A quiet start to Malaysia’s first MRT, but commuters happy

An MRT train is pictured on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line on December 16, 2016. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa
An MRT train is pictured on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line on December 16, 2016. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 ― The first phase of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) mass rapid transit (MRT) line started its maiden service at 6am today smoothly.

Despite having only a handful of passengers at the Semantan station for the first service, the train arrived on time as shown in the schedule and passengers only had to wait five minutes, at the most, for the next train to arrive.

When met at the Sungai Buloh station, accountant Mohd Zariff said he was excited to ride on the train as an alternative to riding his motorcycle to work in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

“I usually ride my bike, but I am testing this out to see if it is going to be convenient for me to commute to work on a daily basis.

“Once the free offer has ended, I will have to fork out RM6.80 for a return trip and although it is more expensive than riding my bike, I wouldn't mind taking the train if it is more convenient and less tiring,” the 27-year-old told Malay Mail Online.

An MRT train is pictured on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line on December 16, 2016.
An MRT train is pictured on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line on December 16, 2016.

A train ride from Semantan to Sungai Buloh took only about 30 minutes, about a fraction of the time taken if one would drive the distance from both locations.

Like Mohd Zariff, another commuter who only wanted to be known as Ros, said she was also riding the train to see if it can be her new daily means of transport to-and-from work in Damansara Perdana.

“I currently ride the KTM train to Kepong and switch to feeder bus so I am hoping this line will stop near my workplace.

“Besides it is free, so let's see how it goes,” said the administration assistant.

At the launching ceremony of the first phase of MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a one month free ride for all MRT services beginning today.

This, he said, will also be extended to the new feeder bus service.

Not all of the MRT’s first passengers were rushing off to work though. A 53-year-old man who only wanted to be known as Phang said he was riding the train to familiarise himself with the stops.

“I am from Rawang and if I can get to the 1Utama Shopping Mall by train, I wouldn't mind taking it each time I want to go there,” he said.

The 12 stations currently opened are: Sungai Buloh, Kampung Selamat, Kwasa Damansara, Kwasa Sentral, Kota Damansara, Surian, Mutiara Damansara, Bandar Utama, Taman Tun Datuk Ismail, Phileo, Pusat Bandar Damansara and Semantan.

The first phase involves 21km of elevated tracks between the Sungai Buloh and Semantan stations in Bukit Damansara.

A check by Malay Mail Online found most shops namely at the Semantan, Phileo Damansara, TTDI and Sungai Buloh stations were yet to be opened.

Except for the Mutiara Damansara station, which only one convenient store was opened that sells newspapers, light food and drinks, other shops were still close.

It was also to note that the parking facility at the Phileo Damansara was still under construction.

According to a staff from one of the stations, most shops were suppose to be opened today but experienced delay due to renovation works.

There was only two minor glitches this morning when the doors of the train did not open at two stops.

Commuters catch a ride on the maiden MRT service, which will be free to the public for a period of one month.
Commuters catch a ride on the maiden MRT service, which will be free to the public for a period of one month.

However, there was no chaos as there were only about 20 passengers onboard at any given time between 6am and 10.30am.

This number of riders is significantly lesser than other train lines where commuters are packed like sardines in the carriages during the early morning and evening rush hours.

One MRT staff at one of the stations hazarded a guess that not many in the Klang Valley were aware that the train service starts today.

“In fact, many wanted to ride the train during our test runs but we believe the ridership will definitely increase in time to come,” she told Malay Mail Online when approached.

Phase two of the SBK line, which will comprise the remaining 19 stations between Semantan to Kajang, is scheduled for operations in July 2017.

The line will include a 9.5km underground route and will include stops at Pasar Seni, Muzium Negara, Bukit Bintang and Tun Razak Exchange among others.

Currently, the feeder bus service covers 25 routes from all stations, except the Kwasa Damansara station.

Commuters catch a ride on the maiden MRT service.
Commuters catch a ride on the maiden MRT service.

After the free ride offer expires, the fare for feeder bus will be set at RM1 per trip.

Senior citizens above age 60, those with disabilities and students, meanwhile, are eligible for a 50 per cent fare discount for the bus service.

More information is available at www.rapidkl.com.my

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