Singapore will one day have the most extensive rail and subway network for any country in the world. The forward-thinking Singapore government has announced plans to spend S$40 billion to double the MRT network by 2020.
According to The Straits Times on Jan 25, Singapore will have 278km of rail link, from 138km today. Its network density will rise from 31km per million residents today to 51km per million - surpassing that of major cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo, and comparable to current densities in cities like New York and London.
Will the Singapore MRT blueprint be completed by then? Unlikely. There's always room for Singapore to create an even more extensive network as the population grows.
A missing link could be a MRT rail track from Singapore to the southern Malaysian city of Johor Baru. It's not a radical idea. In fact, businessmen on both sides of the causeway are toying with the idea.
Such a link will definitely be useful to help ease the massive traffic at the causeway, the land-based bridge that links Singapore and Malaysia.
ST had estimated about 250,000 people enter Malaysia via the causeway every day. This works out to more than 90 million people each year. This is a staggering number as it is nearly 20 times the population of Singapore. The number of people using the causeway is almost one-fifth the 414 million riders who used Singapore's MRT in 2007.
Of course, there is no certainty that Malaysia and Singapore will agree to the proposed JB-Singapore MRT link. There are simply too many complications at the government-to-government level although it is a desirable project. The two governments can't even agree to build a new overhead bridge to replace the aging causeway and resolve a host of other bilateral problems.
And can they agree to a common ticketing system even if they manage to build a MRT link between Singapore and JB? Don't bet on it!