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Proposal for Selangor's Klang Valley Metropolitan Growth and Transport

Coordination Board
Cadangan untuk Badan Penyelaras Pembangunan dan Pengangkutan Wilayah
Lembah Klang
Prepared by:
Muhammad Zulkarnain Hamzah
Co-founder of TRANSIT (Association for the Improvement of Mass-Transit)
17 August 2015

Problem Statement
Urban transportation problems have been plaguing the Klang Valley for decades. Unsurprisingly, the
World Bank, in its June 2015 economic monitoring report outlined urban sprawl, high motorization rates
and inadequate public transport as factors to congestion and low usage of public transport in the Klang
Valley that result in nearly RM7 billion of losses per year. Lack of unified planning is blamed, and
metropolitan-level coordination, sustainable financing tools and car-restraint efforts are suggested.
In countries with active public transport culture, transportation planning has always been the domain of
middle and lower-level governments. The principle of transport and land use feedback cycle (additional
transport improves accessibility, which attracts more land uses, which generates more activities, and
require more transport) necessitates transportation and land use planning to be conducted iteratively
and laterally (instead of leaving the former to central agency). The ball is in the hands of the Selangor
state government to curb the present urban sprawl, which stands as the biggest factor to autodependency, as development and transportation approvals within Klang Valleys suburban
municipalities that surround KL are under the jurisdictions of the state and the local authorities.
High cost of highway-driven sprawl
Selangor is a very urbanized state with 92% of its population living in built-up urban areas (21% of total
gross land area) in 2012. Within 10 years leading to 2012, the total built-up area in the state increased
by about 20% (Appendices 1 and 2). If the sprawling rate continues at this rate, by 2062, half of the
state would have been lost to urbanization, which would not only cause serious transportation and
economic ramifications, but social and environmental tragedies as well.
Imagine the proliferation of crime-ridden ghettos in poor, inaccessible neighbourhoods that suffer from
social immobility caused by inequitable access to KL-centric mass transit which mostly serve high-end
developments. Picture the worsening quality of life due to increasing traffic pollutions, collisions and
deaths, when the present death rate (2014) already on par with the bottom list of 3rd world nations.
Think of what the rampant deforestation of our already shrinking green lungs will do to magnify the heat
island effect, promote insect-borne diseases (due to dearth of natural predators) and ignite water runoff disasters such as landslide and flash flooding.

Klang Valley should have its own urban growth boundary to avoid new housing developments and
highways from expanding and choking the region. Growth in population, employment and retail
activities should occur within existing corridors earmarked for frequent public transport, through
upward (instead of outward) land use intensification activities. Targets should be firmed up, and
commitments from all local councils must be sought to encourage cooperation for long-term growth
sustainability and discourage competition for short-term development windfalls. The maturing suburbs
already show signs of aging, and dependence on revenues from newer, far-flung growth to cover up
(roads, pipes, drains, sewers etc) maintenance shortfall in older suburbs is never a sustainable solution.
Limited range of movement for non-motorized transport
Limited access highways create limited access neighbourhoods with poor pedestrian and public
transport connectivity. This creates a situation where localities have greater car-oriented access to
regional centers tens of miles away, and weaker non-motorized access to their adjacent neighbouring
areas just a few meters away. Dominance of high-speed highways coupled with proliferation of higher
density developments along the regional highways further distorts regional-to-local public transport
alignments. There is a lack of coherence in local-to-regional development corridors and hierarchies.
Great cities with vibrant places and efficient public transport have one thing in common: they have a
refined grid pattern of road network that supports both walking and transit use. To head northwest, one
would only head north (once) and then west (once). Since post-merdeka motorization era, our
labyrinthine roadways and dead-ends have been constructed to facilitate speed, reduce stop-and-go
motions and promote high-density developments that exude lifestyle exclusivity (Figure 1). One would
have to head south, east, north and finally west (sometimes repeatedly) for the aforementioned trip,
which totally undermines the basic principle of public transport and pedestrian behavior.

KUALA LUMPUR
Figure 1: Comparison of street blocks shows the lack of pedestrian-friendliness of KL streets

Figure 2: Importance of maximizing pedestrian circulation coverage around public transport nodes
The effective walking coverage (Figure 2) of many of street intersections in Klang Valley is very
problematic, due to the meandering path pedestrians have to endure to reach local destinations:
1. Road designs that speed up motor vehicles and limit pedestrian movement (e.g. wide street
corners and ramps, lack of sidewalks and crossings)
2. Facilities that lack pedestrian activity and safety (e.g. blank walls, lonely pedestrian bridges)
3. Land uses with footprints that narrow the range of pedestrian circulation (e.g. single access
neighbourhoods, gated communities, exclusive condo developments which deny their adjacent
housing blocks direct access to the nearest public transport node)
4. Placement of regional infrastructure that disrupts synergy with potentially efficient local or
semi-regional bus lines (e.g. state/municipal approval of MRT station placement at mid-blocks
instead of at street intersections where bus lines intersect, approval of highways that blocks
pedestrian connection between separated neighbourhoods, etc.)
The factors that lead to meandering local pedestrian trips to public transport nodes are very local in
context, and hence local council leadership and stewardship in protecting the publics rights of way are
required. Currently, local plans do not touch on local public transport network synergy, which should
actually be a prerequisite to designing a metropolitan-wide network synergy in the Klang Valley. Federal
MRT, LRT and BRT planning to rectify what should be both a regional and local issue is insufficient
without local public transport network planning.
Lack of local-to-regional spatial and transport integration planning
Currently, Selangors structure and local plans do not have a refined view on how an integrated public
transport and urban intensification network should be formed in the Valley, other than conceptual
linkages between the city center (KLs CBD) and the regions suburban gravity centers (subcenters), and
among the regions subcenters (Appendix 3). In reality, other than downtown KL, regional subcenters

are very scatterred, sparsed and sprawled, with weakly observable clusters of office, retail and
commercial buildings that are hard to be distinguished from other sparser clusters of towers and
complexes (Appendix 4).
A successful public transport (transit) network depends on both local and regional public transport
network efficiency, which depends on these three core factors (Figure 3, 4):
1. Effective coverage of pedestrian network on each transit node, which involves placement of
stop nearest to intersection, and the permeability of the surrounding pedestrian network itself
2. Directness and frequency of each transit route, which avoids treating frequent, time-bound
commuters as relaxed and sight-seeing tourists
3. Synergy of the resulting frequent and simplified network, which yields greater overall access to
destinations than the sum of each route
Without meaningful deliniation of regional subcenters and local bus networks, it would be hard for
planners to plan for bus routes at the local level. These routes tend to be mere feeders to the federallyplanned regional rapid transit system. Feeders tend to be excessively meandering, and their objective
tends to fit regional, rather than local goals. These routes do not fit the round-the-clock activities that
local private vehicle modes capture, as feeder buses main job is only to feed to the regional system.

Figure 3: Straight-forward, frequent and focused lines instead of indirect, infrequent and dispersing lines
A catch-22 bad service-low ridership syndrome occurs when buses meander too much to capture riders,
riders avoid arduous bus trips, buses run with longer headway due to low ridership, more riders avoid
infrequent buses, and fewer buses meander even more areas due to revenue shortfall.

Lembah
Klang

Tempatan

Rapid Transit (RT):


MRT, LRT, BRT,
Komuter

Jaringan Bas Kerap


Tempatan (BKT)

Laluan Basikal Kejiranan


Van/Bas Mini Kejiranan
Kejiranan Rideshare/Kongsi-naikKereta (KnK) ke BKT/RT
Jalan
Perumah
an

Jaringan jalan mesra


pejalan kaki

Figure 4: Network synergy, emphasizing strategic connections and reduced redundancies

Solutions
This proposal recommends the Selangor state government to adopt international best practices in
controlling urban sprawl through iterative transportation and growth planning. An inter-PBT body with
regulatory powers would plan for delineation of urban growth boundary and regional subcenters. The
body would seek conformances of local planning activities to avoid greenfield developments from
encroaching protected agricultural and nature reserves beyond the planned urban growth boundary
(Appendix 1's inset), and direct new, infill and brownfield developments in existing regional subcenters
and along public transport lines that connect these subcenters together (Figure 5).
Facilitator for collaboration between municipalities
The long-term goal is for all municipalities which represent contiguous built-up land developments (the
continuous patch of lights that you can see from an airplane at night) in the Valley to form a crosssupervisory metropolitan growth and transportation planning board. The inter-PBT board would have
vested powers to release or withhold public transportation subsidies depending on municipal
conformance to agreed growth boundary and growth intensification shares, and would consist of
elected local councilors with decision-making weightage proportionately tied to the municipal
distribution of the Valley's population. Refer to Table 1 for an example of regional growth share targets.
Selangor can start initiating this with its own municipalities prior to Wilayah Persekutuan joining. The
polycentric growth and movement patterns of the Valley's suburban city centers (e.g. PJ, SJ, SA, BBB)
proves that the suburban municipalities yield a greater influence than Wilayah Persekutuan in charting
the future metropolitan growth and travel pattern in the Valley. This inter-PBT board would facilitate
transparent and representational inter-PBT consensus-building process of setting up anti-sprawl and
pro-transit targets for the Valley. The board would also create an accountability framework that
monitors alignment of PBT plans with the boards Regional Growth and Transportation Strategy.

