Sarawak Premier, YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg on 6 September 2023 launched the engineering run and Stage 2 of the proof-of-concept (POC) exercise for the prototype Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) hydrogen-powered vehicle.
The Premier also went on a test ride of the prototype ART vehicle together with other invited guests, along the engineering run route at the Isthmus.
The launch was also attended by Deputy Premier YB Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, and Deputy Premier YB Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Minister for Transport Sarawak YB Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin, State Secretary YB Datuk Amar Haji Abu Bakar bin Marzuki and chairman of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Tan Sri Datuk Amar (Dr) Haji Abdul Aziz bin Dato Haji Hussain, who is also chairman of Sarawak Metro.
The engineering run is to refine the specification of the ART unit and also to identify any potential issues before proceeding with the POC exercise.
It is also to assess and appraise the performance and the functionality of the ART vehicle, through the prototype unit.
Stage 2 of the POC exercise will be carried out in November and the focus of this exercise is to gather data to evaluate the feasibility of the prototype for the final design of the ART unit.
The POC exercise will be conducted on a 3-kilometre dedicated double lane built between two roundabouts in Kota Samarahan, along the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway.
This stretch will form a section of the permanent dedicated double lane built for the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project’s Blue Line.
During both the engineering run and the POC exercise, selected stakeholders will be invited to take test rides on the prototype ART hydrogen vehicle.
The test rides will also serve the purpose of data collection for Malaysia Institute of Transport (MITRANS), which will carry out a study and survey during the engineering run and POC exercise.
The zero-emission ART vehicle is the backbone of the KUTS project, to ease traffic congestion and to modernise public transport in Sarawak.
The ART vehicles will be operated on dedicated lanes and as such will not share the road with other road users.
The ART hydrogen vehicles run on rubber tyres and hence the dedicated lanes will be trackless.
The lanes will either be at-grade (road level) or elevated.
The ART operation will be supported by a feeder bus network, which will also use hydrogen-powered vehicles to offer the ‘first mile and last mile’ connectivity for commuters.
The move to use hydrogen is in support of the Sarawak Government’s aspirations to advance the hydrogen economy and to decarbonise public transport in Sarawak.
Sarawak Metro, a wholly owned subsidiary of SEDC, has been entrusted by the Sarawak Government implement and develop the KUTS project.
The project is being developed in phases and Phase 1 includes the development of three lines – the Blue Line from Rembus in Kota Samarahan to Hikmah Exchange in the city centre; the Red Line, from Kuching Sentral to Pending; and the Green Line, from Pending to Damai.
Phase 1 of the KUTS project is scheduled to start operation in stages, from the fourth quarter of 2025.