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Public transport in Kuala Lumpur is extensive and largely made up of buses and various rail systems, with the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system being the most popular. Transport routes, availability and commute times are significant factors expats will have to get used to when moving to Malaysia. But ultimately, getting around Kuala Lumpur is relatively easy.
Some expats may prefer driving over public transport, especially if they have children or if they want to explore areas beyond the city. Traffic and parking can be a problem, though, and some expats find the Malaysian driving style to be on the reckless side.
Public transport in Kuala Lumpur
MyRapid Touch 'n Go
The MyRapid Touch 'n Go Card is a smartcard ticketing system which can be used on all trains and buses, regardless of carrier. Travellers load credit onto the card in advance and simply tap in and out when boarding a bus or train. When a traveller places the card on the reader, the ticket value is automatically deducted from the available credit.
Kuala Lumpur has a well-developed rail system, consisting of three Light Rapid Transit (LRT) lines, three commuter lines, one Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line, and one monorail line. There are also two dedicated airport-link services that run to and from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Operated by Express Rail Link (ERL), these two lines are known as the KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit.
The LRT, MRT and monorail operate under the banner of Rapid Rail. The monorail runs directly through the city centre with the LRT lines branching off, connecting various suburbs to the city centre. The MRT, along with the commuter rail lines, run over longer distances, connecting Kuala Lumpur with surrounding towns. The commuter rail is run by KTM Komuter.
The LRT, with a daily ridership of close to half a million, is the most reliable and popular form of public transport in Kuala Lumpur. However, it can get very crowded, especially during rush hour.
Kuala Lumpur has an extensive bus network. There are a number of bus companies operating in the city, with Rapid Bus being the most common, followed by Metrobus. The bus system is well integrated with the train system, with a number of bus routes acting as feeder services to train stations.
Buses are cheap and efficient, provided there are no traffic jams. However, bus usage is declining as a result of the wide coverage of trains in Kuala Lumpur, which are generally seen as the preferred option.
Taxis in Kuala Lumpur
Taxis in Kuala Lumpur are available 24 hours a day, and can be hailed on the street. Ride-hailing apps such as Grab and MyCar are also operational in the city and are often used by expats and locals alike. That said, heavy traffic congestion, particularly during rush hour, can sometimes make taxis an inconvenient means of getting around Kuala Lumpur.
Driving in Kuala Lumpur
Driving in Kuala Lumpur can be chaotic at the best of times. Traffic lights are not always adhered to, and this goes for other road rules as well. Due to the unpredictable nature of other drivers in Malaysia, driving is generally not recommended.
Those who do decide to drive can do so on an international driver's permit for up to 90 days. Citizens of Commonwealth countries can use their driver's licence from home. To continue driving after this period, expats will need to convert to a Malaysian licence.
►Looking to rent an apartment in Kuala Lumpur? Find out how to go about this in Accommodation in Kuala Lumpur.
"Local trains are impressive; I haven’t yet taken the bus. Grab is so prevalent you don’t really need a car, certainly for local city travel. As soon as you want to get out of town, however, a car is essential." Virginia shares her expat experience of life in Kuala Lumpur.
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