PETALING JAYA: A Kulai-Senai-Larkin-Johor Bahru route would be an ideal corridor for Johor’s pilot light rail transit (LRT) project, a transport expert said, citing the potential high demand for public transport in these townships.
Rosli Azad Khan said areas with a high demand for public transport should be prioritised and given due attention.
“In any case, a thorough study is required to determine the most appropriate corridor or corridors, which can then be used to forecast and determine the ridership, and also the construction costs,” he told FMT.
Rosli, who has spent over 30 years in the transport industry, said a Pasir Gudang-Permas Jaya-Johor Bahru corridor could be part of the second phase for the LRT project.
Last month, Johor works, transportation and infrastructure committee chairman Fazli Salleh said the proposed three lines for the project, which is expected to span 30km, involved Tebrau, Skudai and Iskandar Puteri.
Rosli said population density was an important factor in determining LRT ridership and its viability to attract potential passengers.
And given the vast areas to cover, as per the proposal, the cost of construction – estimated to be about RM20 billion – could also be high, he said.
“But ridership numbers of today, may not be sufficient to justify the high construction costs.”
Rosli said the three LRT lines should not be “built in one go” because it would not be cost-effective considering the ridership in areas like Iskandar being quite low at present.
Wan Agyl Wan Hassan, a former official of the now defunct Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), said the RM20 billion price tag may include other factors.
He added that one of the factors would be having to integrate the LRT lines with the existing transport network, with the others being the cost to reclaim land, labour, raw materials, and the “engineering challenges”.
Wan Agyl also said there was a need to take into account the continuous urbanisation in towns, increasing density and economic growth, even though the current data shows that ridership was moderate.
“This LRT project must not only be financially viable when it comes to construction but must also take into consideration the cost to operate and maintain it in the long run.”