Johor’s RM2.56 bil Bus Rapid Transit to take off in 2022

Johor’s BRT will combine the speed and reliability of the LRT with the affordability of a conventional bus system. (imbrt.com.my pic)

PETALING JAYA: Johor’s RM2.56 billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is finally expected to take off in early 2022 with the aim of beating congestion and pollution and encouraging more people to use public transport.

According to The Sunday Times of Singapore, the authorities are now selecting consultants who will work on the finer details of the design.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year, with the BRT service targeted to start in the first quarter of 2022, the paper said, quoting Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit director Rudyanto Azhar.

The report said the BRT, first conceptualised in the Transportation Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia in 2009, will combine the speed and reliability of the light rail transit (LRT) with the affordability of a conventional bus system.

It will see high-capacity buses plying dedicated bus lanes on three main routes connecting Johor Bahru to industries and residential areas in Tebrau, universities and small and medium-sized enterprises in Skudai and new growth areas in Nusajaya.

There will be 39 stations along the 51km-long trunk lines, including stops at Larkin, Bukit Chagar near the Causeway and Medini near the Tuas Second Link.

The BRT will be supported by 42 suburban feeder services plying existing roads and 26 direct services to populated areas such as malls, hospitals and tourist spots like Legoland and Pasar Borong Pandan City, the report said.

These air-conditioned buses with Wi-Fi on board will run on clean energy at regular intervals, cutting waiting and travelling times for commuters while reducing pollution and traffic jams, it said.

The report quoted Rudyanto as saying the project cost will be financed by the government, which will contribute RM1 billion, and the private sector, and is “a fraction of the cost” of building an LRT.

“It’s been a long battle. Throughout our studies, we have looked at various alternative systems, and Bus Rapid Transit is the system of choice for the moment,” Rudyanto was quoted as saying.

According to the report, the BRT will be modelled after existing systems around the world, including Bogota in Colombia and various cities in China such as Guangzhou.

The revamped bus network will cover 90% of Iskandar Malaysia, up from the current 39%, Rudyanto said.

He hoped that with better connectivity and accessibility, more people will use public transport. Less than 10% of the region’s two million population currently do so.

The Sunday Times interviewed several Johor Bahru residents, who welcomed the BRT initiative although some insisted they would stick to the convenience of driving to get around.

The reported added that according to Global BRT Data, 170 cities have implemented such systems, serving more than 33 million people a day.

In Southeast Asia, BRT services can be found in Jakarta, Bangkok and Hanoi.