Not sure about you, but I’m excited just writing this. After five years of construction, it’s all systems go for Malaysia’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) phase one of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) Line. After running on trial since October, the BMW-designed trains will commence operations on 6am December 16, which is this Friday. It will be launched tomorrow by prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who rode in the train last Friday from Mutiara Damasara to PBD.
The train will run from Sungai Buloh to Semantan on 21 km of elevated tracks for now; the full line all the way to Kajang will be ready by July 2017. It will cover 12 stations in Sg Buloh, the Kota Damansara area, PJ, Bangsar and Pusat Bandar Damansara, and can be used to directly access popular malls such as 1 Utama and The Curve/IPC/Ikea. The Sunway Damansara commercial area and Sunway Giza also has an MRT station.
The station list reads: Sg Buloh, Kg Selamat (where Mah Sing’s D’sara Sentral is), Kwasa Damansara, Kwasa Sentral, Kota Damansara, Surian (Sunway Giza), Mutiara Damansara (The Curve), Bandar Utama (1U, Sri Pentas), Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Phileo Damansara, Pusat Bandar Damansara (where Sprint meets Bangsar’s Jalan Maarof) and Semantan. Around 30 minutes end to end.
MRT Corp project director for the SBK Line Marcus Karakashian said the system has been undergoing testing to ensure that it was good and safe to be used by the public, and while stringent testing had been conducted over several months, teething problems might still occur during operations. “I appeal to the public to be patient and understanding. As with all new train systems, there will be teething problems. We will work to resolve any of these issues when they occur,” he said.
Prasarana Malaysia subsidiary Rapid Rail is the appointed the operator of the SBK Line. It will handle all matters pertaining to the train service, including timetabling, fares, ticketing and customer service.
As for fares, Rapid Rail had earlier announced that it will range from RM1 to RM3.90 between the Sungai Buloh and Semantan stations. Only cash and Touch n Go cards will be accepted, and not the MyRapid card. For the 50% discount for senior citizens, students and the disabled (OKU), tokens with the concession fare will have to be purchased from the customer service office. It’s cheaper to pay with TnG compared to cash – see the tables below.
We’ve seen them roaming around with “Jom Naik MRT” livery, and 112 SBK Line feeder buses will also begin operating on 25 routes from 11 of the 12 stations operational under phase one from Friday.
“The buses will run on a frequency of between 10 minutes and 15 minutes. We will be monitoring the situation to gauge demand during the first few weeks,” said MRT Corp head of feeder bus and infrastructure planning Rudyanto Azhar, who added that the routes were designed to serve residential and commercial areas within 3km of an MRT station.
As with the trains, the buses receive only cash and Touch n Go cards. Senior citizens, students and OKU will have to show concession cards to the drivers for their 50% discount.
Also kicking off on Friday is the park and ride facilities at the Sungai Buloh, Kwasa Damansara, Kwasa Sentral, Bandar Utama and Pusat Bandar Damansara stations. The one at Phileo Damansara will open at a later date. MRT Corp reveals that of the above, only the Sg Buloh car park is fully owned and operated by the company; the others are by third parties under agreement with MRT Corp.
For the MRT Corp-owned and operated car park, the charges will be RM4.30 per entry for those who use the MRT service. Only Touch n Go cards can be used.
“The Touch n Go cards are needed to differentiate those who park and use the MRT and those who don’t. For now, we will be charging a flat rate for all users but later, the system will be able to charge an hourly rate for those who park but do not ride on the MRT trains,” said Datuk Haris Fadzilah Hassan, MRT Corp director of commercial and land management.
He added that MRT Corp encouraged the other park and ride facilities to adopt similar charges, standards and facilities to those operated by MRT Corp. Most of them have agreed to do so, but it is ultimately up to the operators.
On customer service, Prasarana’s RapidKL Helpline at 03-78852585 will from now handle all enquiries regarding the MRT SBK Line. MRT Corp’s MRT Hotline at 1800-82-6868 will continue to operate but it will focus on construction related matters for the SBK Line phase two and the MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line. Similarly, customer interaction related to operational matters will now be on RapidKL’s website and social media platforms in line with Prasarana being the line’s operator.
Each MRT train consists of four cars and can accommodate up to 1,200 passengers per trip, with daily ridership estimated to be around 400,000 when the full SBK Line is in full swing. This could translate to a reduction of 160,000 cars on Klang Valley roads. Trains are expected to run at a frequency of 3.5 minutes during peak hours. Jom naik MRT!