Media Statement by Johor DAP Publicity Secretary and Senai State Assemblyman Wong Shu Qi on 14th October 2017 (Saturday):

More details from federal and state government are needed to justify the cost of the pricey Johor Bahru Bus Rapid Transit project

For the people who have been waiting for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Johor Bahru, last week’s launch was just another theatrics. Nothing concrete was announced except now the project has a higher price tag of RM2.56 billion, and a guaranteed profit for its private investor.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement of the BRT was nothing new. In fact it was utter disappointment to Johoreans. In November 2016, we were already informed that federal government allocated about RM1 billion for the BRT project. The only new thing in this latest re-annoucement is, the cost has more than doubled within less than a year’s time even before any construction is done.

By comparison with BRT construction cost worldwide, this latest cost of Johor BRT at RM2.56 billion for a 51 km track is very expensive. One reason for the preference of BRT in many developing countries and cities is because it is cheaper to construct and maintain compared to options such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). The BRT system can also easily be expanded to suit the fast changing landscape of the city.

However, with a RM2.56billion price tag, our Johor BRT will cost us RM50 million for every kilometre of bus lane. Internationally, the average cost for BRT is USD10 million a kilometre. In other words, Johor Bahru BRT is roughly 25% more expensive than normal. This is not including the cost of inflation which will eventually be factored in later.

Why is our BRT so much more expensive?

The government must reveal more information about this long delayed project beginning with why the ballooning cost, how many kilometres of the BRT will be on elevated structure, and details of the private concessionaires involved etc.

Public transport should not be designed as a profit-oriented venture. It must serve the people from the very start, good and rational design, cost efficiency, proper maintenance, economical for riders. The Johor Bahru BRT on the other hand is on to a bad start: multiple delays, high cost which got higher, lack of information and public consultation.

Wong Shu Qi