Table 1: Example of regional housing growth targets in Metro Vancouver, Canada


The role of the board would be to deliver and monitor Klang Valleys Regional Growth and
Transportation Strategy, and this requires intense consensus-building with each local council on:
1.
2.
3.
4.

5.

6.
7.
8.

Clear demarcation of regional urban growth boundary and regional subcenters/local centers
Alignments and interchanges of frequent local buses with each other, and with regional RT stations,
that best meet the region's public transport network synergy
Alignments and interchanges of frequent local buses with feeding minibuses/vans and cycling paths,
that best meet the municipalities' local public transport network synergy
Clear demarcation of local subcenters and intensification areas adjacent to the frequent bus lines, and
the strategic designation/placement of these intensification areas should positively impact the resulting
local public transport network synergy (Note that iteration no.2, 3 and 4 can be repeated)
Setting up of zoning and development policies in these intensification areas, including requirements for
higher Floor Area Ratio (with harmonious transition to surrounding urban fabric), pedestrian-friendly
retail uses on the ground floor facing the main streets and pedestrian shortcuts, and measures related to
increasing pedestrian network permeability
Reconfiguration of streets to reduce travel time for local buses (queue jumps, priority traffic signals, busonly turns) and pedestrians (sharper junctions, pedestrian priority crossings, shortcuts)
Prioritization of pedestrian-friendly arterials over limited-access highways that best protect the region's
public transport network synergy and pedestrian network permeability
Formulation of sustainable and equitable funding strategy that are resilient to temporal and
geographical circumstances

Planning for Growth via Public Transport Network Synergy


Among the best metropolitan growth and transportation integration plan in the Anglophone world is
Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy (MV-RGS). The plan allocates growth intensification shares
to not only (hierarchical) urban centers, but also to areas around rapid transit stations and along lines of
frequent transit (which forms the regional Frequent Transit Network or FTN). Please refer to Figure 5 for
the region's FTN (in orange) and urban centers (in grey).

Buses that run every 15-mins or less on grid-based FTN are considered frequent transit. Transit-oriented
intensification areas along the FTN are called Frequent Transit Development Area (FTDA). Metro
Vancouver region designates areas 400m along the FTN as potential FTDA, and each municipality is
required to specify its detailed FTDA projects every few years (through its detailed plan not dissimilar to
our Rancangan Kawasan Khas or RKK).

Figure 5: Metro Vancouvers frequent transit network with urban centers in grey (LEFT), Surreys local
transit network plan with detailed Frequent Transit Development Area planning in red (RIGHT)
The same concept can be applied. A frequent public transport network can be formed through simplified
and interconnected Frequent Local Bus (Bas Kerap Tempatan or BKT) lines. These lines, when connected
together, should resemble as close as possible to a highly-efficient linearized grid, called the Frequent
Local Bus Network (Jaringan BKT or JBKT). A JBKT must not necessarily be confined within a municipal
boundary, as many urban activities occurring along municipal edges involve trips from neighbouring
municipalities (e.g. Uptown Damansara in Petaling Jaya and Bdr Baru Puchong in Subang Jaya).
Due to Klang Valleys labyrinthine road network, a grid-based JBKT would have to be supplemented with
minibuses (Bas Mini/Van Kejiranan) that serve neighbourhoods with indirect pedestrian access points. A
BKT line would have a frequency of 10-mins or less, and the resulting network would connect regional
subcenters (e.g. PJ New Town) with local subcenters (e.g. PJ Old Town) and MRT/LRT/BRT stations (e.g.
Stesen Tmn Jaya). The targeted intensification areas along these lines would be called Frequent Transit
Intensification Area, or Kawasan Tumpuan Pembangunan berpaksikan Transit Kerap (KTPAT).
Areas around regional RT stations also fall under KTPAT. As regional rapid transit is run by Federallyowned agencies (Prasarana, MRT Corp), they would be expected to coup as much value from
investments surrounding LRT and MRT stations, but PBTs would still be responsible to ensure these
most likely high-end developments would not limit station access to pedestrians from adjacent areas.

