Check out Taiwan’s first street-level light rail or modern tram sytem.
The cost of the entire project is NT$16.5bn (RM2.0bn) for 22.1km with 37 stops. This works out to RM90m/km. And, I would imagine, costs of materials, labour, fuel and utilities in Taiwan are higher than in Malaysia.
This is a catenary-free system – no overhead wires – which means it would be ideal for a heritage state like Penang. Phase 1 (of two phases) is 8.7km, and has just been opened. The system is touted as Taiwan’s most environmentally friendly rail system.
Compare this to the estimated costs of Penang’s proposed elevated LRT (likely to be RM220m/km) and monorail (RM170m/km) systems, which would mar the heritage street-scape and probably require a lot more tree-cutting.
A moderm tram system in Penang could cost as low as RM40m/km and carry as many passengers as overhead rail systems, with ramps over difficult road stretches. So why would we want to pay a lot more for a more expensive entirely elevated rail system?
The savings could be put to better use to improve sustainable transport across the state. It would also mean less land needs to be reclaimed to finance these transport infrastructure.