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Driving In Kuala Lumpur Isn't So Bad

There are at least two reasons here that make driving in Kuala Lumpur better than it could be.

by / Published: 5 Oct 2017

Driving In Kuala Lumpur Isn't So Bad
Photo: iStock

Recently, Germany’s largest online car parts retailer kfzteile24 launched a study into the best and worst cities for driving. Our very own Kuala Lumpur was ranked 64 out of 100 cities, with 100 being the worst to drive in.

Factors that affected score calculation included congestion level, availability of public transport options, average cost of city parking and a litre of fuel, road quality and more.

Let’s take a look at some of the main factors to see how KL is really doing on the world scale.

Congestion Level: 43% out of 100%

There’s no getting around it; KL on weekday mornings and evenings can be really trying on one’s patience, and that’s compounded when it starts to rain and drivers slow down, or – touch wood – an accident happens. What might normally be a 20-minute journey into or out from the city can take up to an hour or more during rush hour. But during weekends and non-peak times, it can be a pretty smooth ride.

Workaround: Time your journeys into/out of/around the city well. 8-9am and 5.30-7pm are times you should either avoid driving or be prepared for long waits – this is usually when Uber and Grab prices will surge too.

If you are driving, identify roads that have shorter or longer traffic lights based on peak hours (looking at you, Jalan P Ramlee in the morning). Leave an hour early or more if you have an appointment around that time. Keep the radio on to listen for traffic announcements and watch for the signals of traffic cops at particularly busy junctions.

Public Transport Options: 2.82 out of 10.00

We’re not sure this score deserves to be as low as it is – the network isn’t as extensive as Tokyo, who achieved a perfect 10, but we’re still fairly connected around the city centre with the LRT, the Monorail, the MRT, RapidKL, GOKL and Hop-On-Hop-Off buses.

According to kfzteile24, cities get a higher score based on the length of the rapid transit system and suburban railway network for each city. This might be where we fall short; our rail networks aren’t as far-reaching as those in many other cities, which is why those staying further away from the city prefer to drive. Construction is under way for a second MRT line and more extensive rail lines are being planned for the coming years, so it’s a work in progress.

Workaround: For now, ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab can fill in the areas where existing public transportation doesn’t cover. Keep an eye out for promotions and avoid booking during rush hour.

Photo: iStock

Average Cost of City Parking: $1.06 per hour

Here’s where KL drivers can count themselves fortunate; hourly parking works out to somewhere around RM4.50 per hour on average here, which is a far sight better than New York, where it costs around $27.61 for the same time. Neighbouring Singapore, ranked sixth worldwide, also keeps costs low at $1.39.

Workaround: Parking prices in city malls and hotels are some of the most expensive options as they’re meant to deter office workers from taking up bays for shoppers and hotel guests. So instead, look for open air carparks – it’s not as convenient, but can be very cost-efficient if you plan to park for longer than an hour or two. Prices range between RM7 to RM15 for a whole day.

Cost of Fuel: $0.49 per litre

This is definitely a plus point for us drivers as well – the only two cities where fuel was cheaper than in KL per litre were Lagos, Nigeria ($0.46) and Dubai, UAE ($0.48). Rejoice! But bare in mind that petrol prices are regulated

Workaround: We’ve all heard the commercials but they bear repeating – slamming on your brakes often will waste a lot of fuel, as will leaving the engine running instead of switching it off while parked. Certain credit cards may also give you cash rebates on fuel.

Road Quality: 7.84 out of 10.00

Poor road quality is one of the two major factors for bad driving experiences in cities, but KL doesn’t do too badly on that front with an above average score – even edging out more developed cities like Brisbane and Sydney, both of which recorded 7.26.

We’ve driven over enough potholes in the road to know that our roadworks could definitely still use some improvement, but it could be a lot worse!

Check out the full study and the complete breakdown of these and other factors here. Tell us what you think about your experience driving in KL and any of these other cities – how do they stack up?


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