Monthly Archives: July 2012

Taxi Between Johor Bahru and Singapore

Iskandar Regional Development Authority chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim on transportation improvements:

The land transport authorites of Singapore and Malaysia are studying a rapid transit system (RTS) link between Singapore and Johor Baru. The architecture and engineering consultancy consists of two phases. Phase one is expected to be completed by year-end.The Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar will decide on the option to be adopted in phase two. Taxi services between Johor Baru and Singapore are also being improved.

Effective June 1, commuters taking cross-border taxis will be able to board and alight anywhere on the domestic leg of the journey.

For example, a commuter that takes a Singapore cross-border taxi can board or alight anywhere in Singapore. Similarly, a passenger taking a Malaysia cross-border taxi can board or alight anywhere in Malaysia.

But commuters need to board and alight at the designated terminals when they are not on the domestic leg, i.e. a commuter that takes a Singapore cross-border taxi can only board and alight at PasarBakti terminal in Johor Baru and likewise, a Malaysia cross-border taxi can only pick up or drop off commuters at the Ban San Street terminal in Singapore.

The transportation improvements are critical to the success of Iskandar-Singapore success. Currently the delays on the current links are bad and increasing. It seems that the estimates for how much traffic would be generating have been far too low. The addition of the second link is recent and yet the delays keep getting longer on average days (not even holidays). This seems to me to be a serious problem, especially when you consider that in the next 2 years there will be substantial additions in Iskandar, Malaysia that would increase cross border traffic. But with the delays already unacceptably long it seems there will be serious problems.

If there are process improvement and manpower adjusts that can help address these problems they should be a top priority (and why they haven’t been done already would be very puzzling). It seems to me a 3rd link is needed as soon as possible. In addition to the MRT and an expansion to the existing causeway capacity.

The tweaks to allowing taxis to pick up passengers anywhere at the first leg of the journey (which is my guess at what is said above though I am not sure really) is good thing. This doesn’t do anything about capacity issues or long delays at the links but it is an improvement in the previous operating process (which required taxi pickup at 1 or 2 specified spots only in order to cross the links). Hopefully the restriction on dropping people off can be eliminated soon also.

I don’t really understand the sense of the taxi process. There are cars that will pickup and drop off anywhere (for crossing the links) but are not painted up as taxis. I don’t quite understand the value of having different rules for cars depending on if they have meters inside or are considered something else (but do the exact same things a taxi does, but probably can’t pick up passengers on the street – probably they are only allowed to respond to phone calls).

Anyway, at least the taxi process is improving.

Related: Taxis in Johor BahruTaking the Bus Between Johor Bahru and SingaporeJohor Bahru Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ)

Minimum Housing Prices for Foreigners Investing In Malaysia Rise to RM 1,000,000

Excerpt from a speech by the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, 19 April, 2012:

As a first step to protect the interests of local Malaysians, the state government is proposing to increase the minimum limit for foreign purchases of all properties from the existing level of RM 500,000 to RM1 million with a higher limit of RM 2 million for landed properties only in Penang island and retaining the present RM 500,000 limit for Permanent Residents.

In 2010 and 2011 there were 774 and 890 property transactions involving foreigners. These transactions constitute only 2.98% and 2.26% respectively of the total number of transations in Penang. However to protect the interests of locals to ensure that they enjoy priority for less expensive properties, this restriction will help to provide a level playing field since foreigners have the advantage of a higher currency.

The Penang state government stresses that we welcome foreign participation in our economy including our property market. The state government feels that foreign participation can be profitable to both Penangites and foreigners in the higher end market where they can add value by helping Penang to transform itself into an international and intelligent city.

We would like to get feedback and opinions from NGOs, property developers, foreigners and the public on this proposal. The state government hopes to implement this proposal the earliest by 1 June 2012 or the latest by 1 July 2012.

It would be good to know what percentage of the sales from RM 500,000 to RM 1,000,000 for condos, and RM 2,000,000 for landed properties were purchases by foreigners. But it seems like an overly drastic measure given a 2.5% rate of foreign purchasers. To slow the rise in prices I believe increasing the downpayment requirements (including the extremely minimal downpayment requirements on housing in the process of being built. To be effective this should be done on all purchases (not just foreigners).

Without more focused data on the foreign purchases in the ranges being targeted however it is hard to determine what the impact of any measure could possibly be.

Participants in MM2H (as well as permanent residents) are permitted to buy/own 2 properties at the RM 500,000 minimum level; which could definitely increase the applications for that program. That could be one of the reasons this action was taken.

Related: Penang’s Economic GainsPenang Condo MarketConsiderations for Investing in Iskandar Housing