Conceiving transit space in Singapore/Johor: a research agenda for the Strait Transnational Urban Region (STUR)
Between Singapore and Johor Bahru (JB) about 30,000?50,000 people cross the Johor Strait during weekdays to enjoy better wages in Singapore; vice versa during the weekends Singaporeans enjoy the high purchasing value of the Singaporean dollar over Malaysian goods and entertainment. These cross-border dynamics affect many strata of the local social geography and, therefore, the economic dynamics of this region. Johor?Singapore is indeed a rapidly emerging transnational urban region in Southeast Asia. Recent plans are being implemented in Johor to move up the value chain from the industrial to the knowledge sector. Iskandar Malaysia is a vision which aims to reinvent JB as a centre for leisure, high-tech production and the knowledge industry. But to what extent can urban planning contribute to achieving at least part of such targets is the focus of this article, set in the frame of a wider transnational urban region? With the intensification of planned gated communities, extensive land privatization and increasing infrastructure investment to support a car-based urban development, the risk for JB is to move away from its original, noble purposes. To unfold the transnational urban issues of this region, we propose investigating its transit space. In a comparative manner, in this article we show how problems such as perceived lack of safety, ineffective public transport, splintered urban developments, scarce environmental sustainability and extreme privatization of land and services are all aspects which can be better managed by planning a good transit space. Last but not the least, improving Malaysian transit space will facilitate intercultural dialogue among the different, Malaysian ethnic groups in the spirit of the recent government's motto of ?1Malaysia?.