The need for MRT
The chronic traffic jams and the lack of integration in Kuala Lumpur’s public transport network are real issues and something that most KLites can attest to and which I had experienced first hand. In fact, ask any KLite and they will tell you of their daily commute hassle of having to rise early at 6am-ish to brave almost an hour of traffic jam just to get to work on time.
In 2008 to 2009, for instance, I was staying briefly in Kuala Lumpur to report on its property market and relied heavily on the city’s public transport to get around. I was living with a friend in Kepong back then.
In order to get to work by 8.30am in KLCC, we would have to leave our apartment by 6.30am. The traffic would be back-to-back. Honking and swerving in and out of lanes were (and still is) the norm. If we were lucky, we would reach the city centre by 8 am, just in time to have breakfast at the local mamak stall.
At a press briefing that I had attended in 2009, former mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Dato’ Ahmad Fuad Ismail revealed almost one million cars would come in and out of the city DAILY, contributing to the massive traffic jams that you see right now.
In addition, a report by DBKL titled “Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020” stated that the root cause of the traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur is the decreasing percentage of public transport operators and the increasing number of car ownership.
For instance, between 1985 and 1997, Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) data showed that the modal share of public transport decreased significantly from 34.2% to 19.7%. DBKL cited this major shift away from public transport (in particular, bus transport) was partly due to higher personal affluence leading to an increase in car ownership and to deficiencies in the bus services.
With cars being relatively affordable in Malaysia, compared to Singapore, it is thus no wonder most Malaysians prefer to drive. In fact, there is a particular saying among KLites that “it is better to drive than to take public transport in KL.”
While the government has responded by building different train lines to alleviate the daily traffic congestions since the 1990s, latest data from DBKL showed that the penetration rate among consumers taking public transport in the city is extremely low at well below 50%. In comparison, Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s population taking public transportation account for 80 and 75%, respectively. In Singapore, almost 50% of the population takes the MRT to work
With Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley’s population expected to reach 10 million by 2020, the government had flagged transportation as one of the key areas in order to transform KL into a world-class sustainable city. Thus, the KVMRT Line project was identified as one of the Entry Point Projects (EPP) under the government’s ETP road map to take Malaysia into a developed country status by 2020.
With the Line 1 now fully operational, we took a ride on the MRT and sussed out the areas that you should watch out for. Flip the page to find out more!
TUN RAZAK EXCHANGE
The Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) development is set to be an international financial district while the TRX MRT will be the largest underground MRT interchange station. This iconic project will have a GDV of RM40 billion and a total gross floor area of 20 million square feet. Developed along Jalan Tun Razak, TRX will be Malaysia’s first dedicated financial district much like Raffles Place/Shenton Way in Singapore. The master plan is impressive with a mix of residential, commercial and office precincts.
In addition, there are plans to integrate the station with TREC, located just adjacent to TRX. Like TRX, TREC is home to Malaysia’s first dedicated entertainment enclave. This project has been earmarked as one of the zones that will receive support for its development as part of KL Tourism Master Plan 2015 – 2025. TREC is endorsed by the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism under the National Key Economic Area, EPP 8 program. The anchor tenant is Zouk KL with 5 distinctive entertainment zones and 3 event spaces. There are 77 outlets with a total of 200,000 sq ft of lettable space offering lifestyle + F&B choices, with lease-only units ranging from 200 to 5,000 sq ft. According to iPropertyiQ.com’s data, the median price for homes here is around RM401 per sq ft.
Although high-end projects have yet to be launched in TRX, this is going to be ‘another KLCC’ where prices can fetch as high as RM2,000 per sq ft. TRX will have a very cosmopolitan demographic once the entire project is completed, much like KLCC.
According to iProperty.com’s listings, the asking price for a three-bedroom apartment nearby called Ixora here fetches between RM1,500 to RM2,200 in rent per month. Additionally, iPropertyiQ.com data showed that Ixora has experienced significant price appreciation from RM282,263 in February 2016 to RM426,439 in March 2017. This represents some 51% in capital appreciation.
Lendlease will be among the developers transforming Kuala Lumpur’s city skyline with its first urban regeneration project undertaken in Malaysia called the TRX Lifestyle Quarter. A joint-venture between Lendlease and TRX City Sdn Bhd, the mixed use development will comprise The Exchange TRX (a premier retail lifestyle destination), TRX Residences (six residential towers) and a business hotel overlooking the TRX Park.
Two residential towers are slated to be launched next year – residents will have quick access to the HSR station to be sited in Bandar Malaysia which will link Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in 90 minutes flat. Not only that, Bandar Malaysia has been designated for the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) initiative, where the Satellite Services Hub located within is expected to create some 60,000 direct and indirect jobs. The DFTZ will have a GDV of RM286 billion.
The Cochrane MRT station will be underground and is located just a stone throw’s away from IKEA Cheras and MyTown shopping centre. Currently an undeveloped area overlooking apartments and flats, Cochrane is expected to be a highly sought after site for residential and commercial developments as it is a prime location. Cochrane is also served by AEON Big Jalan Peel, places of worships and schools.
While the station’s location is very strategic, it suffers from a design flaw whereby there is no direct underground pedestrian linkway that links the MRT station to both IKEA and MyTown. As such commuters will have to exit the station and then cross over two roads with no pedestrian links just to get to them. This is a pity as IKEA and MyTown would have greatly benefitted from the potential footfall of around 400,000 daily ridership.
There were no residential developments here in the past except for the low-cost apartments. However, of late, several new launches have been noted including One Cochrane and Sunway Velocity. We can expect the launch price to be around RM1,400 per sq ft similar to Bukit Bintang’s average per sq ft price.
The Taman Connaught MRT station is strategically located near the busy intersection of the Cheras-Kajang Highway and just opposite Cheras Sentral Mall. This massive mall measures over 1 million sq ft with over 450 retail outlets ranging from fashion to electrical goods spread over eight floors. Some of the key anchor tenants here include MR D.I.Y, Japan Home Centre and Jaya Grocer.
Again, there is no direct connection to the mall which would have greatly benefitted from the footfall from the MRT project. During our last visit, the mall’s tenants suffered greatly from lack of human traffic and several shops remain either closed or untenanted. Still, workers here said that this was a significant improvement before the MRT station was completed.
The good news is the upcoming Cheria Heights Apartment will be connected to the MRT station via a link way bridge. The MRT station will also serve residents living in Taman Orkid Desa, Taman Cheras Hartamas and Taman Len Seng, all which have a good mix of landed homes and apartments. iPropertyiQ.com data revealed that the median price for apartments and landed homes here are around RM174 per sq ft and RM394, respectively.
Kajang is the last station on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line. It will serve as an interchange station to the KTM Komuter Rawang-Seremban Line serving the townships of Taman Mahkota, Taman Desa Seroja, Taman Bukit, Taman Jelita, Taman Pasir Emas, Taman Tanming Emas, Taman Sri Reko, Taman Hijau, Taman Bukit and Taman Kajang Jaya.
The area is mainly dominated by residential enclaves comprising landed terraced homes, semi-detached and bungalows. Some of the amenities here include places of worship, educational institutions and banks. The median price for landed homes here is around RM190 per sq ft.
According to iProperty.com’s listings, the asking rental price for a three-bedroom condominium nearby called Sentral Residences I & II is RM1,100 per month. Notable new launches here include a commercial development called SOFO @ MKH Avenue starting from RM589,000 or around RM580 per sq ft on average.
MKH Avenue which offers retail cum SOFO units will be within walking distance to the Kajang MRT station. (Image Credit: Khalil Adis)