013 with a host of strategies ready to be deployed to further improve the country's public transport system while strengthening the company's position as a business concern.
The year 2012 did see Prasarana officially launching its Line Extension Project (LEP), which will extend the reach of the existing Kelana Jaya LRT Line and the Ampang LRT Line. The new alignments - a 17km elevated track extending from Kelana Jaya station to Putra Heights and another 17.7km alignment from Sri Petaling station to Putra Heights - support the existing LRT lines of Ampang and Kelana Jaya that serve some 400,000 people daily since they commenced operations in 1996 and 1998 respectively.
Like all development projects, there are bound to be those who have to endure the most discomfort while the projects are being built. There were complaints of traffic congestion, damaged roads, dusty environment and noise pollution due to the LEP. Prasarana met with the complainants and worked out solutions to minimise their discomfort. Work on the project cannot stop and have to move on as the LEP is the long-term solution to resolve the escalating traffic congestion issue in the Klang Valley.
Prasarana's automated fare collection (AFC) system, which was introduced in July 2010, went bigger in 2012. From March 1 2012, a passenger can ride on a single fare to utilise the services of the LRT and the KL Monorail. The first phase of integration involving the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT Lines was undertaken in November 2011.
A new urban public transport system by Prasarana was also announced in 2012. Under a Public-Private Partnership Initiative, Prasarana and Sunway Bhd will be developing a bus rapid transit (BRT) system to service the areas of Bandar Sunway and Subang Jaya. The project is expected to be completed concurrently with the LEP, thus giving the Klang Valley a seamless, modern and integrated urban public transport system. This would be in line with one of the National Key Results Area to further improve the country's urban public transport system and ultimately shaping the country as a developed and high-income nation come 2020.
Prasarana also launched RapidKuantan in 2012. It is a new public bus service for the booming town of Kuantan and its sub-urban areas. With the launch, the public bus services of Prasarana are now in Penang, Pahang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. More cities are expected be serviced by Prasarana as announced by the Prime Minister when tabling the 2013 Budget.
It has been a busy 2012 for Prasarana. While it was not a smooth ride, the company persevered and managed to keep on track with its objectives. A busier year is expected for Prasarana in 2013 as the construction of the LEP and the BRT moves into high gear.