Kuching Urban Mobility Strategies for a 22nd Century Intelligent

In conjunction with Malaysia Urban Forum 2019, Urbanice Malaysia’s ‘Malaysia 100 Year City’ programme encouraged students from various local universities to reimagine what cities will look like 100 years from now and to share their ideas, solutions and concepts to address the challenges of future urban living.

In this project, Team UTM chose Kuching as its project site as it is a city filled with abundant opportunities and potential for economic expansion over the next 100-year period. The project looks into the social life of the people of Kuching—the way they travel and the current state of mobility in the city.

Based on the team’s analysis and surveys, people in Kuching have a very high dependence on private vehicles for transportation. This leads to traffic jams during peak times throughout the city—an average of 30 minutes daily—which will lead to loss of productivity and high petrol combustion. Projections also show that the population is expected to increase to 8.4 million in the year 2110, which the city will need to support.

To solve these issues, the team’s proposal is an integration of solutions—to connect people through public transportation, with a choice of walking and riding—that are environmentally-friendly and beneficial to the city. One advantage Kuching has is its abundance of land, which provides higher opportunity and freedom in introducing something new and innovative.

The proposed solution to prepare for future mobility is divided into two phases. The first phase is building the demand, and the second phase is building the ecosystem. This is crucial as the primary constraint to the proposed solution is the preference of the people in the way they choose to move about. A solution of a train or MRT system on its own is not able to change people’s lifestyle immediately, thus the need to change the mindset of the community towards a more sustainable transportation system.

The first phase aims to change the preferred method of travelling with a reward system that would attract more users. It also includes the introduction of technologies that are able to generate energy, such as SMART STREEk and SCOONETIC. The former are pavement tiles that convert kinetic energy from pedestrian footsteps into renewable electricity that can be stored in lithium polymer batteries, while the latter is a smart scooter with a battery that can be charged by energy produced and converted from its braking technology.

The second phase includes two main components, Kar and ULTrain. Kar is a technology where autonomous vehicles can be booked on a demand-basis and wirelessly charged using energy harvested from road slabs. Kar aims to solve the first and last mile issue, where people can now integrate between different modes of transportations seamlessly. The ULTrain, which is aimed for longer distance travel, works using the concept of a superfast aero-dynamic turbo tube with electromagnetism induction to harvest kinetic energy.

By understanding where people travel most to and how they travel, the team also plotted out suitable terminals for ULTrains. The very first line would be from the Kuching Airport to the waterfront area to cater to tourists and visitors, before expanding towards the other parts of the city. Although the implementation of ULTrain may be costly during the construction phase, it is expected to reduce car dependency by 55 per cent and, once completed, generate an estimated RM52 million annually from kinetic energy harvesting technologies. This will provide additional income to the state government as well as quality jobs for the Kuching-ites.

These technologies are currently still being developed, such as the kinetic paving by London-based Pavegen. These solutions will require collaboration between many start-ups and stakeholders to make it work. It also aims to maximise the use of local talents, especially the younger generations, in Kuching to contribute in building up the future of the city and the local workforce to ease the installation process. Another challenge is logistics, as there is limited access in bringing these materials into Kuching.

Future mobility requires an entire ecosystem that is integrated, connected and complementary for each component, so that people will be able to choose how they move about, in a fast, affordable and yet still comfortable manner.

Student Names: Wan Muhammad Aqib Wan Mohamad Ashaary; Josephine Lee Siaw Ling; Hilmi Shahrin Mohd Ghazali; Angelina Wong Shi Yan
School: Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai Campus, Johor, Malaysia
Programme: Bachelor’s Degree of Urban and Regional Planning
Supervisor/Instructor: Dr Syed Muhammad Rafy Syed Jaafar
Project Name: Kuching—Urban Mobility Strategies for a 22nd  Century Intelligent City
Project Date: 2018/2019
Location: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Images: Wan Muhammad Aqib; Josephine Lee; Hilmi Shahrin; Angelina Wong; Zulhilmi

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