Monday, June 16, 2008

Simple way to ease congestion

Simple way to ease congestion
17 June, 2008

OF late, there has been so much talk about improving the public transport system in the country such as the introduction of RapidPenang, extension of the LRT lines, monorail and building more elevated highways.

All this is good news to the ears, but whether the public is going to benefit is a big question, and whether it is going to improve the public transport system and solve the traffic congestion in the entire Klang Valley is an even bigger question.

Of course the building of elevated highways, extension of the LRT and monorail will bring a lot of business to the construction industry and boost the economy, but isn’t the cost going to be colossal?

I have a suggestion which I hope those involved in solving the traffic congestion and the poor public transport system will give some really serious thought to.

Having seen the way the public transport system has been given importance to in Holland and other European countries which has resulted in reducing traffic to almost no traffic snarls within their cities, I propose that for a start, tramcars be introduced in the Klang Valley and KTM Komuter upgrade some of its coaches, if not all, to double-deckers.

Firstly, by introducing tramcar services, we can save a lot of money, in that we do not have to construct elevated highways, which will only bring more traffic into Kuala Lumpur city thus increasing the congestion. We have to just concentrate on the existing highways.

At present, almost all the major roads and highways in the Klang Valley are dual carriageways with at least two lanes on each side and an island divider measuring six to eight feet.

All that needs to be done is to convert two middle lanes and the divider into tram tracks. Then laying tracks (rails) and installing electric power lines above these tracks is the extra that has to be done, not to mention the tramcars needed.

All the major areas like Petaling Jaya, Ampang, Batu Caves, Cheras, Damansara, Gombak, Jinjang, Kepong, Puchong, Selayang, Sentul and Setapak can be serviced by the trams.

In time to come, if proper planning is carried out now, the tramcar services can be extended to Shah Alam, Klang, Kajang and Rawang. Buses can also ply the routes and complement areas that are not covered by the trams.

With regular and frequent tram services, run efficiently, the public will definitely reduce their dependency on cars to move about into and out of KL city.

Travelling about in the city will also be easy.

And there are sure to be fewer complaints about rogue taxi drivers.

Secondly, now that the KTM double-tracking system is servicing KTM Komuter for its services to Klang, Seremban, Sentul, Rawang and Batang Kali, and is expected to be extended further, with double-decker coaches more people can be transported to and from KL city at one time.

Here again the cost of implementation of such a system will be minimal as all that needs to be done is to upgrade by acquiring the double-decker coaches, which can be done in stages, and raise the height of the electricity cable lines.

The tracks are already there. As it is, KTM Komuter is already unable to cope with its passenger traffic volume.

The LRTs are also facing the same problem. By extending the LRT lines to cover more areas, the problem is going to get worse unless more frequent services are provided, the LRTs cannot cope with the passenger volume.

As the KTM Komuter is powered by electricity just like the tramcar service, there will be less fuel usage resulting in less air pollution.

With more people turning to an efficiently run, new and improved public transport system as an alternative mode of transport, there will be fewer vehicles on the roads.

This will in turn contribute to reduced road maintenance and cost savings for the local authorities.

It will definitely be a win-win situation for everyone, except the car manufacturers and those involved in highway construction, of course.

At a time when fuel prices are sky rocketing, why spend billions on elevated highways when there is a simple remedy to the country’s traffic congestion and public transport problems.

We could have thought of this about a quarter of a century ago when we decided to widen the Federal Highway, upgrade the main roads in Klang Valley to highways and construct elevated highways.

Shah Alam, Selangor.

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