SEPANG (April 9): Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to suspend the Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking Johor Bahru and the island republic for a six-month period.
This confirms reports that said Putrajaya on April 1 sought the six-month extension — its fifth request for more time — following a lapse of the last extension on March 31.
At a joint press conference with his Singapore counterpart Khaw Boon Wan at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said both countries are working on a new supplementary agreement to suspend the project.
“The suspension of the RTS project is for us to review in terms of the scope and costs on how to do it more efficiently and to lower down the fare.
“Under the current agreement, we find that the fare to be charged to commuters is on the high side. Thus, both parties have agreed to work together on lowering the ticket price, in order to encourage more people to use the RTS service once it is completed,” Loke added.
When asked about the costs incurred in suspending the project, Loke said all the details will be known once the supplementary agreement is finalised.
In the meantime, to reduce the congestion at the border, Loke said Malaysia has requested for an increase in the frequency of the Tebrau Shuttle, the shuttle train service between JB Sentral and Woodlands operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd.
The RTS will link Johor Baru with the Woodlands North station on Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast Mass Rapid Transit Line. It was originally targeted for completion by end-2024, but is behind schedule following several postponements at the request of Malaysia.
Malaysia has been asking for more time to confirm the joint-venture partner for the project. It initially selected Prasarana Malaysia Bhd to partner Singapore’s SMRT Corp as the operator, with the appointment scheduled for June 2018.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 9, 2019.