COME December 2024 — when the Rapid Transit System (RTS) goes into operation — connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore will take on a new meaning. In a word, it will be seamless, meaning you hop on at Bukit Chagar in Johor and hop off at Woodlands North Station in Singapore, with customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) in a single clearance, at a single location.
A replication of the stations at Gare du Nord in Paris and St Pancras in London, so to speak. Single-point CIQ is necessary as an estimate puts the daily Causeway crossing to be between 300,000 and 400,000. Sans RTS, if the travelling time and customs and immigration clearance are factored into the equation, it may take hours before one gets to where one wants to be in Singapore.
With RTS, you just need to add 30 minutes perhaps for customs and immigration clearance to the travelling time of 30 minutes, and you are on the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit to your destination in the island state. It is that seamless. If the daily flow of 400,000 is an accurate estimate then the RTS may be able to shave off more than 75 per cent of the traffic flow. RTS brings many benefits to Malaysians, especially for Johor folk.
One such benefit is the seamless journey for commuters from Bukit Chagar in Johor to Woodlands North Station where it will join the Thomson East Coast Line in Singapore. Commuters will have a choice of 30 stations on this line to hop off from. Another plus point is the easing of the traffic snarl at the Causeway into Singapore where commuters slice off hours of their useful lives standing in queues that seem to amble along.
Combine festival holidays and peak periods, you get a lethal potion for a traffic snarl.
Understandably, Johor folk living a distance away from Bukit Chagar are also looking forward to experiencing the seamless connectivity. For this to happen, buses and trains must take them from wherever they are in Johor to Bukit Chagar so that they can hop on to the RTS without having to make many stop-overs.
For now, it is a bus to Larkin and then another bus to Bukit Chagar. There is a plan for the Bus Rapid Transit to ply passengers from Johor Baru, but people from other districts have to budget for more hop-ons and hop-offs than necessary. Given that there are six years before the first RTS train leaves the Bukit Chagar station on Dec 31, 2024, transportation providers may want to route their buses and trains to Bukit Chagar for a seamless journey to Singapore.
Until other Malaysians join Johor folk in their seamless journey to Singapore in 2026 when the High Speed Rail (HSR) rolls off from the station in Kuala Lumpur. By which time, our commuters from the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia will be ready to hop on the HSR to Singapore fresh off the ECRL after a six-hour 34-minute-journey on a 428km track. Now, that is seamless connectivity.