Pedestrian network permeability


Local council is the best agent to implement strategies to expand effective walk shed coverage of bus
stops and RT stations, and shorten walking time and distance among local destinations. Most of the
problems to pedestrian network permeability are due to miscalculations done prior to development
maturity (e.g. approvals for massive development footprints, winding roads without pedestrian
shortcuts), but there are plenty of ways to rectify past miscalculations.
Strategies to expand the range of pedestrian movement or circulation around public transport nodes:
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Introduction of local traffic system that


encourages stop-and-go motions for
greater pedestrian's 3S (security from
traffic and crime, speed of entire
walking journey, and simplicity of
movement)
Provision of sidewalk on both sides of
the street, and pedestrian crossing
opportunities at all corners of the street
junction
Provision of hazard-free sidewalk
through evenly laid-out pavement and
ramp, human-scaled trees (with easilymaintained
and
non-threatening
branches and roots) and clear line of
sight towards the front and across the
road (without obstructions such as
street furniture, traffic curbs and angled
parking lots)
Provision of at-grade pedestrian
crossing opportunities that correspond
to potential pedestrian vibrancy along
distributor and arterial corridors
especially for roads with four lanes or
less
Requirement of mid and high-rise
developers to build 'Privately-Owned
Publicly-Accessible Spaces' (POPS) and
promenades that cross over highways
to reconnect separated neighbourhoods

Figure 6: Example
improvement

of

pedestrian

permeability

6. Integration of standalone pedestrian underpasses and


overpasses into large, wheelchair-friendly building complexes, with retail
lots or kiosks along the routes and unrestricted street level entrance at
each road side and junction corner to avoid the feel of being trapped in a
pedestrian 'rat-maze'
7. Enforcement of lower traffic speed that corresponds to potential
pedestrian vibrancy along distributor and arterial corridors, with bold
speed limit signs erected every few hundred meters
8. Introduction of traffic calming measures such as raised crossings,
pedestrian islands, side bollards and formalized 'woenerf' street
designations where roads are treated as communal space
9. Breaking up of larger street blocks into smaller blocks with
inviting land uses and non-blank facades fronting the pedestrian path (e.g.
Figure 6 and 7)

Figure 7: Imagine the potential increased in accessibility and


densification of PJ New Town if Jalan Sultan that connects the center
with Tmn Bhg LRT station is converted into a vibrant pedestrian
throughway
Strategies to reduce threats to pedestrian safety and security:
1.
2.

3.

4.

5.
6.

Tightening up angles of street junctions to enforce pedestrian's right-of-way for turning vehicles, and
force drivers to abide to stop signs prior approaching non-signalized intersections
Erection of bold yield-to-pedestrian surface marks and sign posts at at-grade crossings, with ancillary
features (mandatory stop sign, display of maximum fine amount, flashing signal) that correspond to risk of
traffic violation
Encouragement of formal retail kiosks to flourish and diversify along pedestrian shortcuts, highway
pedestrian bridges or tunnels between bus stop/RT station and housing clusters, in order to beef up
walkway liveliness and security
Requirement for gated communities to provide multiple access routes to important destinations through
CCTV or card-only access points (only if the gated area does not block its adjacent land-use clusters from
walking to the nearest PT stop)
Requirement for regular patrolling (in cars or bikes) in order to be more responsive to snatch thefts in
neighbourhoods with isolated or lonely pedestrian sidewalks
Requirement for all-way stop signs at all critical local street junctions would not only encourage
pedestrian-friendly traffic flow, but also enable residents and patrol cars/bikes to easily spot potentially
escaping and speeding criminals who will most likely beat the stop signs

