Putting the RM2b Penang Sentral cart before the horse


Penang Sentral
RM2 billion terminal – but not enough funds for public transport (Image from penangsentral.com.my)

So we are going to have a montrous RM2 billion terminal in Butterworth that is supposed to be the gateway to Penang.

This project is supposed to be located on a 12.8ha site “at the existing Butterworth train, bus and ferry terminal and will integrate KTM’s rail services, road transport facilities and the ferry services operated by Penang Port”.

It’s going to be a big money project for Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) and Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputra Berhad (PHBB).

Last year, The Star reported that “it would have two ferry platforms, two monorail platforms, four train platforms, 50 bus platforms and 4,000 parking bays”.

Oops, no federal money for monorail – or trams for that matter – now. It’s pathetic that the state has to celebrate because the federal government has approved RM40 million to revive the broken down Penang Hill railway. (Under the Penang Hill project, a new one-stretch cable railway track will be laid between the lower and upper stations, doing away with the present middle station, reports Malaysiakini. The rail track will be laid to accommodate larger and longer funicular trains.)

The ferry service operates at half the frequency it used to in the 1970s.

We are getting 200 new buses though, which is great. (I hope they are of better quality and accessible by people with disabilities.)

But RM2 billion for a new transport hub – just for 200 new buses spread across the state? If you ask me, it looks like they are putting the cart before the horse. And a mighty expensive cart at that. This is what you call “over the top”. But hey, it’s big bucks for the boys. I guess the money is in the construction.

Why don’t we get the basics of public transport right before we go for this kind of project?

Look at how others are making better use of their funds (Thanks to blog-reader Razwan for highlighting this article from Spiegel Online):


France Rediscovers Its Love of Trams

By Stefan Simons in Paris

Trams are enjoying a comeback in France. From Nantes to Marseille, city planners are building new, high-tech streetcar lines as central elements in urban redevelopment. And they haven’t forgotten any of the French flair the world has come to love.

It’s bright yellow with black stripes — like some kind of futuristic tiger on rails — and it runs through Mulhouse at eight-minute intervals like a streak of light. This city in France’s Alsace region was once a leader in the industrial revolution, but it is now visibly struggling with structural change. The new tram system has brought it fresh pride and and a new sense of self-confidence. Full article

C T Choo has suggested one way of financing the trams.

In contrast, see how we are wasting funds: here’s another look at the sale of MV Agusta on the Benar blog.

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23 Jul 2008 12.31pm

Malaysia is excellence when comes to building mega projects because there is always monetary gains from such projects.Building anything is easy because we the rakyat are footing the bills but maintenance and continue upgrading of these projects are always below expectation due to mediocrity of the administration.After a few years,these projects will turn into an eye sore like Komtar of Penang.

When you do not have a big head,please don’t wear a big hat !

21 Jul 2008 8.22pm

Hell yeah, we need a central station on the mainland to replace the Field Of Craters that is the bus terminal/train station/ferryport. Of course, we need to cut down the cost… RM2B (U$600 million) is too much.

And more buses too. Lets hope the routes are properly planned.

21 Jul 2008 5.26am

This would turn to be another dirty Komatar after few years as Malaysian do not know how to keep clean, appreciate and maintain. Maintance would be given to some cronies who do not know their worl ethics.

20 Jul 2008 11.51pm

Folks, I live on the mainland. Nobody goes to Butterworth for anything.Only to board the ferries.

Just give us a decent bus station like the one which burned down.

We are simple folks, we dont need that high-tech arty-farty white elephant.

20 Jul 2008 6.06pm

RM100 million to buy 200 busses for Rapid Penang? From Scomi perhaps? And money from Penang bridge seemed to be diverted to finance a RM2 billion Penang Sentral. Wah, expensive bus and lagi expensive bus park.

20 Jul 2008 4.53pm

Government are planning ahead for the future of Penang, which is good.

The Question is how long to go before Penang will have a good integrated public transport system ??

