GlobalAtlanta publisher Phil Bolton visited Malaysia in July as a guest of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority. This article is the second of a series that will be appearing in coming weeks.
Like every major city, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, has traffic congestion that can bring it to a standstill. With 7.2 million of the country’s 28.8 million people living in the city’s metro area, traffic woes are inevitable, a fact that Atlantans know all too well.
But unlike Atlanta, which continues to debate the right balance between investing in public transportation and building bigger highways, density in the Malaysian capital has spurred increased ridership of public transport.
More people in Kuala Lumpur are opting for public transportation than ever before, Malaysian officials told GlobalAtlanta. Their assessments show that more than 85,000 commuters are taking public transport during morning peak hours, and the number is expected to climb.
To deal with the setback in the city’s quality of life that traffic congestion provides, the Malaysian government has made transportation planning a primary component of its efforts to transform Kuala Lumpur into one of the top 20 most liveable cities in the world by 2020.
As measured by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Kuala Lumpur currently ranks 77th, making it the second most liveable city in Southeast Asia after Singapore at 52. The criteria include stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
To address the issue head-on, the government included transportation in its 2010 economic plan as one of six areas slated for improvement along with education, rural infrastructure, low-income households, crime and corruption.
Its focus on transportation already has born tangible results.
Two examples of which Georgia transportation planners could be envious are the renovations of Kuala Lumpur’s major bus stations into multimodal hubs linking the country’s high speed train, monorail and metro services along with its buses and taxis.
“In our planning for public transport, it is critical for us to build or improve connectivity via multimodal sites wherever possible,” Zadil Hanief Mohamad Zaidi, associate director of the Malaysian government’s urban public transport team told GlobalAtlanta. “There are several locations where two rail lines intersect or a bus terminus is located near a rail station.”
Georgia and Atlanta officials are of the same opinion and recently announced that the Georgia MultiModal Passenger Terminal has been chosen by the federal government as one of 17 high-priority projects nationwide based on their potential to spur significant economic activity and job creation.
Much like the multimodal terminals in Kuala Lumpur, the Georgia terminal is to bring together various bus and rail transit services in a centralized downtown Atlanta location serving as a transfer point for its existing and future intercity, regional and local transit services.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur’s transportation systems are praised in several guidebooks for having one of Southeast Asia’s best public transportation systems allowing easy access at a small cost.
The options include its 5.3-mile monorail, its 18-mile light rail, its 35-mile heavy rail systems, and its buses and taxis.
The Pudu Sentral, formerly Puduraya Terminal, is the main bus station terminus in Kuala Lumpur. It opened in 1976 and then closed in 2010 for upgrading.
In April last year, the station was reopened with four levels of waiting areas replacing a single crowded area.
It now is one of two major multi-modal hubs in the city with 22 new gates for buses, ticket counters and shops and food courts. It is connected by a covered walkway to the city’s light rail system. It also is within walking distance to the city’s monorail line.
Bandar Tasik Selatan is the other recently renovated multimodal station serves as both a stop and interchange for the country’s public transport systems.
In addition to the upgrading of these multimodal facilities, improvements have been made to create seamless ticketing for all of the transportation systems other than the taxis.
For the first article in the series, click here.