As you can see, Penang once had an eco-friendly public transport system.

Weld Quay 1950s

Notice the bicycles, trishaws and electric double-decker buses near the ferry terminal along Weld Quay in the 1950s - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways

Trolleybus No. 36 passing by the Railway Jetty at Weld Quay - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways

Thanks to Ric for this photo from the 1950s. Click on the photo to view a full-screen version.

Here you can see a trolleybus passing by the Railway Jetty along Weld Quay. The Railway Jetty was located at the site of the present-day Church Street Pier. You can see a newspaper vendor and money-changer at the entrance to the Jetty.

Trolleybuses, ferries and trishaws and not a car in sight. People used to buy a train ticket at the Malayan Railway office along Weld Quay and then hop on a ferry to the Prai Junction railway station on the mainland near present-day Prai, where they could board a train. (The present railway station in Butterworth was only opened in 1967.) The two or three ferries shuttling between the Railway Jetty and Prai in the early 1950s were known as ‘Elizabeth II’, ‘Violet’ (and ‘Ibrahim’?).

The trolley buses and tram cars on the island were a major draw for visitors to Penang, he added. “It felt as if we were entering a foreign land.”

Unfortunately, the state government is now taking the regressive step of catering for private motor vehicles with major road infrastructure projects in the pipeline, and this is likely to be financed by more controversial land reclamation swap deals.

If you have any other old photos of places and people of interest to share, do send them to me. (See ‘Submit photos’ link at the top of the page.)

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