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Kuala Lumpur

Getting around

KL Sentral in Brickfields, 1km south of the historic old train station, is the hub of a sophisticated rail-based urban network consisting of the KTM Komuter, KLIA Ekspres, KLIA Transit, LRT and Monorail systems.

Unfortunately the systems – all built separately – remain largely unintegrated. Different tickets generally apply for each service, and at stations where there’s an interchange between the services they’re rarely conveniently connected. This said, you can happily get around much of central KL on a combination of rail and monorail services, thus avoiding the traffic jams that plague the inner-city roads. And the Touch & Go stored value card (available at all LRT stations) can be used at the electronic gates to the LRT, train and monorail systems.

On paper, KL should have one of the best public transport systems around, with numerous bus routes and a sophisticated rail-based mass transit system made up of the KTM Komuter, KLIA Ekspres, KLIA Transit, LRT and monorail systems. Unfortunately the systems are poorly integrated. As a rule, you need a different ticket for each service and many of the ‘interchange’ stations are actually on different streets, linked by a series of walkways and overpasses.

This said, the monorail and Kelana Jaya/Terminal Putra line of the LRT provide access to most points of interest in the city centre, avoiding the traffic jams that plague the inner-city roads. The rechargeable Touch & Go stored value card (available at all LRT stations for an RM10 deposit) can be used at the electronic gates to the LRT, train and monorail systems.

Bus & tram

Bus

KL has streamlined its confusing bus system. Now you’ll mainly see Rapid KL (1800-388 228; www.rapidkl.com.my) and Metroliner buses. There’s an information booth (7am-9pm) at the Jln Sultan Mohammed bus stop in Chinatown, where you can pick up a route map and information on various season tickets.

Local buses leave from many of the bus terminals around the city, including the huge Puduraya bus station on Jln Pudu, the Klang bus station, the Jln Sultan Mohammed bus stop, and from along Medan Pasar and Lebuh Ampang near the Masjid Jamek LRT stations. The maximum single fare is usually RM1 for destinations within the city limits. A RM2 ticket allows you one day’s unlimited travel on Rapil KL’s 15 different city routes.

Since KL’s inexpensive taxis and reliable LRT systems are more efficient, not to mention air-conditioned, there’s little point in using buses unless you’re going to be in KL for some time. You’ll only really need the bus for trips to outlying areas, such as the Batu Caves.

Bus

Although there are several smaller companies, most buses in KL are provided by either Rapid KL (1800-388 228; www.rapidkl.com.my) or Metrobus (5635 3070). Rapid KL buses are the easiest to use as destinations are clearly displayed. Its buses are divided into four classes, and tickets are valid all day on the same class of bus. Bas Bandar (routes starting with B, RM2) services run around the city centre. Bas Utama (routes starting with U, RM2) buses run from the centre to the suburbs. Bas Tempatan (routes starting with T, RM1) buses run around the suburbs. Bas Ekspres (routes starting with E, RM4) are express buses to distant suburbs. You can also buy an all-day ticket covering all nonexpress buses (RM4) and a ticket covering all Rapid KL buses and trains (RM7). All the bus routes have recently been renumbered – there’s an information booth (7am to 9pm) in front of Pasar Seni LRT station where you can pick up a route map and information on various season tickets.

Local buses leave from half a dozen small bus stands around the city – useful stops in Chinatown include Jln Sultan Mohamed (by Pasar Seni), Klang Bus Station (south of Pasar Seni), Bangkok Bank (on Lebuh Pudu), Medan Pasar (on Lebuh Ampang), Central Market (on Jln Hang Kasturi) and the Kota Raya department store (on Jln Cheng Lock).

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Local transport

Taxi

KL has plenty of taxis, and fares are cheap, starting at RM2 for the first kilometre, with an additional 10 sen for each 200m. From midnight to 6am there’s a surcharge of 50% on the metered fare, and extra passengers (more than two) are charged 20 sen each. Luggage placed in the boot costs an extra RM1.

Even though the law mandates the use of the meter, you’ll often find taxi drivers unwilling to use it, citing KL’s traffic or the out-of-the-way location of your destination as a reason. Taxi drivers lingering outside luxury hotels are especially guilty of this behaviour. Stand your ground and, if necessary, walk off and hail another taxi. If you choose to bargain, fares around town start at RM5 and it should cost no more than RM10 to go right across the central city area.

Be aware that taxis will often only stop at the numerous officially signposted taxi stands and although it is possible to wave one down, some drivers are reluctant to stop.

Taxi

KL has plenty of air-conditioned taxis, which queue up at designed taxi stops across the city. You can also flag down moving taxis, but drivers will only stop if there is a convenient place to pull over. Fares start at RM2 for the first two minutes, with an additional 10 sen for each 45 seconds. From midnight to 6am there’s a surcharge of 50% on the metered fare, and extra passengers (more than two) are charged 20 sen each. Luggage placed in the boot is an extra RM1 and there’s an RM12 surcharge for taxis to KLIA.

Unfortunately, some drivers have a limited geographical knowledge of the city, and many are reluctant to use the meter, even though this is a legal requirement. Taxi drivers lingering outside luxury hotels are especially guilty of this behaviour, citing KL’s traffic or the out-of-the-way location of your destination as a reason for an elevated cash fare. This is baloney. If a driver demands a fixed fare, bargain hard, or walk away and find another taxi. As a guide, you can get right across the centre of town for RM5 on the meter or RM10 after bargaining. Note that KL Sentral and some large malls have a coupon system for taxis where you pay in advance.

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