I have been to a number of cities with superb rail networks before but I hardly took any notice of them. I simply took the convenience that came along with them for granted. I have come to conclude that any good big city will always have a good rail network servicing the city and its suburbs. The fact that a city has one is not something that quickly impresses me anymore.

While I was wandering the streets of Paris, the issue of the planned mass rail transit system in Kuala Lumpur began to dominate Malaysian headlines. Paris is famous for many things and one of those things is its dense rail network called the Metro. With the MRT in mind, I began to compare the Metro to the existing rail network in Kuala Lumpur.

It is probably unfair to make that comparison. The French capital began building its system nearly a century earlier than Kuala Lumpur did. The French had a lot of time to build and to perfect their network while Kuala Lumpur is still building its network. Nevertheless, there are things Kuala Lumpur can learn from Paris.

One of them is definitely how the lines are integrated, given how badly the network in Kuala Lumpur performs in this respect. Prime examples of lack of integration are the monorail line at KL Sentral, the light rail transit stations at Masjid Jamek and the distance between the Bukit Nanas monorail station and the Dang Wangi station on the Kelana Jaya LRT line.

The planned MRT is poised to repeat these past mistakes. One station belonging to the MRT line is not going to be constructed at KL Sentral but somewhere near to the transportation hub of the city. The distance between the hub and the planned MRT station appears to be farther than the distance between the hub and the nearby monorail station.

The need to travel the distance to change trains is an annoyance for commuters but sometimes it is understandably unavoidable. The issue of cost, land ownership or other innocent constraints may prevent perfect integration between lines. In Paris, there are places where one has to walk for a considerable distance to change trains.

The ticketing system in Paris fortunately makes the action less of a chore. Whatever the train line a commuter needs to take, he or she simply needs to buy the ticket once. There is no need to buy a different ticket for a different line. That means there is no need to queue at the counter or machine multiple times. It also means a commuter need not pass through a ticket verification barrier one time too many.

In Kuala Lumpur, different lines have their own tickets. The need to purchase multiple tickets because one needs to change trains causes long queues. Add to that the fact that these machines in Kuala Lumpur tend to accept exact change only, never mind that some of these machines tend to be offline typically; riding the trains can be an extremely stressful experience.

There is of course the Touch ”˜N Go and other cards that partially address the problem of lack of ticket integration across all the intracity lines.

Yet, not everybody can afford to store considerable credit in those cards and even if affordability is not an issue, not everybody wants to use it. Many times, individuals need to ride the intra-city train infrequently. That makes these cards a relatively expensive investment for a person in a country where a lot of individuals earn less than RM2,000 per month.

My suggestion for the new MRT line and together with the LRT network is this: if the intracity lines cannot be integrated physically with verification barriers placed everywhere, at least integrate its ticketing systems. Since the LRT is under Syarikat Prasarana Negara and so too the MRT eventually, surely such an integration will not be too hard to do.

And yes, please make those machines a little bit more flexible in accepting bills.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

First published in The Malaysian Insider on March 2 2011.

3 Responses to “[2329] Just one ticket, please”

  1. on 05 Mar 2011 at 12:32 moo_t

    Tell that to bn umnoputra , they will say it is impossible, to their pocket. Oh wait, mobile Telco can do that to split the connection fees for 2 decades, why public transportation can’t do that? Yeah, because checking ticket are “complicated”, in electronic-computing era?

  2. on 09 Mar 2011 at 10:03 diplodocus

    what do you think of Mahathir’s new book?

  3. on 09 Mar 2011 at 23:19 Hafiz Noor Shams

    I haven’t read the book. So, I’ll reserve my opinion.

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