(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

KUALA LUMPUR • Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday announced a 50 per cent discount on MRT tickets from today until Malaysia’s 60th independence day on Aug 31, as he officiated the opening of the second phase of the Greater Kuala Lumpur line.

Users of the recently expanded LRT system, the Monorail network in downtown KL and the capital city’s bus network called Bus Rapid Transit will also get 50 per cent discounts until the end of next month.

The cheaper tickets for these services will benefit half a million users, operator MRT Corp said on its website.

With public complaints over traffic snarls and the high cost of highway tolls, the government is touting the MRT, LRT and other downtown rail systems as the solution for some seven million people who live in Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, called Greater KL, or the Klang Valley.

The completed 51km Sungai Buloh to Kajang network, called the SBK Line, covers many housing estates on the north-west and south- eastern periphery of KL. It has 31 stations, with the first phase opened last December.

The MRT complements the LRT system, which has 85 stations. The LRT mostly serves communities in the north-east and south-west of Greater KL.

Commuters who want to enter downtown KL are also served by the inter-city KTM Komuter service and the express rail link from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Additional phases of the MRT line are being built.

Datuk Seri Najib recently hit out at former premier Mahathir Mohamad for not building the MRT when he led the country for 22 years and instead focusing on a national car industry through Proton. Parts of the LRT line and the Monorail were built by Tun Dr Mahathir, who is now an opposition leader.

Yesterday, Mr Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took a ride on the SBK Line. “As Malaysians, we can stand tall today that we have a world-class project for the people. We are seeing not just the MRT but the shape of the future of Malaysia before our eyes,” Mr Najib said, as quoted by The Star newspaper.

He said he asked someone whom he did not name if Malaysia’s mass rapid transit is comparable to other subway lines. “The person said we are better than London, we are better than New York, we are better than Hong Kong, and we are on a par with Singapore.”

Fares range from RM1 to RM6.40 (about 30 Singapore cents to S$2), said MRT chief executive officer Shahril Mokhtar.

“Relatively cheaper than driving your own car with fluctuating petrol prices; (also) no parking charges, and less wear and tear on your vehicle will extend your car’s lifespan,” he said, as quoted by the Bernama news agency.

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