Revenue stream to fix sprawl-driven housing, transport and social issues


There are multiple ways to increase revenue to fund the implementation of the Klang Valleys Regional
Growth and Transportation Strategy. Popular funding measures implemented around the world are
congestion charges, licensing fees, employer levies, fuel surcharges, carbon taxes, mileage-based fees,
municipal fines, parking fees and property taxes. The last three measures are best suited for the
proposed inter-PBT body, as their spatial specificity and rate scalability make them politically viable.
Table 2 proposes five streams of revenue to fund the inter-PBT body's implementation activities.
The implementation activities can be tied back to municipal commitments to growth conformances. The
inter-PBT body should issue periodical progress reports of shares of housing, retail and employment
growth that occur within the identified subcenters and KTPAT. Municipalities would risk penalties or
withhold of infrastructure upgrades from the state government if they failed to conform to the agreed
urban growth boundary or the intensification share targets. However, land use indicator is simply not
enough to justify the success of the implementation activities.
Revenue
Stream

Purpose

Rate

Significance

Examples

Metropolitan
Property Tax

Fund purpose-built non-market


rental housing for low-income
households within KTPAT
(Subsidy rate depends on
household income and work
disability status)

Steeply progressive rates


on cumulative assessment
value (in excess of Klang
Valley's
median
assessment
value
threshold) of all owned
residential properties within
metropolitan borders

Curbs
speculation,
promotes social equity,
protects affordability and
avoids cheaper fringe
housing developments

Metro
Vancouver
taxes
residents for
regional
housing and
transit

Metropolitan
Land Value Tax
(LVT)

Fund road re-configuration


projects
for
permeable
pedestrian network
Fund
construction
and
maintenance of bus queue
jumps, priority signals

Fixed rate on cumulative


land value (in excess of
Klang Valley's median land
value threshold) of all
owned landed property
within metropolitan borders

Reduce the amount of


public-funded
local
transportation
improvements that is
privately captured

LVT
is
generally
applied
in
Denmark,
Hong Kong,
Singapore

Community
Contribution
Charge

Require developers to build


lively POPS or retail tunnels
over/underneath highways to reconnect neighbourhoods

Entire construction cost of


pedestrian connector that
cut across highways

Expand effective radius


of walkable distance
from public transport
next to highways

City
of
Vancouver,
City
of
Toronto

Maintenance
Fee on Highway
Concessionaire

Direct accountability to highway


concessionaires to dismantle
pedestrian barriers to public
transport

Entire maintenance cost of


pedestrian connector that
cut across highways

Highway
Maintenance
Specification
in
BC,
Canada

Revenue
Stream

Purpose

Rate

Significance

Examples

Property Tax on
Parking (only in
KTPAT areas)

Cover shortfall of federal


subsidy/fare collection of
frequent bus lines (BKT)
Fund bike lanes, smaller
van/bas kejiranan
Incentivize rideshare-to-bus
stop service for severely
isolated neighbourhoods

Fixed rate on total parking


surface area; rate tripled
for open-sky lots

Reduce traffic demand


along routes served by
frequent buses, increase
real land utilization and
productivity

City
Montreal

Fund regular patrolling of local


pedestrian network (can be
done simultaneously with traffic
enforcement)

Heavy penalty for illegal


parking and failure to yield
to
pedestrians,
with
constant enforcement in
KTPAT areas

Encourage
walking
safety
and
traffic
discipline

>20%
of
property
taxes go to
local police in
Canadian
cities

Municipal
Parking (only in
KTPAT areas)

Traffic-related
Fines

On-street parking rate of


around
2-to-5cents/min
depending on proximity to
bus line, prepaid amount
payable by SMS

of

Most transitfriendly cities


in Europe and
North
America

Table 2: Sustainable funding measures for regional public transport and land use improvements
Travel behavior indicator, especially mode share, would be typically measured by SPAD, and the interPBT body should work with SPAD to determine transportation performance measures that best fit the
local context. Currently, regional modal share is measured for inter-zonal peak hour commute at
selective transport hubs and cordon points. Extensive GIS pinpointing and travel diary-based OriginDestination survey, which would require higher sampling and interview costs, can measure round-theclock trip behavior at the local level. This gives a richer and relevant data to local councils in measuring
their implementation activities, such as share of bicycling or walking trips under 2km in Shah Alam or
share of bus trips made within 20 minutes to Kajang City Centre.

Appendix 1: Klang Valleys ten years of urban sprawl, and example (INSET) of Urban Growth Boundary
as practiced in Portland, United States

Appendix 2: Committed developments that will lead to even more sprawl

Appendix 3: Conceptual development corridors among conceptual subcenters with resemblance to


neither existing nor potential public transport network

Appendix 4: Scattered retail and commercial activities, implying the lack of prominent subcenters across
Klang Valley