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Thursday, 31 May 2018

(The Star) Transport experts: Time to look for cheaper alternative

PETALING JAYA: Scrapping the MRT3 Line for now will allow the Government to review the costly project and look for a cheaper alternative, say public transport experts.

Transportation Science Society of Malaysia president Prof Moha­med Rehan Karim said the Govern­ment’s decision was understandable because it had to prioritise spending in light of the country’s high debt level.

“I would imagine that the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) would have also weighed this matter carefully and that they would look for a more cost-efficient solution to improve our public transport,” he said.

Urban planner and transport expert Goh Bok Yen said there were cheaper alternatives to MRT3, including a mix of road, rail and elevated public transport systems that could use articulated buses or trams adapted from systems in world-class cities.

“I feel that it is a wise move to hold on and look back economically and technically and ask whether we have an alternative,” Goh said.

By withholding the MRT3 project, the Government could also study whether the MRT1 and the upcoming MRT2 lines had actually met their objectives, he said.

“Among questions that need to be asked is whether the MRT’s current daily ridership, which is reportedly between 130,000 and 140,000, is justified compared to the original target of 250,000.

“Our new Government needs to know whether the investment so far in MRT has been justified and viable because it is taxpayers’ money.

“Let’s stop and look at Lines 1 and 2.

“There may have been mistakes which we should correct before going ahead,” said Goh.

The MRT3 or MRT Circle Line was planned as the third MRT line for the Greater Klang Valley area.

While the MRT1 connects Sungai Buloh and Kajang, the MRT2, which is now under construction, will run from Sungai Buloh to Serdang and Putrajaya.

MRT3 was planned as a loop line to integrate the lines, with most of its stations underground.

In November, Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) had invited local construction and infrastructure development firms to take part in its tender to select a turnkey contractor to build and finance MRT3 on a turnkey basis.

The successful bidder was to have been responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of the 40km line featuring 32km of twin-bored tunnels and 8km of elevated viaducts.

The selected bidder has not been announced and an MRT Corp official when contacted said that the company would not be issuing any statement on the matter for now.