PETALING JAYA: City planning is an essential aspect that Iskandar Malaysia has looked into as it seeks to tackle urban issues ranging from the lack of sustainable mobility to economic imbalance.
According to Iskandar Malaysia master planner Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Iskandar Malaysia’s total cumulative recorded investment reached RM341.4bil since 2006, with 61% of this has been realised.
At the City Expo Malaysia’s Star Talk series, IRDA chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said IRDA’s planning is aligned with the need to support national goals, especially in pushing for sustainable mobility.
“Connectivity is one of the major aspects that need to be improved so that goods and people will be able to move seamlessly, which then would be able to create an ecosystem to attract the right and impactful investment,” he said.
Ismail said in creating a good metropolis, connectivity is of paramount importance, with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system being one of the smart mobility initiatives rolled out by IRDA.
Since the inception of Iskandar Malaysia, the public transport coverage is less than 35% of the geographical area, and the goal is to increase the coverage to about 90%, he said.
“The way to move forward from looking at developed nations and modern cities around the globe is by using public transportation. BRT would be the game-changer. We are looking to shift the ratio (of trips using private vs public transport) from 85:15 to 70:30 or 50:50 through the BRT completion (expected by 2023),” said Ismail.
The buses will be fully electric to further lower their carbon footprint. The system covers 2,043km with three main lines, namely Iskandar Puteri, Skudai and Tebrau, with 44 direct routes and 55 feeder routes.
IRDA is also in talks with Johor Bahru City Council and Iskandar Puteri City Council about proposals to improve the commuting experience, such as providing sheltered walkways, wheelchair-friendly sidewalks, and ensuring well-lit places leading to the bus shelters.
The project is a strategic national initiative to develop a reliable and convenient bus transit system to improve accessibility and enhance the quality of life of the communities in Iskandar Malaysia.
It is Malaysia’s first comprehensive state-level implementation of a BRT system in the country and will serve as a backbone of the public transportation infrastructure in Iskandar Malaysia.
IRDA is also working with the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia to incorporate rubber as part of the mix for paving roads to fulfil its goal as a low carbon city.
Besides the new areas, IRDA promotes modern farming by embracing state-of-the-art technology that generates a smaller footprint by drawing upon success stories from Holland, South Korea, and Japan. Learning from these countries, Malaysia would be able to continue to look at food security from another perspective.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the space designs and there will be a need for intervention to relook at how they should consider designing spaces post-pandemic.
Ismail said they have to start looking at the changing patterns of consumers and adapt accordingly to stay competitive.
Meanwhile, City Expo Malaysia will continue to hold the Star Talk Series over the coming weeks. The topics are based on the 16 urbanism themes that will be explored at the expo, ranging from mixed-use development, smart cities, placemaking, walkable cities and many more.