Always a smooth ride on the MRT

Many would attest that the MRT does not have frequent delays and is far more commodious than other rail services


IF YOU’RE not into public transport that much, a ride on the mass rapid transit (MRT) might just change your mind.

Many would attest that the MRT does not have frequent delays and is far more commodious than other rail services that are available in the country.

The list goes on: It is newer, faster and with more destinations that people can go to. Even the stations are bigger and shinier, while the toilets are conveniently clean.

Other train services like the light rail transit (LRT) and KTM Komuter are full of surprises, as daunting as they are familiar.

Expect a train breakdown during rush hour — usually in the morning when all of us are heading to work.

Some malfunctions would make one wait for hours which is a good opportunity to practise one’s patience.

But it is not all that bad as the train would still be cool considering all passengers are crammed together. That is if the air conditioning system did not suffer a breakdown as well.

Khairun Nadia Khairun Nizam has been using the MRT since 2017. Working as an intern back then, she would commute an almost empty MRT train from Sungai Jernih to Pasar Seni.

“Back in 2017, I would always get a seat. Now that I have a job, I still take the MRT from Sungai Jernih to Muzium Negara, but I rarely get to sit during peak hours, even though my station is the third last station. This comes to show that more people are using the MRT nowadays,” she said.

After the Sungai Jernih station is Stadium Kajang and lastly, the Kajang station.

Khairun Nadia said there are just as many people outside of Kajang — from Bangi, Putrajaya and even as far as Seremban — who would transit in Kajang to take the MRT to their destinations.

The Kajang MRT station is the terminus for the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT line, as well as the interchange for KTM Komuter’s Rawang-Seremban line.

Situated just 1km south from the Kajang town centre, the commuter station’s amenities include more than 1,000 covered car parking bays and 252 motorcycle bays.

Until the other two MRT lines are completed, Kajang remains the only strategic station for people from the south and beyond to transit.

Sharifah Khadijah Wafa Syed Shaiful Amran Wafa is a regular commuter who prefers to not take the train during peak hours, from either Taman Midah or Sungai Jernih to Pusat Bandar Damansara.

“I will leave the house and office early to reach the station before everyone else, to avoid the crowd,” she said of her tour de force.

Feeder Bus Service
Another helpful feature which is available at various MRT stations is the feeder bus service, which is Sharifah Khadijah’s main reason to ride the MRT in the first place.

“Since I always take public transports, I use the Rapid 100 (unlimited travel pass) for my ride because it is so convenient and much cheaper.

“In terms of my monthly fee, I’m all set because the MRT has its feeder buses to take passengers to the station and they use cashless payment,” she said.

However, Sharifah Khadijah feels that the payment method can be a little tedious for certain people, specifically for senior citizens and foreigners.

“I just think they should do it one step at a time, most people use their Touch ‘n Go card and the recurring issue is to find a place to top up. Those who want to use the bus for the first time, they have to buy the card first and you can’t just buy it anywhere,” she added.

Changing People’s View
In the beginning, the project was thought to be wasteful, judging from how expensive the overall cost was, together with the low ridership.

Perhaps people were not well-acquainted with the MRT. Granted, most people were still blurry with the term, thinking it was just a mishmash of the LRT.

The government, however, has always been very adamant in encouraging people to take public transportation over their private vehicles.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke recently vowed to achieve 40% of public transportation usage in 10 years.

Recalling what Sharifah Khadijah said earlier about her Rapid 100 travel pass, she is indeed all set as that is just one of the many initiatives that the government has been introducing to up the ridership figures.

Of course, the country’s economy is still recovering. Many ordinary Malaysians especially city dwellers are adopting a frugal lifestyle to survive the indefinite economic storm.

As for the millennials, some have cars, but fuel and tolls can be costly while others are not financially independent to buy one just yet, which is why they are taking the train to work.

For the most part, people are already content with the MRT services but that will not stop them from making their proposition on how to make it better.

Beating the Traffic
Mohamad Khalif Ali said Malaysia needs to have its public transport nearer to the housing area so people can access it easily.

“It depends on the area. If rural areas have their public transportation, the people there will depend on it, however, I don’t think it is suitable to have the MRT in rural areas because to me it belongs in the city “I live in Seremban and the people there don’t depend much on public transportation because it’s not systematic and also the traffic there is at a minimum,” he said.

He usually takes the train during peak hours from Sungai Jernih to Bukit Bintang, one of the busiest stations in the line.

Location-wise, the MRT is designed to reduce the usage of personal vehicles as it connects passengers to city spots and business districts.

Taking the crowded train after work during those grim peak hours can be dispiriting but it sure beats getting stuck in traffic for hours. Yet, why is the traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur still prevalent, despite the increase in ridership on all modes of public transportation? Perhaps that is a question for another day.

Although we still have a long way to go, the country’s transportation network has undergone several significant upgrades leading to more people feeling confident about taking the trains.

Maybe in several years, Malaysia might be in the same league as countries with efficient train systems which will put it higher in the world’s most liveable cities rank.