Malaysia: After a four-hour express bus ride, Suraj Panicker gets down at the crowded, smokey and humid Pudu Raya bus terminal. Pushing his way through the crowd, he is greeted by a long traffic snarl outside. With luggage in hand, he has a 15-minute walk ahead to the Pasar Seni LRT station, where he’ll take a train to Kelana Jaya. By now, he is sweating and his hands are aching from the heavy load he is lugging.
Suraj puts up with such conditions whenever he comes to Kuala Lumpur from Johor Baru. He routinely travels every three weeks here for meetings and stays for four days each time.
"I dread coming here. The pollution and jams around the terminal are a put off," he complains.
Like everyone else who is fed up with the conditions around the Pudu Raya terminal, Suraj can sigh with relief as the Government is planning to build an integrated transport terminal hub at Bandar Tasik Selatan.
He will soon be able to disembark at the Bandar Tasik Selatan terminal, which will cater to buses from the southern part of Malaysia.
From there he can hop onto the KTM Kommuter, or the Express Rail Link transit or the RapidKL light rail transit (formerly known as Putra LRT and Star LRT).
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy says passengers from the south will have a choice of transport at the hub.
"Those travelling to KLIA can take the ERL transit from here, instead of having to do so from KL Sentral, while others can choose the bus, taxi or other train services to get to their destination," says Chan.
Suraj, like other frequent travellers, is glad that he will be able to avoid the Pudu Raya area.
"I do not mind taking the LRT to go to Kelana Jaya, as long as it is convenient and hassle-free," he says.
According to Chan, another integrated terminal will be built to cater to buses from the East Coast.
"It will be located next to the RapidKL Gombak line. From there passengers from the East Coast will be able to take the train, buses and taxis to their destinations," Chan says.
Both projects, which are under the 9th Malaysia Plan, aim to reduce congestion in Pudu Raya.
"The area is crowded, polluted and cannot cope with the increasing number of passengers coming into and leaving the Klang Valley," Chan explains.
Both the hubs, he adds, will be connected by covered pedestrian walkways and have proper pick-up and drop-off points.
"There will also be plenty of buses and taxis waiting for passengers at any given time to ensure no one has to wait," he says.
There are also plans to have a terminal hub for buses from the northern part of Malaysia. However, the ministry has yet to decide on the location.
The Government is also setting up a commission to oversee and regulate public transport system in the Klang Valley. The commission will plan, co-ordinate and licence all modes of public transport in the Klang Valley.
Several roads will be constructed or upgraded to improve traffic flow in major cities. These include the construction of ring roads and bypasses in George Town, Seremban and Johor Baru.
Also, the SMART project (storm water management and road tunnel) is scheduled for completion next year. The motorway section of the tunnel is expected to ease traffic congestion at the southern gateway to Kuala Lumpur.
There are also plans to develop rail transport and enhance the performance of ports to fight stiff competition from regional ports.
Rail infrastructure will be upgraded and the communications system modernised. These include track realignment and improvement works from Taiping to Padang Rengas in Perak and from Tanjung Aru to Tenom in Sabah.
New rail stations will also be built to serve growth areas as well as replace old ones. However, old stations which have heritage value will be restored.
River transport to support socioeconomic development in Sarawak will also be improved.