Years ago when the Light Rail Transit (LRT) was proposed, people rejoiced knowing that everybody could benefit from it. My family and I were among those waiting for the completion of the LRT because it would be the cheapest and fastest mode of transportation since we rely on public transportation.
Despite having a car now, the Ampang LRT and the Kelana Jaya LRT lines remain a boon on days I am rushing to town or am looking to save money on parking.
So when the new Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT line was first brought to light in December 2010, I knew in an instant, this is one of the best ideas.
The line, which is part of the Mass Rapid Transit Project, is said to serve about 10 million people by 2020.
Residents of these neighbourhoods have brought up a number of issues that will affect their lives if the MRT runs through or near their housing estates.
Among the concerns brought up were noise pollution and land acquisition. Bukit Damansara residents wanted the line to run underground but the Land Public Transport Commission said the cost would escalate three times.
The law says that the state may acquire land if the authority is satisfied that the land is needed for a purpose that is beneficial to the economic development of the country.
In the case of the MRT, it was felt that the project would generate sufficient economic benefits not only to residents and businesses in the Klang Valley but to the entire country. Therefore, the state authority and the federal government approved the land acquisition for the project.
The commission has been going around holding meetings with the affected residents to hear their views and soothe their fears.
We understand the concerns of the residents. If I were a resident staying in TTDI and the line runs as close as 14m from my house I would also object. It is also difficult for residents who have lived in quiet, suburban areas for many years to adapt to a noisy, busy environment.
The government should have put this project in place many years ago instead of waiting until the areas have matured and developed but the fact remains that despite the lag, the MRT would bring benefits for years to come.
Take the Sungai Buloh Rubber Research Institute for example, the residents and workers are being shifted out of their homes to other estates to make way for the Greater Kuala Lumpur Strategic Development Project, an initiative under the 10th Malaysia Plan to revitalise the city. This project includes a transportation hub. They are directly affected by the MRT.
Despite this, MIC Subang division deputy chairman Ravindar Muthusamy admitted the people would definitely benefit in the end.
According to Ravindar, 80% of the residents around the estates are part of the middle-income group while another 20% are poor.
The toll costs some RM10 per day for those travelling into KL and most of them are forced to endure hours of traffic congestion before getting to work.
“The place is also a gold mine now with new developments booming up. The MRT has its drawback of course but at the end of the day, it is still a great idea,” he said.
Children from poor families looking to make an income in the city will definitely benefit from this line especially since it provides them with a cheaper alternative for travelling.
Besides helping out the poor, the project will also benefit tourism. The MRT routes that pass by the residential and commercial hubs will also increase the price of property.
During a recent working trip to Hong Kong, I personally experienced what the MTR (as it is called there) can do for the people and the country.
Walking along the streets, one would notice a stark contrast between the Malaysian roads and the Hong Kong roads. Public buses, taxis and luxury cars are the only vehicles on the road, others opt for underground train system.
Tourists rejoiced the facilities that allowed them to move from one place to another in record time. Above ground businesses flourished as people get off the trains and shop upstairs. Apartments benefit from the close proximity the MRT provides, allowing residents to wake up, get dressed and hop into a MTR that will take less than 20 minutes to get them to their destinations.
Integrated transportation, is the key to the next generation of travel. Despite the many benefits this project brings, the government has to ensure that everybody benefits in one way or another.
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