Hassle-Free Rides Via MRT

By Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- It is usual for retiree Sharon Tan to go out with her group of friends every now and then for a meal and some shopping.

For their recent meetup in Kajang, Selangor, they decided to keep their cars at home and use public transportation because they wanted to try out the recently launched mass rapid transit (MRT) service.

First, Tan, who is in her 50s, and her friends boarded the light rail transit (LRT) train at one of the stations in the USJ area of Subang Jaya, Selangor.

As It was the morning peak hour, the train was packed with commuters. They later switched to the MRT line at the Central Market station, here, which took them directly to Kajang.

"This is our first time on the MRT and I'm really satisfied with the service. And, the coaches are so spacious and comfortable," Tan told this writer, who was also using the MRT for the first time that day.

Tan said she and her friends intended to eat the famous Kajang satay and later, on their way back via MRT, stop at Jalan Bukit Bintang, here, to do some window shopping before returning home.

FIRST MRT EXPERIENCE

The second phase of the 51-kilometre-long Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) MRT line was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on July 17.

The entire stretch has 31 stations, seven of which are located underground. Each train set serving this line has four cars with a total capacity of 1,200 passengers per trip.

Phase one of the SBK line, from Sungai Buloh to Semantan in Damansara Heights, was launched last Dec 16.

This writer embarked on her own little MRT \"expedition\" from the KTM-MRT station in Sungai Buloh, Selangor.

The sun was shining brightly when she parked her car at the multilevel parking complex at the station.

However, it was not easy finding a vacant bay although it was an eight-storey building with 300 parking lots. It was obvious that a lot of people were using public transport to go to work in the city.

Finally, the writer found a spot to park her vehicle. She also used her Touch 'n Go card to pay the parking fee as it entitled her to the RM4.30 flat rate.

She used the lift to go down to the ground floor and then walked to the station.

The station received the thumbs-up from this writer not only for its disabled-friendly facilities but also its cleanliness and spaciousness.

It is understood that the station's architectural concept is based on the traditional Malay wakaf or shelter where, in the olden days, travellers used to rest.

The station has an open, environmentally-friendly, design that allows for natural lighting and ventilation.

The interior of the train cars is painted in shades of grey and greenish blue, creating a cool and peaceful atmosphere.

There were not many people in the coach when the writer boarded the MRT train but the numbers started to increase when it made its stops at various stations in the Kota Damansara and Damansara areas.

Most of the passengers that particular morning comprised senior citizens and college students.

THE PREFERRED CHOICE FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

The writer struck a conversation with her co-passengers Ibrahim Abdullah, 68, and his wife Rahimah Yusof, 67, who had come to Sungai Buloh from Rawang on the KTM Komuter train. They wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur using the MRT service.

"Previously, we used to drive all the way to KL and it used to be quite tiring for us. The MRT has made it a lot more convenient for us to travel," said a beaming Ibrahim.

Noting that many senior citizens were using the MRT service, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said recently that her ministry planned to set up a volunteer team to help elderly and disabled passengers to use the MRT service.

Businessman and financial advisor Faiz Najmi, 31, a regular MRT user, said ever since he started using the service, he has been able to cut his transportation costs by 80 to 90 per cent as he did not have to pay for petrol or parking charges.

"The presence of an MRT station near where I live in Taman Tun Dr Ismail has made it easier for me to use the service whenever I have to go to Kuala Lumpur to meet my clients," said Faiz, who shares his MRT experiences on Facebook.

SUCCESSFUL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION PROJECT

According to media reports, more than 200,000 commuters use the MRT line daily while traffic on the city roads has seen a 22 per cent decrease since the service was launched.

The Klang Valley MRT (KVMRT) system is among the projects identified for the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley National Key Economic Area (NKEA).

The NKEA is part of the Economic Transformation Programme implemented by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit under the Prime Minister\'s Department.

The Sungai Buloh-Kajang line is the first of three MRT lines proposed under the KVMRT project.

The second MRT line entails the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya link and it is expected to be operational in 2022.

MRT project developer and owner, MRT Corporation Sdn Bhd, has had to deal with vandalism issues since the SBK line was launched. The company has said that it would step up its efforts to educate commuters to be more civic conscious.

Among the measures it has taken is uploading photographs on social media of commuters (with their faces covered) caught eating inside the coach and placing their bags on the seats.

WORTH TAKING THE MRT

One of the reasons this writer took the MRT ride recently was to see for herself how many minutes it would take to complete the journey from Sungai Buloh to the last station in Kajang.

However, overcome by hunger pangs, she decided to disembark at the second-last station at Kajang Stadium as there was a satay outlet located not far away. When in Kajang, it is hard for anyone to resist the mouthwatering dish the town is famous for!

All in, the time it took for the writer to travel from the Sungai Buloh station to the Stadium Kajang station was one hour and 15 minutes.

For those commuting to work daily or just taking a ride to the city to shop or visiting Kajang to indulge in satay, the MRT service is a boon as they no longer have to deal with traffic congestion and parking woes.

BERNAMA