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Urban transport in Kuala
Lumpur

Ibrahim Bin Wahab

Kuala
Lumpur,
the capital
city of
Malaysia, has continued to experience
population
expansion,
economic
growth and increased urban travel. Increased
traffic volume,
poor public
transport and lack of statutory powers
remain the salient features of urban
transport in Kuala Lumpur. A series of
studies have been carried out but the
strategies adopted have been unable to
cope with the continued
increase in
traffic volume and changing travel demands. The city authority’s lack of
statutory power further exacerbates the
transport problems. Without restructuring the present transport organization at both the central and local level, total
transport strategies cannot be successfully implemented.
The author is with the School of Houslng,
Building and Planning, Universitl Sains
Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia.

’ Kuala Lumpur started history as a trading
and mining town. When the British took
over its administration
economic activity
expanded and it attracted more people.
Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the state
of Selangor and is the present capital of
Malaysia. However, when Kuala Lumpur
was proclaimed a federal terntory on the 1
February 1974 it ceased to be the capital
of the state of Selangor.
* The Klang Valley region, a river basin of
the Klang River in the state of Selangor on
the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, is
now
the
fastest
growing
region
in
MalaysEa. The region covers the area of
the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur and
the districts of Gombak,
Hulu Langat,
Petaling and Klang in the state of Selangor. It covers an area of 284 300 hectares, approximately
2.1% of the total area of
peninsular Malaysia. It encompasses the
national capital of Kuala Lumpur, the new
Selangor state capital of Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya, Port Klang, the new towns of Bangi and Selaying. It is now the focus of
modernization
and industrialization,
the
political hub, the focal point of transport
continued on page 237

236

The location of Kuala Lump&
and its neighbouring
towns of Petaling
Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang and Bangi within the Klang Valley region’ makes this the most densely populated
and one of the most developed
areas in Malaysia (Figure l).” Klang Valley is the fastest growing region in the country and dominates
industrial,
commercial
and service industry in Malaysia. Its rapid growth has generated a phenomenal
population expansion
in Kuala Lumpur (Figure 2).
This growth trend, with the population
influx largely dominated
by
the 1.5 to 50 age group, is expected
to generate
an increase in total
employment
in Kuala Lumpur from 554 000 in 1980 to 1 290 600 in the
year 2000.’ The employment
participation
rate for the year 2000 is
expected to be 43.2% as compared with 38% in the year 1980. Median monthly household income is estimated to rise to M$2 330 (US$932) for the year 2000 from M$999 (USS400) in 1980. These statistics indicate that travelling

patterns
will change and that greater intervention
is
needed to ensure that a more effective transport
system is provided.
This paper reviews some of the long standing
issues of transport
in
Kuala Lumpur
and suggests that alternative
strategies
with greater
emphasis on public transport
should be considered.

Transport studies before the 1980s
The first urban transport
study to attempt to solve Kuala Lumpur’s
traffic problems was carried out in 1963-64 and aimed to offer greater accessibility
and an improved
transport
infrastructure.
Among other
things it recommended
more investment
in road development
and
traffic management.
The continuing
increase in population
and economic activity had resulted
in greater mobility.
As the need for more
public transport was ignored more people become dependent
on private
transport.
Many of the policies formulated
in the first transport
study
therefore
failed to achieve their desired...
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