Saturday, March 04, 2023

The latest Aerotrain incident at KLIA: A lesson on procrastination

03 Mar: The aerotrain at our main airport, KLIA, is quite old. Last century technology. But the trains have served us well. They have done 2.8 million km in service (roughly 69 times the Earth’s circumference) and carried some 300 million passengers since 1998, according to  The Vibes. 

Thursday’s breakdown was not the first one. In 2017, scores of passengers trapped in a stalled train put their own lives in danger when they decided to get off the train and walk to the terminal; it was a miracle all of them lived to tell the tale. It was clear by then that KLIA needed a replacement. For reasons known only to them, however, the decision makers deferred a long-term solution for quick fixes.

The decision to replace the aerotrain with a brand new 21st century system was approved only last year. The replacement project is due for completion in March 2025. 

After the latest incident, Malaysia Airports swiftly decided to suspend the Aerotrain services. So from now, buses will ferry all arriving and departing passengers between the satellite building and the terminal, instead. Buses may not be the most efficient mode for transfer of passengers at airports but they are pleasant, safe and, OKU-friendly. I’m sure you have been on these terminal buses in the world’s biggest airports like Dubai, Doha and O’Hare. 

But MAHB better make them buses operate efficiently for passenger comfort and safety as well as the airport’s overall efficiency. Make sure there are sufficient buses (and drivers). And that the March 2025 deadline is met. 

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