Sunday, November 08, 2009

PJ 'Sentral' Terminal?

Another letter from our local public transport activist, Moaz Ahmad ;-), this time with regards to potential plans for a public transport hub for Petaling Jaya to be located at Kota Damansara.

Proposed 'Sentral' Terminal for Petaling Jaya

The Association for the Improvement of Mass-Transit took note of the proposal for a "sentral" public transport hub for Petaling Jaya, mooted by a local developer and supported by the Petaling Jaya City Council. This proposed "sentral" station would be located in Kota Damansara and would integrate bus and LRT services.
TRANSIT recognizes and appreciates the enthusiasm of the developer and the Petaling Jaya City Council with respect to the proposed "sentral" station but we believe that this project will be an exercise in failure.

However, we do not blame the developer or the Petaling Jaya City Council. They are only doing the best they can with the uncoordinated and incomplete planning process that we currently have.

Despite all the talk about improving public transport in the past 5 years (to say nothing of the talk and proposals over the past 30 years) there has never been a complete and effective master plan of the Klang Valley that all governments and planners can stick to as they make their transport and development plans.

In other words, there is no single, consistent document that tells us what the Klang Valley will look like in 10 or 20 or 50 years.

What makes it even worse is that the plans that we do have are inconsistent with each other. The KLCity 2020 Draft Plan is not consistent with the KL Structure Plan. The transport components of the Draft Local Plans for Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya and Klang are inconsistent with the Selangor State Structural Plan. We can only presume that the plans for Selayang, Kuala Langat, Ampang Jaya, Kajang and Hulu Selangor will be equally inconsistent with the State Structural Plan.

On top of that, Prasarana's plans (or should we say, the consultant's plans) for LRT extension and routes are so far inconsistent with all of the above mentioned plans - with no data or evidence or justifications being provided.

So should we be surprised that private developers and local councils are planning public transport services in their own silos, without talking to each other.

However, based on what TRANSIT already knows, we recommend that the Petaling Jaya City Council reconsider the proposed "sentral" station in Kota Damansara.

Firstly, Prasarana has proposed that the Kota Damansara - Cheras line be extended to Sg. Buloh to link with the KTM at Sg. Buloh station. In addition, the government has also mooted the idea of an Integrated Transport Terminal (for buses, KTM, MRT, taxis etc).

Both of these make Sg. Buloh a more likely site for a successful public transport terminal. A terminal located just down the road in Kota Damansara would be a wasteful and unnecessary project.

Secondly, except for the developments along Persiaran Surian, much of Kota Damansara is a relatively low-density area in comparison with other areas of Petaling Jaya. Kota Damansara also has a very high level of car usage.

In constrast, areas like Petaling Jaya Selatan, PJ Old Town and even Damansara Utama are much higher in density and have greater levels of public transport usage. This means that public transport projects in these locations are far more likely to be successful.

Thirdly, TRANSIT's study of demographics, density, transport patterns and land use in Petaling Jaya suggest that there is a need for two smaller public transport hubs, rather than one massive 'sentral' station.

Projections of traffic congestion in Petaling Jaya in the next few years are quite scary if many of the mooted projects are approved. Petaling Jaya will need the proposed Sg. Buloh to Cheras line as well as a north-south LRT line connecting Bandar Utama with Petaling Jaya Selatan.

In order to make this happen, TRANSIT proposes a Petaling Jaya Selatan hub be located near Jalan Templer and the New Pantai Expressway would integrate KTM services with Bus Rapid Transit (using the NPE and Jalan Templer / Gasing / Universiti) and feeder buses. The Seri Petaling LRT line would be extended to integrate with the KTM service, Bus Rapid Transit and feeder buses at Petaling Jaya Selatan.

In addition, we propose a Bandar Utama hub located along the LDP to the north of 1Utama shopping centre would integrate bus services with the proposed MRT line from Sg. Buloh to Cheras. The Seri Petaling LRT would be extended from Sentul to Kepong, and then southwards to Bandar Utama.

Finally, a north-south LRT connection between Bandar Utama and Petaling Jaya Selatan would provide service for the centre of Petaling Jaya, provide a public transport alternative to the LDP, and 'close the loop' of the Seri Petaling LRT line.
Combining these two short distance LRT extensions with the construction of smaller integrated transport hubs at Bandar Utama and Petaling Jaya Selatan will immediately help to reduce traffic congestion in the northern and southern areas of Petaling Jaya. These projects will have a more positive effect on traffic congestion in the Klang Valley than the proposed extensions of the LRT lines to Putra Heights ever could.

But until all of the planners, wakil rakyat, public transport operators and the public sit down together as one Klang Valley public transport council, we will continue to see separate ideas mooted by different bodies - all working towards similar goals in their own fragmented, uncoordinated way.

This is why TRANSIT proposes that this Klang Valley public transport council be created now.

Sincerely

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
on behalf of TRANSIT
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