Moving on track in becoming an economic powerhouse, the month of April has been an eventful one for Iskandar Malaysia and Johor with multiple announcements on public transportation and connectivity.
It was announced that the Gemas to Johor Bahru electric double-tracking railway project will become a catalyst to further develop and transform Segamat district and Johor as a whole.
“This project will cover 197km of rail and pass through 11 stations and I’m confident that economic activities will be further boosted,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when performing the ground breaking of the Gemas-Johor Bahru PLBE project.
Prior to this, it was reported that the construction of the 192km twin tracks project which is estimated to cost RM9.4 billion was held up due to several factors, including its design and public feedback.
More good news is in store as work on the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT) is expected to start in the first quarter of next year and phase one of the project is slated for completion by mid-2021.
On the funding for the project, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) Chief Executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the Federal Government had allocated RM1bil while RM1.6bil would come from the private sector to fund the RM2.6bil IMBRT.
IMBRT Director Rudyanto Azhar said the project will cover almost 90% of Iskandar Malaysia with over 300km routes, of which 50km were trunk routes and the remaining were feeder routes.
The progress and development taking place in the state, where Iskandar Malaysia is located and is being transformed into an international metropolis has already been in the limelight with the High Speed Rail (HSR) announcement which is targeted to start running by 31st Dec 2026.
For those who are not aware, the KL-SG HSR is a strategic project between the governments of Malaysia and Singapore that aims to facilitate a 90-minute travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Eight stations are currently planned for the KL-SG HSR: Bandar Malaysia, Sepang-Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri stations in Malaysia and the Jurong East station in Singapore.
For local commute, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin witnessed the signing ceremony and pre-launch of myBas Johor Bahru service under the Stage Bus Service Transformation programme which will have SPAD and Handal Indah Sdn Bhd working hand in hand in the RM90 million project.
The myBas service will introduce 27 trunk and feeder routes covering a total of 16.8 million km trip distance per year with improved frequency of 20 minutes.
A total of 249 buses consisting of 222 diesel buses and 27 electric buses will be put into service in phases commencing from quarter 3 of 2018 until quarter 2 of 2019. The myBas buses will include long buses with seating and standing capacity of 65 pax, midi buses with capacity for 50 pax, mini buses with capacity for 30 pax, and long-sized electric buses with a capacity for 64 pax.
To help cut down the infamous Causeway jam between Johor Bahru and Singapore, works on the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, which will allow commuters to take the train across the border, are on track for completion in 2024.
When fully operational, the RTS Link will be able to carry about 10,000 people hourly in each direction. The RTS Link will cross the Johor Straits via a 25 metre high bridge.
From 1st January 2018, Malaysia also abolished toll charges at the Johor Causeway for vehicles using the Eastern Dispersal Link and Singapore followed by abolishing toll charges for vehicles exiting the Woodlands checkpoint.
Malaysia also reduced levy for lorries using the Second Link to RM50 last month, from the RM250 levy at the Johor Causeway if they used the Second Link, to reduce congestion at the Johor Causeway.
From 13th February 2018, Malaysia reduced toll charges for vehicles using the Second Link and starting from 1st April 2018, Singapore will reduce charges at their Tuas checkpoint during peak and non-peak hours.