This is a piece on the trams of Penang that I wrote as a guest blogger for The Guardian:
George Town on the island of Penang in Malaysia used to have a viable tram system in the early
20th century. It was part of a fairly integrated and efficient transport system.
But then the trams faded away in this British ‘Crown Colony’, with the advent of buses and private motor vehicles, at about the same time some of the tram systems in Europe disappeared.
After independence in 1957, the Penang city council operated a fairly efficient bus network. But the bus service suffered in the 1990s after services were privatised.
More and more people turned to private vehicles, as Malaysia encouraged a national car industry, churning out Proton models. Cars crowded the city’s narrow streets, navigating past rickshaw cyclists (the successors of the manual rickshaw pullers) as motorcyclists on Hondas weaved their way past slow-moving traffic. Full article here. Full article in The Guardian here.