KUCHING (Feb 23): The Ministry of Transport Sarawak (MOTS) and Sarawak Metro Sdn Bhd (Sarawak Metro) are looking at the possibility of emulating Japan’s public transportation system for the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project.
Sarawak Minister of Transport Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin led a delegation from the state on a technical study visit to view the public transportation operations and legislation in Japan, recently.
“This technical study visit has been very informative and useful. We also had a good insight on the latest planning approach on new rapid transit systems in Japan,” he said.
The technical visit itinerary also included riding on the Automated Guide-way Transit (AGT) and tram and viewed the various fare and non-fare facilities at the stations and stops along the alignment.
“The AGT vehicle also runs on wheels and has some similarity to our ART project,” said Lee, adding that the fare and non-fare facilities available along the AGT alignments gave a valuable insight that Sarawak Metro could emulate for the KUTS project to garner revenues.
Among the delegations include Assistant Minister for Transport Sarawak (Aviation and Road) Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Transport Sarawak Dato Ir Alice Jawan Empaling, Sarawak Metro chief executive officer technologist Mazli Mustaffa, and other senior management of the ministry and Sarawak Metro.
While in Japan, the delegation also met with the Assistant Vice Minister for International Affairs from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Takakuwa.
During the meeting, the discussion was on traffic management and legislation relating to train, tram and hybrid light transit vehicles which serve the public transportation in Japan. Sarawak’s delegates also heard from Takakuwa that Japan’s extensive public transportation network of train and tram, is also supported by services from bus, taxi and e-hailing.
The delegates had the opportunity to do the walk-about at Toyota’s assembly plant for hydrogen-powered vehicles in Motomachi, Toyota City in Nagoya and visited the newly completed Light Rapid Transit (LRT) network in Utsunomiya.
While there, the delegates were briefed on the traffic management and operation system as well as having a close look at the LRT vehicle which is currently undergoing trial operation service.
“We had a good idea on the engineering and management of the new light rail system in Utsunomiya and the town’s population is almost similar to Kuching,” Lee said.
In Hiroshima, the delegates toured and were briefed on the ongoing redevelopment plan for the Hiroshima Station and this integrated station project is scheduled to be completed in stages, with two stages completed in 2025 and 2026 respectively. Lee believed the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at the Hiroshima station could also be adopted for the KUTS project.
Overall, Lee described the technical study trip as insightful and informative as there are many references similar to KUTS project garnered from various parties.
Engineering aside, Lee also described the trip as a good platform to benchmark on the technology use, safety aspect and service efficiency.
“Our ground study on safety under mixed traffic conditions and operating on elevated platforms are also very useful references and guidelines for the smooth implementation of the ART,” he added.