Should Congestion Charge Be Imposed in Kuala Lumpur?

I am writing this post in response to a letter written by a reader in the New Straits Times.  The letter says:

TRAFFIC congestion is a daily and almost day-long occurrence in Kuala Lumpur city centre. It is worse during the weekend, when a motorist can be stuck in a jam for as long as two hours.

In such a situation, it is often advisable to call your date/client to cancel any appointment you may have made.

It is for these reasons that I fully support the implementation of a congestion-charge (CC) system in Kuala Lumpur.

We should model our CC system on that implemented in London, where they have successfully reduced traffic congestion.

Motorists wishing to enter the city centre should pay a reasonable fee, which, it is hoped, would discourage them from going into the city alone in their vehicle.
The collected congestion-charge fee could be used to improve the public transportation system.

However, the CC system should only operate during certain times of the day, for example, from 8.30am to 7pm.

Exceptions must be given to people whose homes are within the congestion-charge area, and to taxis and buses.

Although it is not cheap, I believe that such a system can help reduce city-centre traffic congestion significantly. On the first day of the implementation of the scheme in London, there was a 25 per cent drop in traffic.

It is sad to think that although we have one of the best road systems in Asia, we cannot enjoy them because of the horrendous traffic conditions in city centres. We must act now.

Though I myself would love to enjoy traffic-free driving, we need to stop a bit and do some thinking. Before we start copying London’s congestion charge, do we know what London’s public transportation is like?  Let me tell you about London’s public transportation; from their black cabs and red buses to their underground tube; it’s a maze of easy getting around.

In London, you need not negotiate with the black cab drivers. No need to wonder if they are going your direction or not. No need to worry if they are going to use the meter or not.  Back in Kuala Lumpur, (generally) it’s the reverse of what I experienced in London.

In London, the buses are aplenty and keeps to their schedule.  In Kuala Lumpur, you will sometimes have to wait for an hour and the elusive bus is nowhere to be found.

Take a look at the above extensive reach of London’s Tube.  In London, their tube stretches 50 kilometers in 6 zones. We have a long way to go before we reach their kind of rail system.  As a comparison, take a look at Kuala Lumpur’s rail map below.  See the stark contrast?

Therefore, before we start being a copycat, let’s give those affected an alternative. Not just any alternative but reasonable, workable, convenient alternatives.  In this case, Kuala Lumpur needs to have not a good but great public transportation first before we consider imposing congestion charge.

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1 Comment »

  1. nelson said,

    June 29, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    fully agree with u! i’m oso a public transport lover but not in KL… government shouldn’t built many highways and said that to reduce the traffic jam, this can solve for short term only.

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