RTS fares will be affordable for daily commuters, says KL minister

(From left) Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Finance and Economics Senior Minister Azmin Ali, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, Johor Menteri Besar Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohammad, Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Lo
(From left) Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Finance and Economics Senior Minister Azmin Ali, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, Johor Menteri Besar Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohammad, Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, Mr Khaw Boon Wan and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Fares on the much anticipated cross-border Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link will be affordable as prices will be set with the low-income group and daily commuters in mind to make the project viable, said Malaysia's Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong yesterday.

He added that ticket prices will be the same on both sides of the Causeway, factoring in conversion rates.

SMRT Corporation and Prasarana Malaysia, joint venture partners for the project, have already settled on the fee structure.

Speaking to reporters in Johor Baru after a ceremony at the Causeway to mark the official resumption of the project, Dr Wee said: "Whatever we decide here, say X amount in Malaysia, Singapore will charge the same in Singapore currency. It will not be costly as we need to consider the low-income group and daily commuters to make this project viable."

The fares will be announced before operations begin, he added. The project is scheduled for completion in 2026.

The 4km RTS Link will connect Woodlands North MRT station on Singapore's Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) to Bukit Chagar, a planned elevated terminal in Johor Baru.

The current KTM shuttle train service will cease operations within six months after the RTS Link becomes operational.

Both countries had acknowledged a need to alleviate traffic congestion at the Causeway, which facilitates about 300,000 crossings daily.

The RTS Link will continue to feature the co-location of Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities, so that passengers undergo CIQ clearance only once - at their point of departure.

"If you're a Singaporean commuter, you will only need to get clearance in Woodlands. For Malaysian commuters, you will be cleared at Bukit Chagar," Dr Wee said.

The minister added that the journey would take only five minutes and, during peak hours, trains will be deployed at an interval of 3.6 minutes.

This would allow up to 300,000 passengers to be transported per day as the RTS Link has a capacity of 10,000 commuters.

 
 

It now costs $5 for an MRT ride from Woodlands to Bukit Chagar via KTM, and RM5 (S$1.60) for a one-way trip to Woodlands from Bukit Chagar.

Dr Wee said: "This is a dedicated railway system from Bukit Chagar so for the distance of 4km, it is using the (Malaysian) LRT system."

The initial plan was for the cross-border link to use the same trains and rail systems as the TEL, for economies of scale.

As a result of the change, the RTS Link will not use the existing Mandai Depot in Singapore - run by TEL operator SMRT - for heavy maintenance of trains.

Instead, a new depot will be constructed in Wadi Hana, Johor Baru.

Said Dr Wee: "We need a maintenance depot, we need to have a place we can do servicing and maintenance, that's why we choose Malaysia."

"It will also create 1,000 jobs for the locals. The land acquisition process will continue with the help of the state government and the depot will be jointly owned by Singapore and Malaysia."

 
 

The RTS Link project was suspended from April 1 last year, at Malaysia's request, to allow some time for the country to review the project.

Yesterday's ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin, as Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung and Dr Wee marked the resumption of the project.

Singapore will be bearing 61 per cent of the RM10 billion project cost, Dr Wee said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline 'RTS fares will be affordable for daily commuters, says KL minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe