The Edge Financial Daily carried a report that, KL, as Malaysia's main commercial hub, lags its regional rivals in rail-based infrastructure investment and this could have a significant impact on the city’s competitiveness as workforce mobility is one of the key factors in a city’s attractiveness as a place to live and do business.
KL’s newest LRT line, the Kelana Jaya line (formerly known as the Putra line), was completed almost 10 years ago in 1999. In intervening years, Bangkok and Singapore have continued to make massive investments in public transport infrastructure.
Singapore announced earlier this year that it has set aside another S$20 billion (RM46 billion) for new lines for its mass rapid transport (MRT) system. This fresh allocation comes on top of the S$20 billion that the city has already invested on new extensions to the MRT system in the last five years. These new investments will altogether double the length of its MRT network from 138km to 278km.
Bangkok is spending 446 billion baht (RM43 billion) to add 248km of rail to its metro system, which started in 2004 with completion expected in 2010.
KL’s LRT network in contrast, is only 56km long. Years of under-investment in rail and too much emphasis on construction of new roads have left KL city dwellers chronically dependent on cars, with most of them having no viable alternative to turn to during the recent hike in fuel prices.
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Clearly, the economic planners are falling asleep at the wheel. What does the Public Transport Commission headed by DPM Najib have to say about this? KL's lag in public transportation will affect Malaysia's economic competitiveness since it has a direct correlation with productive time lost in traffic congestion.