WHY should RTS start only AFTER 2024?

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I crossed from JB to SG and back three times in 2018. One of those trips on a weekday took 3.5 hours. Reports say that there are 100,000 people on average crossing the border on a daily basis. If everyone took 3 hours, that’s 300,000 hours wasted. (Unless of course everyone was reading a book) This was why whenever anyone were to ask me what’s the catalyst for Iskandar (JB) my answer is the RTS between Johor’s Bukit Chagar and Singapore’s Woodlands North, where it will join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line. The reason is because the RTS trains will be able to carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction, translating into an additional capacity of 60,000 users crossing the Causeway during peak hours. The higher the connectivity, the more potential growth in economic activity. This is part of the 4Ps (POLICY) and it’s vry important.

A concerned Singaporean friend asked me about my thoughts after he read the news about the potential delay of RTS (SG – JB) This is the article in FreeMalaysiaToday: RTS service likely to start after 2024. In a written reply to Parliament, Singapore’s transport ministry said that Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link) Project was falling “behind schedule and not progressing well”. Singapore’s transport minister Khaw Boon Wan said based on the bilateral agreement, the joint venture company (JVC) comprising Singapore’s SMRT and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia Berhad should have been constituted by June 30, 2018.

These milestones had been missed and Malaysia has been failing to confirm its joint venture (JV) partner thrice last year. Latest request was for an extension till Feb 28 to name its JV partner. He said, “As a result of these delays, the JVC has not even been incorporated to-date, let alone signed the concession agreement.” The final sentence in the article was this sentence. “As a result of these delays, the commencement date of RTS Link services will likely be delayed beyond the original target of 31 December 2024.” This is the full article in FMT for reference.

Frankly, I seriously hope someone with decision making authority would give everyone an update; our side of the story if indeed there is such a serious delay. Silence is not golden in this case. The RTS is not because we want to earn ticket prices or for convenience sake. It’s for enhanced economic activity. A Singaporean SME could choose to expand via JB because now the bosses could even come over JB and visits his plant on a daily basis and the workers could drop by the HQ for a face-to-face meeting anytime. I have been in the corporate world for over 20 years. I can safely tell you that a video call can never beat a smile and a handshake. Happy following.

written on 15 Jan 2019

Next suggested article: Iskandar’s BRT 90% coverage and 51km by 2021

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