THE Causeway isn’t working as well as we want it to. It hasn’t been for a very long time. Well, what can we expect of a bridge with 1924 capacity that shoulders a 2019 burden.
More than 300,000 trundle daily on the aged Causeway to join a traffic snarl to nowhere. Or so it seems to the commuters who lose some three hours daily at the checkpoints. Picture this: 3.75 years shaved off in a 30-year working life! That is how much of their life our commuters are trading to cross the Causeway and back.
Many Leaders ago, this newspaper pushed an old idea of a crooked bridge as a congestion beater. We expected a debate. No mountains moved. No earth quaked.
Here, we are again pushing it one more time. Because it does beat more than congestion. It brings back to life shipping in the Johor Straits. Should this option be stuck on the drawing board, vessel movements under the Causeway must be eased. All it needs is the removal of three culverts for this to happen.
A third link is on the table as well. This may go down better with the Singapore government than would the crooked bridge. There are other ways, of course, out of this motorised mess.
Rapid Transit System or RTS is one. But cost — RM4 billion — may be an issue in this post-1Malaysia Development Bhd times. There is also operational issues to be ironed out with Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, or MRT.
Transport experts say RTS can ferry 10,000 passengers per hour. And all it needs is to be on the tracks for 10 to 15 trips per direction to make it viable. Whatever the number of trips — this will depend on platform length, platform holding capacity, station service level, evacuation rates — a figure that has been made public is a maximum load of 72,000 per day.
This does shave off a good number of commuters off the Causeway. But the point to remember is this: RTS is not to eliminate congestion but to alleviate it.
Yet others are hawking ferries as another alternative mode. But English Language lecturer and president of Johor English Language Teaching Association Vincent D’Silva doesn’t think it to be a long-term solution.
He sees two hurdles in its way. One is the short distance between Johor and Singapore. The other is the low passenger load. Both will make ferries go under as other water taxis have done before. For D’Silva, the solution lies elsewhere.
Some see public transport as the answer to present and future congestion woes. But getting our commuters to make the switch isn’t going to be easy. Professor of Transport Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah of the School of Civil Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, offers a reason why our commuters will be reluctant.
We do not have a seamless transport system as Singapore does. Because we do not have a hub — the Johor Central of the now and the future. Farhan sees the Senai airport as a possible candidate. Commuters must be able to go everywhere from here. Like they do in Singapore.
The case for making people mobile without the mess is clear. What it needs is the will to make it happen.