Commuting in Kuala Lumpur
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Updated last year

One of the perks of moving to the city is the ease of movement. The public transport system is cheap, safe and highly reliable, with a network of services connected different areas of KL and its suburbs. Good public infrastructure in this case also means highways and roads that are well-serviced and pleasant to drive on, provided there is no traffic.

The high cost of cars and frequent traffic jams are strong deterrents to purchasing a vehicle when you live in the city. In addition, the cost of maintaining a car isn't always reasonable unless your family takes frequent road trips and you have a designated parking spot. Most people favour public transport to commute to work and back. Peak hours are from 7 am to 9 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm and a simple 10-minute journey can take as much as 45 minutes in that period. Public transport also has a high flow of passengers during those hours but is far less stressful than the daily gridlock.

Trains in Kuala Lumpur

The main railway services in Kuala Lumpur are the LRT, the MRT, the KTM, the Monorail and the KLIA Express. Most LRT and MRT stations are equipped with multistorey parking facilities that allow commuters to park their own vehicles and hope on a train. The railway also permits users to bring in foldable bikes during off-peak hours.

The cost of public transport in KL varies depending on your mode of payment. The Touch N Go card is a cashless system with top up points throughout the city and a slight rebate on fares. An additional rebate is given on a monthly or weekly purchase plan. Most transport services can be paid for using the Touch N Go card, to ensure seamless transit. The card can be purchased for RM15 at the counters inside stations with a minimum reload of RM10. The card can also be used to pay for highway tolls and acts as a payment card in a number of retail and F&B outlets.

The Light Rail Transit (LRT)

The LRT is a driverless railway service that runs along three main arteries; The Kelana Jaya Line, The Sri Petaling Line and the Ampang Line. The LRT is a busy yet highly efficient service that serves most of the neighbourhoods of KL. The LRT fulfils most of the transport needs of those who live and work in KL while acting as a convenient way for tourists to explore the city. The cabins are air-conditioned and clean, with more stations being added to increase service capacity to the suburbs.

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)

The MRT is a fully automatic, remotely-operated train service that runs between 31 stations from Sungai Buloh to Kajang, over a distance of 51 km. It comprises of a 41.5 km elevated guideway with 24 stations, and a 9.5 km tunnel segment with seven underground stations. All its stations are open to the public from 6 am daily. The trains operate at a frequency of 3.3 minutes during peak hours. The MRT is ideal when travelling a bit further from the city centre into the major residential pockets.

The KTM

The KTM Komuter train covers over 280 km and accommodates 57 stations. It has two lines ' the Port Klang (Pelabuhan Klang) line and the Seremban line ' making it a popular mode of transport for professionals commuting between other areas of the Klang Valley and the city centre. You can transfer between the two lines at KL Sentral station and Putra station, with other interchange stations for the LRT along the way. The KTM is often crowded and less efficient than the MRT or LRT.

The Monorail

The Monorail line in the city operates from 6 am daily between 11 stations from KL Sentral to Titiwangsa. The various stops act as interchange stations and serve the most popular areas of the city - including the most touristy areas. During peak hours, the trains come every five minutes. Yet, the monorail remains crowded due to the limited number of cabins.

KLIA Ekspres and KL Transit Train

The KLIA Express service is arguably the most convenient way to travel to and from the airport. Trains come every 15 minutes in peak periods, and the journey takes just 30 minutes from the centre of Kuala Lumpur to KLIA, and 33 minutes to KLIA2. The KLIA express costs RM55 one way for an adult and RM25 for a child. The KLIA Express is a popular mode of travel for anyone who is looking for a fast and efficient trip to the airport.

Alternatively, the KL Transit Train is another way to travel between the city and the airport. The journey is longer as the train stops along the way. his is a good option if you need to travel beyond the city lines to places like Bandar Tasik Selatan, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.

Bus services in Kuala Lumpur

The bus network around the city is an alternative to railway services. Yet, buses are far less efficient, with schedules only providing an indication of frequency. This is due to the recurring congestion in and around KL. Buses operate from 6 am onwards with fares depending on the journey length. The main bus terminals are KL Sentral, KLCC, Maluri, Titiwangsa and Pudu Sentral. RapidKL is the largest bus network operator in the country, with 177 routes around the city and the BRT subway line servicing stops from Sunway-Setia Jaya to USJ7.

There is additionally a large network of private bus operators who cater for longer journeys from KL. The price range varies and the schedules often depend on how fast the bus operator can fill up his vehicle. KL Sentral for instance, hosts buses travelling to and from Genting Highlands while Bandar Tasik Selatan station, connected to TBS bus terminal, services southbound travellers.

Taxis and ride sharing in Kuala Lumpur

Taxis are an alternative to the public transport system in KL. While they tend to be slowed down by traffic, they are more comfortable and cost efficient if you are travelling in a small group. Taxis charge a premium for late night trips and operate around the clock. The fare starts from RM3 for the first kilometre and increases by RM 0.87 per kilometre after. While taxis in Malaysia are cheap when converting to USD or GBP, the fares tend to be fixed by drivers who will charge far more than regular pricing when it comes to foreigners. You can try to negotiate but often, all the taxis in an area will have agreed to only give one price. The taxi meter is an alternative but can be tricky if you don't know the way; drivers have been known to drive around aimlessly to hike up the meter charge. It is worth saving the contact details of any reliable taxi driver you've used so you can contact them when needed. This is especially relevant for those who live outside of the city.

The past 5 years have seen a lot of changes in the ridesharing industry, culminating in apps that allow people to book car rides for themselves or as part of a carpool, for a fraction of the cost of taxis. Rideshares tend to offer a far better bargain when it comes to quality and reliability of service. The system is cashless, which means that prices are already agreed upon and cannot be fiddled with. Ridesharing has become very popular, having improved accessibility and price points in the city.

Useful links:

RapidKL
Touch N Go
KLIA Express

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