Making sure public transport remains cheap is not easy but can be done!

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This is what KTMB chief executive officer Mohd Rani Hisham Samsudin said in an article in NST, “TOD is the best method of development to integrate residential and retail with railway stations. Not only can we unlock the land value, the stations will also be upgraded with new look and facilities. This will add value to the overall development and bring convenience and value-added services to buyers and owner-occupiers.” Here’s that article: TOD concept for RAC land development.   What he is saying is a follow-up from what our new Transport Minister Anthony Loke said recently. Here’s that earlier article: Affordable homes within 9,192 acres of land and ‘profitable’ public transport company  In fact, it’s always a great pressure to the government of the day to ensure that public transport remains affordable because without this, the B40 will face tremendous pressure because I seriously do not think the petrol subsidy will last forever.

A brief explanation for TOD (transit oriented development). Basically it how a developer seeks to maximise access to mass transit and non-motorised transportation with centrally located rail or bus stations surrounded by relatively high-density commercial and residential developments. One example in Malaysia would be KL Sentral development in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. This 29.16ha land; KL Sentral has a RM1.1 billion Stesen Sentral, Grade-A office towers and suites, apartments and condominiums, hotels and a mall. Stesen Sentral is currently Malaysia’s largest transit hub, is where several rail networks, such as light rail transit (LRT), Express Rail Link (ERL) services, KTM trains and monorail, converge. There are also people who said that the public transportation within Greater KL should use the hub and spoke model.Well, the hub and spoke model may not be straight-forward for us because Malaysia did not actually start with ONE mode. There’s currently the ERL, LRT, LTM trains, Monorail and even MRT. That was why MRT Line 3 was proposed, as an integrator. Anyway, earlier article here: MRT Line 3. Better late than never.   

As for benchmarking the very best, Hong Kong is the best model for us. Their Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is a major public transport network operated by the MTR Corporation. It is the most profitable metro systems in the world and has a fare recovery rate os 187 percent in 2015.  Fare recovery means that the ticket sales coverage of the maintenance and operations cost. In brief, for every HK$1 spent on operations and maintenance, MTR Corporation is earning back HK$1.87! Usually, public transport would need subsidy from the government. It has managed to do this because it owns many commercial properties (towers too) along the track. For example it owns several shopping centres and even the International Finance Centre. As per wikipedia, it has some 7,000 housing units in the development. What it does is to merge connectivity with commercial activity which can also be known as a Transit Oriented Development. No one knows how much we are able to benchmark them but it’s definitely a model worth emulating. Here’s for further reading. Happy following.

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written on 8 July 2018

next suggested article:  China’s Hong Kong with a Hong Kong town in China. A rail based plan

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