Johor To Begin Testing “Smartbus” Automated Rapid Transit System (ART)

The first automated rapid transit (ART) system has arrived in Johor and soon to be set for a bus pilot testing program in Iskandar Malaysia.

According to the 51-49 joint-venture group, Mobilus Sdn Bhd (Ireka Corp Bhd and CRRC Urban Traffic Co Ltd, member of the CRRC Group), this testing comes after its original 2020 schedule was delayed due to the pandemic and is to cover a network of more than 2,000km in Phase 1.

“The arrival of the ART is a great step forward for our urban transportation business in the year ahead.” said Ireka group managing director Lai Voon Hon.

“The planning for the ART Bus Pilot Testing Programme in Iskandar Malaysia, which will showcase seven other bus manufacturers, is well underway after some delays due to the pandemic in 2020, and now we hope to have the project up and running by early 2021”.

ART is medium-capacity transit system for urban usage, and the vehicle are manufactured by the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRRC), which had previously worked on the KTM intercity vehicles.

Penang had considered the system back in 2018 but eventually kept it in consideration and continued their search for a better train system instead 

First presented by CRRC in 2017, the ART system was described as a “crossover between a train, a bus and a tram”. The trains are rail-less and measures up to 30 metres, features three carriages and runs on rubber tyres than rails.

A 10-minute charge on each of the vehicle’s batteries can last up to 24km for 300 passengers in three vehicles which is also expandable to 500 in 5 vehicles.

Other than the pilot testing program, the Malaysia Institute of Transport (MITRANS) and Universiti Tecknologi MARA will be conducting a technical feasibility study. At the end of the study and testing period, a feasible report will be available to the adoption of ART as a new urban transport system.

ART is currently being adopted cities across China such as Yibin, Sichuan. The T1 line which is the first of seven in the city was launched in December 2019 and runs 17.7km through central Yibin and connects to the high-speed railway terminus in the city.

Reports say that the system is used by more than 25,000 daily commuters and has reduced traffic congestion by 20% in the city.