JOHOR BAHRU: The Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT) project will be moving into the next phase which involves a three-month pilot testing programme.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the pilot programme includes the involvement of nine bus suppliers, conducting a demonstration of the latest green bus technologies, including electric and biodiesel.

He said the programme will be conducted by the IRDA along Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar between Horizon Hill and Anjung in Medini beginning April 8.

"The participating suppliers will showcase buses ranging from six metres, 12 metres to 32 metres.A study will also be undertaken by the Malaysia Institute of Transport to assess the performance of the automated rapid transit system, especially its turning, manoeuvrability, and lane-changing capabilities on the road.

"Meanwhile, the six-metre buses would undergo testing to gauge the feasibility of feeder routes and also battery life span (per trip) for the electric buses," he said in a statement here, today.

Ismail said the programme would mark a significant milestone for the IMBRT as the project goes into full gear.

"An efficient and integrated public transport infrastructure is a catalyst for attracting foreign and domestic investments into the region to spur further economic growth.

"We are confident that the IMBRT system will enhance mobility for the people by providing first and last-mile connectivity and access for Iskandar Malaysia," he said.

Billed as the backbone of public transportation in Iskandar Malaysia, the IMBRT's primary goal is to enhance public transportation coverage within the region from 39 per cent to 90 per cent, and increase public transportation modal share from 15 per cent to 40 per cent by 2025.

The IMBRT will provide 55 feeder and 44 direct services, bringing the total network coverage to 2,051 km or approximately 90 per cent of the populated area of Iskandar Malaysia.

The IMBRT's main trunk line has a span of 54.92 km across Skudai, Tebrau, and Iskandar Puteri.

It will consist of 33 stations, with one hub in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) on the Skudai Line.

The main trunk line will also have two end stations -- one in Desa Jaya on the Tebrau Line and the other in Anjung on the Iskandar Puteri Line.