Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Stupid Are We. Build Then Plan?

Yet before the MRT starts construction in July 2011, there has been criticisms from several associations pertaining to feasibility, acquisition, planning and projecting of the project. When the MRT was first announced in the middle of last year, there were several doubts lingering on how it was pushed to move ahead without proper land feasibility, structure, expenditure, actual cost, designs, maintenance, etc.. Now matter how fast you wish to pursue the project, those main issues will crop up at a certain point. Of course, I agree with the AWER association's opinion that MRT is rushed up. Like a computer program, a design plan is not always perfect and in our computer lingo, not always 100% perfect, bug-free. 

Note: Map accompanying the MRT plan can be viewed here (Look for tags KD, RL, KA)

Excerpt from MI:

“Based on his answer, it creates more doubt. Question — Why are you putting an MRT? Answer — I want to reduce traffic congestion.

“Question — How much are you planning to reduce? Answer — I have not studied that.
“That sort of answer should not come from a regulator,” he pointed out. - 

Parking and Traffic Problems, Another KL Sentral Problem Scenario?

On this MRT matter, I noticed several things that were not taken into account. First thing foremost is parking facilities.  For the first phase of the MRT, there are 13 planned parking spaces covering from Sungai Buloh to Kajang. Questions arised include whether there would be sufficient space or not. What will be the parking bays like? Multiple-stories, situated next to the stations? 

If there are insufficient parking spaces in those 13 stations, the parking charges will be very high. Since there are one or two stations at 1Utama and The Curve, the parking charges will be likely to increase if the operations take place in that vicinity. What's more is that there will be traffic problems at stations because people will definitely try to park the car and the area could be clogged up. AWER has estimated another RM 400 million on additional fuel costs for the first five years of operation (see here).

Since the government has admitted that they have never planned on such thing, MRT stations can end in the same fate as in KL Sentral. You only need to see either KL Sentral or the Titiwangsa as to understand the consequences and implications of parking and traffic feasibility misplanned.

This is not like in Australia or Singapore where they have excellent inter-transport modes that it is okay to pay high price parking charges. At this point of time, Malaysians are unwilling to pay high exorbitant amounts (e.g, KL Sentral, parking per day can be approximately RM 30), and that can put off many people out there. Sure, this was an act of desperation to cut higher risk of bad traffic in that area, but the planning and conception went wrong at the beginning. 

Not Very Good Consultancy and Planning

I am primarily looking at the design angle and how the system is running. From what I know, the MRT technology and design is worked out with the consultants from Hong Kong. What is known is that the Hong Kong consultants are the same ones that Singapore initially used but eventually ditched it because they found out that it was flawed in several aspects. Why did Malaysia go for them in the first place? 

In the case of emergency, breakdown and daily maintenance, does the MRT system has several depots eyed where they can have proper technology to repair and clean when needed? Are depots taken into consideration when proposing such plan like this? 

The cost of 36 billion is merely an estimation and approximate, as what SPAD admitted and without taking into account other costs. This is also a case of bad factoring, a classic school boy mistake. 

Also, a case highlighted by the environmental consultant reveals of the need to occupy and acquiring 97 hectares of land unless there are realignments to the track made. There is definitely going to be a serious legal battles over land acquisition with neither side is willing to compromise over such thing. Therefore, a realignment on several parts of the tracks will have to be done before July. A lot of acquisition matters will have to be sorted out no doubt, but doing at this time can severely delay the project if neither side can agree.

Why It Wasn't There In The Beginning?

By history, the LRT, Komuter and Monorail services only came in at the late 90s and yet many people are complaining that there is a sloppy flexibility of travelling to one station to another, with people having to walk to go to another train mode. The MRT actually can fill in the puzzle but I think it was never clearly thought out at the beginning way before the financial crisis happened. If that is put together way back in the beginning, you don't even need to splash 36 billion for that. Oh, my, did Dr. M thought about that? But remember, LRT was slacked in the beginning that the company had to be bailed out....

Could MRT be the same fate as KTM Komuter? KTM is being whacked left and right by the people because they come late, they don't have enough rolling stocks to accommodate people, sometimes your trip gets delayed, long waiting time and among other problems. To this day, people are still unhappy with its service despite its convenience. 

Having also looked at the map, the concentration lies on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang. This means, other parts like Subang Jaya, and Inner Ring will have to wait longer after that. And that is pretty bad for people in some parts of Klang Valley.

How Stupid of Us

I sum up with one whole thing: How stupid are we all.  The ego has got the better of us. We tend to talk, then build, but no brain to plan and consider other aspects. And we tend to plan things later. It has happened to our main infrastructures like KL Sentral, the commuter system and other policies as well. I also have previously written of how critical I am of BN pushing for policies regardless of its consequences. They have failed to understand human psychology and giving a "I don't know" answer from a regulator seems to make things bad.

If you people are stupid in that case, you better step aside and let those who are better handle the governing and regulate affairs. In the mean time, I might check up on the MRT drawing boards later.

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