The Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link connecting Singapore’s Woodlands with Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru is expected to ease the travelling time between both countries.
On Monday (22 September), state-owned transport firm Prasarana Malaysia and Singapore’s SMRT Corp have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture to design, fund, build, operate and maintain the 4km rail line.
Next Tuesday, both entities will jointly hold a briefing to update would-be bidders on the tender process. The governments of Singapore and Malaysia will also sign a legally-binding agreement with the project’s full technical details by December 2017, and launch the tender thereafter.
Upon completion by December 2024, 10,000 commuters will be able to travel across both countries per hour using the RTS link. This is expected to speed things up as about 126,000 cars cross the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia per day, making it one of the busiest crossings in the world.
The improved transportation system is anticipated to attract more people to live in Johor, particularly in the Iskandar region, where home prices are more affordable.
This is because it would be easier to make the daily crossing into Singapore, where wages and exchange rates are higher but property prices are more expensive.
In turn, this is expected to reduce the oversupply of houses in the Iskandar region, where many China-based developers are undertaking major developments like Country Garden’s US$100 billion Forest City project which consists of four man-made islands.
As of July 2017, the government of Johor Bahru approved a total of 344,977 units. However, the Penang Institute said in August that about a third of this remains unsold.
Collectively, China-based Greenland Group and Country Garden account for 12 percent of the overall number of residential properties in Johor Bahru, but two-thirds are still looking for buyers as these units were mostly marketed to people from mainland China before Beijing restricted money outflows to overseas real estate.