Kuching public transportation services

Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project

The Sarawak ART System Project is part of the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) is massive public transportation project undertaken by the Sarawak Government.

The master plan wants to connect major locations in Kuching and nearby divisions with key destinations.

About Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS)

KUTS is managed and planned by Sarawak Metro. It consist of public busses and the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART).

The company has been entrusted by the Sarawak Government to transform the public road transport system in major urban areas.

It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and will be the asset and project owner of the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS).

The Sarawak government had previously planned to use the LRT system for the KUTS, but further identified ART as the more viable alternative.

While the project is known as KUTS which refers to Kuching, it actually plans to connect the Kuching, Samarahan and Serian divisions in different phases.

Cost of KUTS

Initially proposed as an LRT service, it was expected to cost RM10.8 billion.

However after consideration, the Sarawak ART project is to cost much less due to its conversion to the new ART system.

The ART service is part of the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project, of which the control centre will be located at the proposed Rembus depot.

KUTS. Graphics lifted from Sarawak Metro.

Initially electric trains were preferred for the system as Sarawak is a major electricity producer.  However, it is now confirmed that hydrogen powered trains would be used instead.

These hybrid trains, which are a combination of a bus, train and tram can carry up to 300 people at a time.

Kuching LRT
A photo of the Danhai Light Rail Transit which uses at-grade tram system. Photo by Thales Group.

The ART system will use virtual tracks on dedicated lanes and the articulated hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) will run on rubber tires.

The KUTS routes

The route of the Sarawak ART as shown on the Sarawak Metro website shows that the ART will have two major lines, namely the Samarahan Line (Blue Line) and Serian Line (Red Line).

A third line, known as City Dispersal Line for now is still in planning stages and has yet to be finalized.

The masterplan of KUTS will see the system expanded to Damai, Senari and Serian in the near future.

The proposed Kuching ART Lines. Photo from Sarawak Metro.

The date of the expansions as shown above however have not been confirmed or published yet.

In August 2022, a new alignment was announced by Sarawak Metro as seen below. This new alignment includes the Santubong Peninsular which was added during an announcement in July 2022.

Based on the latest diagram, the Red line now has less stations with the station starting at Kuching Sentral instead of Kota Padawan as seen in the previous plan.  The new plan also introduces the Green Line which will see the system reach Damai.

KUTS stations and facilities

Based on the EEIA report, the ART doesn’t differ much from other ART designs in other countries although four years can see the design of the ART change entirely.

The routes of the ART line will be a mixture of underpasses, elevated routes and at-grade as seen in the image below.

The station size for KUTS ART will depends on the facilities it will offer. The typical size
of an ART station is 20m wide by 50m long.

In general, all stations will have the following facilities:

  • Ticket Vending Machines
  • Public Information Displays
  • Disable (Orang Kurang Upaya) friendly facilities
  • Taxi and car drop off area
  • Elevators and seating area

The interchange station will have added facilities which include customer service counters.

An EEIA report on KUTS published in August 2021 revealed the following locations as stations for the first phase of KUTS.

Stations along Samarahan Line:

Stations along Serian Line:

  • SR1 – JPJ/Batu 12 Depot
  • SR2 – Kota Padawan/Batu 10 bazaar
  • SR3 – SMK Wira Penrissen
  • SR4 – Sentosa Parade
  • SR5 – Kuching Sentral
  • SR6 – Kuching International Airport
  • SR7 – RH Plaza Commercial Centre
  • SR8 – Emporium Kuching / 101
  • SR9 – Swinburne University
  • IS1 – Wisma Persekutuan (Simpang Tiga)
  • SR10 – Chung Hua Middle School No. 3
  • SR11 – Puspakom
  • SR12 – Bintawa Industrial Estate
  • SR13 – Borneo Convention Centre Kuching

In August 2022, Sarawak Metro published the latest alignments for the KUTS as listed below.

  • SR5 Kuching Sentral
  • SR6 Kuching International Airport
  • SR7 Pelita Height
  • SR8 Tun Jugah
  • SR9 VivaCity
  • SR10 Jalan tun Razak
  • SR11 Pending
  • DM1 Darul hana
  • DM2 Wisma bapa Mmalaysia
  • DM3 Menara Pelita
  • DM4 Stadium
  • DM5 Yayasan Sarawak
  • DM6 Bandar Baru Samariang
  • DM7 Sg Batu
  • DM8 Santubong
  • DM9 Damai Central
  • SM0 Rembus
  • SM1 Summer Mall
  • SM2 Aiman Mall
  • SM5 Sarawak Heart Centre
  • SM6 Riveria
  • SM7 Stutong
  • SM8 e-Mart
  • SM9 Wisma Wan
  • SM10 The Spring
  • SM12 Batu Lintang
  • SM13 Sarawak General Hospital
  • SM14 Hikmah Exchange

The new lines are well mapped out as seen below.

KUTS operation and capacity

According to the EEIA report, the ART will be able to accommodate some 300 passengers at one time.

Travel time will be from 6AM – 12AM with extended hours considered if necessary.

Kuching Urban Transportation System

There will be an 8 minutes interval between trains with the Samarahan Line taking 38 minutes to complete, while the Serian Line taking 40 minutes to complete.

When will Sarawak ART System Project be ready

The first phase of KUTS is at its planning and development stage, with construction work expected to begin sometime in 2022.

Sarawak Metro announced in July 2022 that they expect the project to begin construction in September 2022.

A contract worth RM448 million for Package two of the project was awarded in November 2022.

On 30 November 2022, HSL was announced as the contractor building the Rembus Depot with the contract worth RM64.3 million.

The project is expected to start construction in the third quarter of 2022 with the Samarahan Line (Blue Line) being constructed first.

In December 2022, it was announced that the ART proof-of-concept will be ready by the third quarter of 2023. It was also made known that a study will be done to see if it was possible to make hydrogen buses become feeder to the system within a 2km radius.

In July 2023, it was made known that the ART Prototype was on the way to Kuching. Engineering tests are expected from September to Oktober, before a Proof of Concept (POC) using a short distance on the Blue Line can be done in November 2023.

On 28 July 2023, it was made known that the first Hydrogen ART would be named ‘BULAN’.

It arrived in Kuching on August 5th, docking at Port Senari, and was later assembled in a nearby warehouse.

The Engineering test run of the Hydrogen Powered ART started on 23 August 2023 within Kuching Ithmus.

On 6 September, it was made known that Sarawak had already placed orders for 38 hydrogen powered trams.

This will then be followed by the Serian Line (Red Line) which will begin construction in the first quarter of 2023.

According to a timeline shown on the Sarawak Metro site, the pilot run for Blue Line would begin as early as 2023.

Kuching ART timeline

However, a more recent EEIA report suggest that the Samarahan Line is expected to be operate in the fourth quarter of 2026, while the Serian Line will be operational in the second quarter of 2026.

This is a slight change from the earlier timeline which puts the operations at the end of 2025 for the Samarahan Line.

Fare to use KUTS

So far there is no mention on the fare or ticket prices for a ride on KUTS.

It was nonetheless assured that the fares for the hydrogen ART will not be high.

More details on Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project

This article would be updated once we have more details, so keep coming to KuchingBorneo, and do LIKE us on Facebook and Instagram.

FYI, this post was updated after Sarawak Metro contacted us with more interesting developments on the project.

Cyril Dason

Cyril Dason was born and currently lives in Kuching. He loves jungle trekking, clean rivers and chilling out with friends.

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