Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Extension of LRT lines - is bigger ever better?

New additions - longer lines now available.

I hate nostalgia.

I also hate taking the bus.

Back in 1998, I got the opportunity to ride the newly launched Putra line...for free! I was still in college and was easily mesmerized and surprised at how advanced KL was compared to back home. I was so proud of then PM Tun Mahathir, besides both of us shared almost the same birthday - he also built the KLCC and turned Malaysia into one of the most advanced country in its infrastructure. Malaysia was way ahead of its Southeast Asian counterparts that time, even though the country was still recovering from the Asian economic crisis of 1997.

Spanking new seats and elevators
Young and naive person like myself back then was steadfast to stay in KL after college to fulfill our dreams - mainly because of the LRT, being such a modern and convenient way to get into the city! Of course being free, I rode the train everyday, feeling like I can go anywhere in an instant and maybe even achieve my dreams in an instant too. Forward back to present day 18 years later, and now the remaining lines are finally complete. Of course, now, nothing is free. The poor remains poor - made poorer still when the elimination of the monthly RM100 pass which has literally taken a toll on active commuters like myself. Commuters are now treated like vehicles, paying tolls for using the LRT highway at each stop. These new line extension are merely an illusion of progress made to soften the harsh reality that commuters actually have to pay more.

But is it worth it?

Huge carpark
General Overview
For the urban poor, our money is limited. Therefore, it's vital we get a general overview of the entire line so we can determine which stations can best meet our needs - whatever it may be. For me personally, I am looking for a stop that can fulfill me from day to night, like my clothes. But I am still open to other options, if there's any. When the train went beyond the Kelana Jaya station, it was exciting to see a new view. It used to be the last stop - and our journey has ended. It was simpler back then, because we don't have the gnawing curiosity of what's beyond. But now, it's different.

Open air view
What's beyond is a sprawling plain of condominiums, business centres and new developments still in the making. I noticed plenty of empty building lots still advertising for occupancy. The newer condominiums situated nearby Ara Damansara station still have that less-than-vibrant atmosphere. There's even a large sign of the mall, stangely named Evolve. I wonder if it's advertising for the LRT putra new line extensions - like our transport system has evolved. The Ara Damansara station has a rounded womb like roof that resembles curiously like a woman's cunt. And in the train goes like the penis railing on a daily penetration.

The Womb
The Womb and The Shogun
There's basically 2 main types of station roof top design. Of course, I've already told you about the womb-like rooftop, but from afar it looks like a spaceship. But there's a second type of station design, with an interesting architecture that resembles a Japanese Shogun warrior armour for its silhouette. To make things simple. let's call these 2 station designs - The Womb and Shogun.

The Womb not meant for stops
I noticed the The Womb-like station are sort of reserved for the more upscale areas with sprawling high-end condominiums and malls. I suspect it must be perceived as more modern due to its ovular shape with cleaner lines. Where else for the Shogun-like station rooftops, it can be seen more at the lower-class residential and business areas. But personally, I prefer the Shogun because it has an open air without any enclosure like The Womb. These type of stations are situated higher above the ground and bigger in its size. That means one has to walk a bit more to come down from the station.

The Shogun
I made a simple conclusion so everyone who's taking this new line for the first time can be informed at which stop would be best for you. Basically, this new line serves a purpose to boost the economic activities at these 5 stations: Ara Damansara, Subang Jaya, Wawasan, USJ 7 and SS15. These stations are the more attractive stops being it's situated quite nearby to the malls. Below is the list:

1) Ara Damansara - Evolve
2) Subang Jaya - Aeon Big
3) SS15 or Subang Jaya - Subang Parade
4) Wawasan - The 19 USJ
5) USJ7 - The Summit

If you enjoy shopping for fashion, there's a little known HM shop at Evolve mall. If you're looking to buy groceries, then Aeon Big is for you. The other malls are basically a combination of shops and leisure spots. The other stations are situated at residential areas, with some very rich neighborhood.

Nothing is ever what it seems to be...
I was surprised to know how nearby Subang Jaya was to Kelana Jaya being a frequent train commuter. It was just on its next stop! I remembered before this new line extension, I have to stop at KL Sentral and transit to the Komuter line - the waiting period was exhaustingly long. Maybe that's why it gave the impression that it's faraway. it costs RM3.30 to stop from Wangsa Maju. But now, it's just a few stops nearby. I managed to catch a glimpse of how closely spaced the many rows of shoplots - perhaps I may even get a quick lunch later. I did get a quick lunch at Restoren Yee Fatt - a very rubbery wan ton mee for RM5.50 (small). I didn't order any drinks, but saved that for a teh tarik at Nasi Kandar shop opposite.

The reason I stopped at the SS15 station is because of the signage pointing out the nearby malls, mainly Subang Parade. After I got down to the station and had my lunch, I tried to look for Subang Parade - and it was nowhere to be found! I asked one college student, and he confirmed to me that it's quite a distance to walk to. When I got back into the train and heads back to Gombak, I discovered that Subang Parade is right behind a giant mosque that the train passed. I tried to gauge the distance, but it seems to be nearer to stop at SS15 than the Subang Jaya station. Again, you must never trust the signages. It's always better that you try it out yourself and see if you can take the walk. The distance may seem nearer when you're in a moving train than when you're actually on ground....

Free rides in 1998
In conclusion, the new LRT line extension merely offer options for the non-vehicle commuter. It may seem that you're nearer to a shopping mall, but experience it yourself when you're on the ground - it may be very different than what you expect. The more you get to see all these business centres, the more you realize how lonely and quiet business has actually gone down.  The trend now for commercial development is mixed residential and business - but how many of us can actually afford such lifestyle? Is bigger always better? Or maybe we should each take only what is enough and not get too much what we cannot handle.

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