The big-budget Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT), if implemented well, could improve the connectivity within major business hubs in Iskandar Malaysia. Hence, it can encourage the working population to be more mobile and they might even consider staying at newer areas.

Currently, when it comes to making buying decisions, CBRE|WTW director Jonathan Lo observes that local buyers tend to choose places where they grow up in or which are close to their parents or relatives.

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So, distance and familiarity are still their main considerations. If distance is not an issue, it will allow people to rethink their needs, especially for young homebuyers who are looking for more lifestyle offerings.

KGV International Property Consultants (Johor) Sdn Bhd executive director Samuel Tan reckons that the IMBRT will serve as an affordable and convenient mode of transportation. It could change Johoreans’ mindset to switch from driving to taking public transport.

“I am sure this will be another new consideration by potential buyers as there will be potential savings with less driving needed. The tenants’ market will also become larger as some tenants may also choose places plied by the buses,” he says.

With IMBRT’s future integration with the Rapid Transit Link System (RTS), KTM Komuter and Gemas-Johor Bahru electrified double-track railway network, there will be more reasons to buy or rent properties near IMBRT stations.

Under the IMBRT, the central business district will be served by the Automated Rapid Transit. This is a new technology and it will greatly boost the inner-city transportation network, he adds.

Under the planning of IMBRT, there will be three main routes serving the west (to Iskandar Puteri), the north (to UTM Skudai) and the east (to Taman Desa Jaya), covering about 90% of the JB district.

Scattered along these three routes are numerous housing schemes. Some of the undeveloped lands along the routes will likely be converted into transit-oriented developments, hence optimising land use in JB.

“The infrastructure development is expected to rejuvenate some of the old buildings or areas along the main routes and this will spur local economic growth too,” says Tan.

A catalyst to the tourism sector

Gather Properties Sdn Bhd real estate negotiator Usha Lachumanan concurs that the IMBRT will be a game changer not only to the property market but also to tourism, making JB another destination for local and foreign tourists from Singapore.

“The biggest obstacle in attracting foreign tourists is the difficulty in navigating the public transport in JB, as there isn’t any clear information about the bus routes and it’s hard to travel within cities in Iskandar Malaysia without driving,” she adds.

With IMBRT, foreign tourists who have visited Singapore could extend their adventure to JB by taking RTS and moving around tourist destinations in JB through IMBRT as it could link them to interesting places in Skudai, Tebrau and Medini.

KGV’s Tan notes that with 33 stations set over three BRT trunk lines, the IMBRT will definitely create lots of business opportunities and enhance the growth of property developments within its vicinity, further adding value to other secondary property markets.

“The stations themselves also have a general ‘wealth creation’ effect or profiteering impact on property prices. In some stations or hubs, residential units and offices are set right on top of these stations, so they will enjoy the latent benefits of an integrated residential-commercial combination,” he says.

This story first appeared in the E-weekly on April 2, 2021. You can access back issues here.

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