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15 Jan 2019
Ministry of Transport
Suggestion View - 270
Delay in the Rapid Transit Link between Singapore and Johore Bahru

I am disappointed to learn about the delay in the formation of the joint operating company to build the Rapid Transit Link between Singapore and Johore Bahru.

This delay was caused by the delay on the Malaysian side to appoint the joint venture partner for this project. Although it is not stated, there could be other reasons, such as heavy financing cost of the project and its financial viability. 

It is certain that the RTS link will not be ready by 2004, as originally planned. We do not know how long will be the delay.

In the meantime, a few hundred thousand travelers are caught by long travel times daily.

We can do something now to hardship caused to these travelers, many of whom are Malaysians working in Singapore.

There is already an existing KTM service, called the Trebau Express, that operates from Woodlands to Johore Bahru. The travel time on this train, including the clearance at the two checkpoints is 10 minutes, compared to an average of 90 minutes taken to travel by bus.

KTM operates 17 return trips a day. In spite of its higher cost, the service is popular with travelers. 

I urge the governments of the two countries to agree to increase the number of return trips. I estimate that it is possible to put 76 trips during a 19 hour operating period from 5  am to midnight. My calculation take into account a travel time of 5 minutes each way and another 5 minutes for embarkation and disembarkation at both stations. 

There may be less demand during the off peak period, so the number of trips can be reduced somewhat.  This will increase the capacity potentially by up 4.5 times. 

While the RTS may take a longer time to complete, let us make fuller use of the existing KTM line. It does not require any heavy investment in capital expenditure, apart from buying more trains.

I also suggest that the two immigration authorities cooperate to have joint clearance at the departure point. A traveler from Singapore can clear through the both checkpoints in the Woodlands side. Similarly a traveler from Malaysia can clear through both checkpoints at the Johore Bahru side.  

This is the current arrangement with the train service. It can be done for bus travelers as well.

For car travelers, the current arrangement can continue. The clearance for car travelers at two checkpoint is satisfactory, apart from the long jams during peak hours. I hope that some solution could be found. 

In some days, the long delay is caused by insufficient manpower for the checkpoints. This should be addressed immediately.

I urge the authorities on both sides to put the interest of their citizens at the forefront, rather than engage in brinkmanship, or what locals refer to as "wayang".

Tan Kin Lian

 


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