PKR MP wants transport minister to explain low 180,000 ridership forecast for RM50.2b MRT3

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 ― The planned third Mass Rail Transit line connecting the Klang Valley that is expected to cost RM50.2 billion would only ferry some 180,000 passengers in the few years of operation scheduled to begin by 2028, according to official projections provided by the Transport Ministry.

Tanjong Malim MP Chang Lih Kang said the government projection provided in a parliamentary written reply appears unreasonably low and questioned the financial viability of the expensive project, estimated to cost up to RM1 billion per kilometre.

Chang urged Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong to explain.

“The ridership projection... is against all logic. Therefore, either the minister gave a fake answer in the Parliament on MRT3 projection, or projections on MRT1 and 2 were vastly inaccurate. If so, the previous government was deceived into building the extravagant MRT1 and 2,” the PKR lawmaker said in a statement today.

MRT3, which would form a 51km circle line that connects with the Kajang-Sungai Buloh and Putrajaya-Sentul lines, is expected to ferry just 180,300 passengers daily although the ministry said the ridership could increase to over a million by 2060.

Projections for daily ridership on the MRT1 and MRT2 lines are 442,000 and 529,900 respectively.

Chang noted that the distance covered by the MRT3 is 5km shorter than that covered by MRT2.

He pointed out that MRT3 will also have three fewer stations than MRT2 and wondered by the government’s projecting the number of commuters who will ride it at not even 35 per cent of the second line.

Government critics have questioned the project's massive cost after Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat earlier this month that the circle line would cost at least RM50.2 billion, roughly RM1 billion per kilometre.

Tengku Zafrul previously explained in a partial breakdown that construction alone could cost up to RM34.3 billion. Land acquisition and project management were estimated at RM8.4 billion and RM5.6 billion respectively, with another RM1.9 billion earmarked for “other costs” to be detailed later.

Chang noted that the average daily ridership for Kajang-Sungai Buloh line, which has been in operation since 2017, is still less than half of the original projection of 442,000 daily ridership even at its peak year in 2019, when the former Pakatan Harapan government introduced cheap monthly passes as part of measures to alleviate living cost pressure.

“Not only was it nowhere near its target, it was not even half of its projection of 442,000,” he said.

“Hence, I demand an explanation from the learned minister,” he added.

The MRT Circle Line would span some 51km with 33 stations, according to information by its operator MRT Corp. The Kajang-Sungai Buloh line has 29 stations, 42km in length, while MRT 2 or the Putrajaya Line has 36 stations at the length of 56km.

The circle line is to be the integrating network that would connect existing MRT, LRT, KTM and monorail lines and intended to service densely populated areas in the Klang Valley.

Four-fifths of the project will feature elevated rail lines while the rest will be underground, according to MRT Corp.