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Good public transport still a distant dream

Despite Putrajaya’s growth and planning, public transport options remain limited by high prices and low efficiency. FILE PIC

PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya will celebrate its silver anniversary this year with the opening of a time capsule planted on Aug 29 1995. 

Normally, the opening of a time capsule is a poignant moment, the marking of a time gone by, or of promises fulfilled.

Many who helped to build Putrajaya are still around to remember the process, and many members of the public still remember the promises of the new federal administrative capital.

The time capsule will be a scorecard of what was achieved, and what was not.

There is no doubt that Putrajaya is the pride of the nation, an administrative centre that is laden with buildings of architectural delight.

Each ministry and agency was given a free hand on the choice of their design and location, and some chose to distinguish themselves from the rest.

Witness how the Foreign Ministry chose to ensconce itself on a hill; or how the dome of the Palace of Justice towers over the boulevard; or the sprawling vastness of the Ministry of Finance.

Putrajaya is truly a sight to behold.

The beauty of Putrajaya has turned it into a touristic attraction.

Foreign tourists and dignitaries marvelled at its development and some have come to emulate it.

Way before “sustainable development” became a buzz word, Putrajaya was conceived with its own brand of sustainable and inclusive development framework.

This centred around the idea of a trinity of relationships — between Man and his Creator, Man and his Environment, and Man and his Fellow Man.

On paper, Putrajaya was the aspiration for sustainable development through the best planning practices.

Early blueprints definitively identified public transport as playing a major role in Putrajaya life.

In “green” terms, Putrajaya had already planned for decarbonisation through the prioritisation of public transport. 

Public transport is often seen as a social service to city dwellers which city developers and implementors are obligated to provide.

We were promised a safe,  efficient and integrated public transport system. 

However, after 25 years, the efficiency of the public transportation system in and adjoining Putrajaya leaves much to be desired.

There was supposed to be a 70:30 ratio of public versus private transport within the Putrajaya core area, which is why the administrative capital has few parking lots. 

It was imagined that public transport would be efficient and hassle-free for inter and intra travel, as public transport is an important indicator in a liveable city.

Today, people lament about the inaccessibility of government complexes, and transport travelling in and out of Putrajaya.

Public transport options are limited. For one, there is the KLIA Transit, a commuter rail service arm of the Express Rail Link (ERL), that connects Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya.

This a relatively expensive public transport service at RM14 (one way) from KL Central to Putrajaya Central.

Then upon arriving at Putrajaya, you find that the feeder buses cannot be relied on.

Users have complained of too many stops, delays, or non-appearances altogether.

One of the reasons for poor frequency is because the bus operators use conventional stage buses, and they often stall to wait for maximum passengers rather than following scheduled times.

For those who must come to work on time, this puts them in a quandary. The situation is worse after office hours or on weekends.

The second option of rail-based public transport to and from Putrajaya is via Kajang, which is 25km from Putrajaya.

At around RM4 from Kajang to Kuala Lumpur, this is a cheaper option than KLIA Transit, but the connection from Kajang MRT Station to Putrajaya by Grab or taxi takes about 25 minutes and is costly.

As a result of the lack of good options in public transport, users have turned to using private transport.

Traffic jams during peak hours are inevitable and contribute to polluting the beautiful and once noise-free administrative capital. 

Those who must go to Putrajaya for meetings or other reasons find it an ordeal having to find parking spaces, some of which had been provided only in retrospect.

Putrajaya’s blueprint held the promise of a Light Rail Transport (LRT) that was supposed to connect commuters in the administrative centre.

The preliminary infrastructure for this LRT is in place, and the LRT tunnel linking the different core points exist underground,  unused.

There were also plans  to install tram services in the administrative centre and from the centre to the commercial and residential precinct.

A regular and reliable tram service, like the LRT, runs on electricity and is environmentally clean. Its presence also adds beauty and character to Putrajaya.

Trams have always been found to be a charming, cost-effective and relatable to passenger needs, as trams are located at-grade or at road level.

Then there was the promise for a ferry service on the lake to take commuters to the core areas. Today, a restricted ferry services facilitate only tourists along the man-made lake, part of which had been reclaimed to make way for private houses.

When the time capsule is unearthed on Aug 29 this year, these plans that fell by the wayside will come to light.

It will be a sad evidence of what we did not achieve.

We were there 25 years ago — we still believe that it is not too late to put those plans into action.

Then Putrajaya would really be a city to be envied.



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