Most passengers do not have Komtar as their destination and to dedicate huge areas of prime land for platforms of stationed, waiting trains is undesirable, asserts Alex Koenig.
German urban planner Alex Koening, who spent many years in Penang, recently looked at the public transport component of SRS Consortium’s proposal for transport infrastructure in Penang and provided the following feedback:
Public transport planning not for longterm
Looking at the projection “horizon”, population and housing development is projected for many decades into the future, but public transport on the island is done only for the three to four major corridor links of today, connecting to the shopping centre of George Town.
To improve or rather to build efficient rail transport along these corridors is is long overdue and is not a longterm plan.
Looking at comparable cities in Taiwan, for instance, or Singapore and KL, one can see that already today, the entire urban area is criss-crossed by MTR/LRT lines, forming a net.
[This would be similar to] for instance allowing a train service from the airport to Butterworth, or from Ayer Itam via USM.
The planning horizon of public transport has to correspond to that of housing, and phases of implementation should be indicated.
After World War Two, monorails had been proposed and developed in Western Germany to overcome war damage to tram lines. But their system failed. (Likewise in the 1970s, a monorail was proposed from Komtar to Ayer Itam during planning stage by Team 3, however, [the proposal] failed, like in most other places around the world).
Most existing monorails nowadays get dismantled; the latest is Moscow. They are not standardised; therefore each system depends on the wellbeing of its manufacturer.
On the other hand, standardised equipment for MRT/LRT/trams is nowadays readily available at competitive prices.
[Monorails] are fun park equipment and not good for lasting public transport.
Mistake to turn Komtar into transport hub
Looking at the proposed LRT line (from the proposed three islands to Komtar), I see it as a severe mistake to turn Komtar unnecessarily into a “transport (rail) hub”.
Train lines never should terminate in a city centre; [they shoud] always continue through to the “other side”.
Most passengers do not have Komtar as their destination and to dedicate huge areas of prime land for platforms of stationed, waiting trains is undesirable.
As a solution, I would propose, for example, to operate “dual mode” trains which run at a fast speed on the sector South Island-Komtar and continue perhaps “on-street” as a kind of (elevated?) tram service, as for instance in the Loire Valley, France or Karlsruhe, Germany.
One even could think of an express service collecting passengers at the southern islands up to the airport and continue from there directly to Komtar with perhaps only USM as one stop in between.
While another slow service would start at the airport and continue until Tanjung Bungah, stopping at all stops.
Likewise, could an LRT/tram service be operating between Ayer Itam and the jetty terminal with an interchange at Sia Boey/Komtar, operating from there as a tram or an on-level LRT [service].
A pre-condition for this system is overhead electricity supply and no third rail. All lines need to have standard or narrow gauge as a common system.