KUALA LUMPUR (July 17): Starting from 4pm today, all 31 stations of the country's first mass rapid transit (MRT) line, starting from Sg Buloh to Kajang — expected to serve 1.2 million of population along the catchment line, will be fully operational, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
"I am also throwing a special gift to the rakyat. The MRT is free for today, and until Aug 31, the government will be offering a 50% discount to MRT commuters in conjunction with Merdeka Day celebration," Najib said in his speech, prior to launching the country's first MRT services.
"It is a momentous occasion in the country's history today. As a Finance Minister, I am also happy to note that MRT is delivered below the budgeted cost, and ahead of the schedule," he added.
Najib once again reiterated that the first MRT line was built at a cost of RM21 billion, saving RM2 billion and lower than the budgeted RM23 billion.
Benchmarking the MRT with global rail operators, Najib said he was informed that Malaysia's mass rapid transit is better than the rail services available in London, New York and Hong Kong.
"But compared to Singapore, we are just at par," quipped Najib, adding that "Malaysians can stand tall today and be proud of the MRT services, which is among the world's best."
Based on the studies conducted, Najib said the MRT line will cut the travelling time between Sg Buloh and Kajang to 88 minutes, from 2.5 hours taken by using bus.
From a cost standpoint, Najib added that the one-way fare to travel between Sg Buloh to Kajang is only RM5.50, compared to an average of RM54 offered by Uber, a ride-hailing service operator.
At the same time, Najib also said the MRT's procurement and tendering process is recognised as following the best practices and standards.
He also stressed that the MRT contracts were awarded to qualified and competent Bumiputera companies, and "not cronies".
"Based on the contracts awarded, Bumiputera participation in the first MRT line project is 50%. And the contracts were awarded to competent firms," he added.
Stretching 51km, the first MRT line from Sg Buloh to Kajang consists of 31 stations, of which seven are underground stations while the remaining 21 are elevated stations.