Tuesday, September 26, 2006

KL Boleh - Sentral, the new Kotaraya

Lex was there over the weekend and Monday to use the free services offered to Area 5 & 6 users. I've tested out the system myself before, and Lex went on assignment to snap some photos for me.

Rapid KL staff were seen everywhere around the bus stops at KL Sentral, especially at the main one at Jalan Stesen Sentral 3 i.e. where the KLIA and Genting buses stopped. They were giving out leaflets about the new routes and also the City Shuttle ones.

Well done, Rapid! (although there are some "customer service" issues which I will discuss later)

Sentral escalators

To get from Sentral proper (railway halls) from the bus terminal (at street level), there is this pathetic Imbi Plaza like narrow escalator available. And in typical Malaysian fashion, it crawls.

And in typical Malaysian fashion again, passengers coming down have to walk down a very narrow stair.

There is an elevator available, but it wasn't tested. At any rate, this elevator shouldn't be relied as a long term solution to shuttle people up and down.

I would recommend that KL Sentral management add more escalators in this area, and make them high speed. I don't think downward escalators are a luxury, they are a necessity.

One thing I don't understand is that if shopping centres can easily install so many escalators (up and DOWN), why can't train stations? How expensive is it to purchase and operate one?

Sentral proper
Once inside the rail halls in the main building, one would be greeted by the rows of gedung-gedung pakaian. Why people would want to buy clothes in a railway station really puzzles me. But this is Malaysia, and anything goes.

Okay. If this is indeed a shopping centre, then where are all the escalators going up and DOWN? And if this is a train station, why is there a Kamdar right in the main lobby?

There is also another "fashion" outlet in the unoccupied LRT ticket hall. (in general, each railway line has two entrances in. The Komuter utilizes both, but Rapid KL being cheap is only using one). And they forgot to remove the signs. (the blue sign at the top right)

I am not anti retailing. But I think there is a time and place for it. Most of the shops I see are those stalls selling handphone reload cards. WTF. I think good retail outlets would be like the MyNews/Kiosk/7-eleven kinda outlets at the Monorail stations. Or in Singapore, they have their Citylink mall at City Hall MRT.

Outside stations, there are the "pasar malams" that have been not carefully laid out, such that now going in and out of stations is like an obstacle course. Where is the planning!?

Meanwhile the signs have yet to be updated. Putra LRT's still the in thing and wherea are the directions to the buses.

Illegal parking
There is this huge-ass car park (and a "pasar malam") in the giant space between the station and Jalan Tun Sambanthan.

Instead we have these tight arses who choose to park their cars here. Right now, they are not obstructing any traffic, yet. But I can assure you that without any enforcement, this would become standard practice.

These cars better not belong to the Rapid KL staff on duty.


Nation of shopkeepers
I've blogged about this before. The rational decision to introduce a covered walkway to link the Monorail station with Sentral, followed by the not-so to surround it by a bazaar.

It makes the corridor stuffy, crowded, dirty and difficult to navigate.

Dare they proudly hang our vertical form of Jalur Gemilang in that ugly horizontal manner? And then leaving behind this mess!

What a bunch of patriots.

The car park is quite big, and hardly very full. So I don't see why KL Sentral shouldn't install the tents also in the car park, slightly further away from the walkway. Pedestrian traffic and shoppers thus compete for space in that tiny space.

Jalan Tun Sambanthan
This is the monorail station wrongly-named "KL Sentral". And look at the signboard and you can judge the high quality of installation and maintenance. Syabas!

Where's the O-N?

As you can see on the left, the "pasar malam" is being put up. I can't wait to see what happens when it rains at peak hours and Jalan Tun Sambanthan is jam packed.

Malaysia boleh in action again.

More "pasar malam" and the fella who owns the Volvo must be some tight-uncle to pay 60 sen an hour for parking behind this row of shops.

And look at the perfect seemless integration the "pasar malam" has with the bus network! The bus stop, the bus sign pole and the "pasar malam", and accompanying tong sampah have become ONE. Rapid KL, please learn! (he he)

And with this kind of third world mentality, commuters are forced to stand on the road to wait for buses. Otherwise, they might just miss a passing bus.

Bloody bas persiaran.

Suggestions for a first world station
Reallocate space amongst bus services and companies. KLIA, LCCT and Genting buses also crowd in the same area as Rapid KL. Given they were there before Rapid moved in, they have the choicest waiting bays. This has led to City buses being at on end of the building and Area 5 & 6 buses at another. How about moving these OTHER buses up to the bus and taxi waiting area opposite Hilton and leave this area downstairs exclusively for Rapid KL (and Triton)?

Better signs. Given that this is a pretty new system at KL Sentral, I hope Rapid KL and Sentral will put up better signs to direct passengers where to go, in the very very near future.

Install seats and fans! And maybe airconditioned waiting rooms?

Install permanent DBKL and traffic police officers to control traffic and enforce parking regulations.

Better access to Sentral proper - high speed escalators in both directions, stairs, clear the railway station hall, better signs.

Ban smoking in the bus station.

Fix Jalan Tun Sambanthan. I hope that Sentral, DBKL and business and community leaders can come together to bring some order to these street trading. I love the charm of street hawkers, but I think in a critical place like Jalan Tun Sambanthan and KL Sentral, it MUST be done properly. Cleanliness. No enroachment of stalls into the five foot way. Proper ventilation. No obstruction of street traffic. No taking over "bus stops". Deepavali or no Deepavali, Kongsi Raya or no Kongsi Raya, there is always the need to do the right thing, and the thing right. There is always the place and the time for everything. A bazaar in the middle of a busy pedestrian area is not right.

Quickly start work on the "shopping complex", if at all. Install a walkway at the same level as the monorail station (airconditioned with highspeed travelators!) right to the platform, to minimize walking up and down to get from both stations.


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