Things to Improve
PUBLIC Buses with Proper Bus Stop ( Eg, Singapore public bus)!!
Learn from the neighbour

20 Jul 2008 4.06pm

i have one question:

how long they take to build the Butterworth temporary terminal? if i’m not mistaken, way too long.

pure bulls***. at least RM1b w(could) enter their cronies’ pocket!

Johnny Cheah
Johnny Cheah
20 Jul 2008 3.56pm

I am also a Penangite but now residing in Petaling Jaya. I and my family have been giving our votes to BN during our days in Penang and after our shift to PJ we continue to do the same, that is vote BN during every general election. But enough is enough, for the 12th. general election, we voted for the opposition. Reason for our change of heart, the BN government is not taking us anywhere. They are only helping themselves, their relatives and cronies to make millions out of the rakyat. Gerakan and MCA is now out of Penang leaving… Read more »

20 Jul 2008 3.13pm

The current facilities for those using public transport – trains, local buses, express buses – arriving in Butterworth are pathetic. But I’m very sure a decent infrastructure can be built for a fraction of RM 2 Billion.

This looks like another “Make Cronies Richer” project.

Ilham Hanafi
Ilham Hanafi
20 Jul 2008 2.57pm

Did I not read that MRCB got the mega Johore project also. Looks like it’s pouring in for MRCB or is it that they have been getting a lot of it all along.- Ex Neutral.

20 Jul 2008 2.40pm


You’re spot on. It’s the same think with their decision to increase fuel price twice 2006 (32cents) and 4 Jun 08 (78cents) without first solving the public transportation woes.

After 1 month, more people are going back to driving because they’re frustated with the inefficient transportation. We need more buses on the road now instead of waiting for quad-coach at the end of next year.

I agree with your take that Tram might be a more efficient and cost effective way compared with monorail. Besides, it wont spoil the scenic view. With efficient buses, we’re home!

20 Jul 2008 2.10pm

This is just money for the boys or should I say, the Class F contractors.

20 Jul 2008 12.36pm

And if I remember correctly, that statement was made in conjunction with the opening of KL Sentral.

20 Jul 2008 11.54am

Did you see who were at the launching,this s***bags are shameless. It is called common courtesy to invite the cm of the state even if it is a federal launch. (Perhaps) more umno plundering here anil without much benefit to the rakyat.

20 Jul 2008 10.48am

Another ******* from BN government to dig from the National Coffers for (whose) benefit? Look at the so called new buses to be deployed ……which company is behind the project…..??????
Everybody knows……..

20 Jul 2008 10.25am

They never have money for this and that but when it comes to more grand infrastructure, they do.

It basically reflects what they are: all form and no substance. Badawi needs to be constantly reminded of his first world infrastructure but third world mentality statement.

Come to think of it, the former is actually being fuelled by the latter.

20 Jul 2008 7.30am

The government is still far far far way behind the public’s perception of what is needed by the society in term’s of activities for social economic advancement and easing the current grid-lock mobility. Aren’t the country currentyly an economic slowdown, then why are we still busy dumping the much needed public fund into gigantic projects??? A fraction os the fund alone would be able to provide the immediate solutions for the near term future, and the remainder of the fund could best be utilised for social economic developments. Please, Please, Please do not waste the money for gigantic structure again.… Read more »

Silent Voter
Silent Voter
20 Jul 2008 2.11am

BN goverment only interested spending taxpayers money for their crony company such as MRCB and the same…New train service at Bkt Bendera expected RM40mil is of no priority to penang folks…it only for tourists…but foreign tourist do not want new train services is lost the estatic value…may be much lesser fund needed to buy new locomotive and repair the rail.

Penang folk do u share my comment?

20 Jul 2008 2.07am

Aiyaaa…..this project is just another make “money upfront” project by the BN govenment maaaa……let the rakyat and their children and their cucu pay for it till time eternity. Netto….after all these years, I am surprised that you are unschooled in the ways of the “lanun”…..