The Penang government claims that 97% of close to 3,000 respondents have indicated support for the proposed elevated light rail system going by the responses to a questionnaire at several booths around the state including at the Penang airport. Seriously?
Have you seen the questionnaire? It has three laughably ludicrous and leading questions.
Question 1: Do you support the PTMP as a means of reducing traffic congestion in Penang Island?
My comments: Of course, everyone would support a Penang transport masterplan if they are told it would reduce congestion.
But most people would not know which Penang transport masterplan this question is referring to or what it entails.
- Does PTMP refer to the cheaper Halcrow plan, which put forward bus rapid transit and modern trams, which would be largely elevated or segregated from traffic except in the heritage area?
- Or the bloated RM50bn SRS plan, which came up with expensive options that would require massive land reclamation to finance it, jeopardising our fisheries while putting state finances in a precarious position?
What about mainland Penang? Forgotten under phase 1? Who cares about the mainland for the next I-don’t-know-how-many years, right?
Question 2: The priority public transport to be built under PTMP is the Bayan Lepas LRT. Will you be using it upon completion?
This doesn’t tell respondents where the LRT is going to from Bayan Lepas. So how are they to know if they will be using it?
I told a relative in her eighties that this single elevated light rail line is supposed to be from Penang Airport to Komtar.
Her immediate response: “Why Komtar?”
I think she has more sense than all the bloated PTMP planners put together!
This second question does not even mention that the cost of the LRT has been rising to a staggering “more than RM10bn” now. Now, RM10bn would have been enough to put in decent public transport across the entire state including mainland Penang (under the Halcrow plan).
This question also does not mention other more affordable alternatives – an efficient bus system, modern trams and automous rail rapid transit.
The question fails to mention the SRS plan for a RM9bn Pan Island Link from the north to the south of the island. Wouldn’t many respondents prefer to drive along this new extravagant highway (for the few years before it gets congested) instead of taking the Komtar-to-Bayan Lepas elevated light rail route?
No mention in this question about the bloated projected LRT ridership figure (42 million per year in an island with just over 700,000 residents) put up under the SRS plan, which critics have panned. What happens if the ridership is not met? How will the Penang state government cough up the money if ticket sales are unable to cover operational costs and maintenance? Where is it going to get the money from? From the public?
Without all this information, how are respondents to provide informed answers? Would they still support the elevated light rail if they knew all this?
So basically, those who framed this question are preying on public ignorance of these all-important details.
Question 3 – Do you support/agree that Penangites should look at public transport as a greener and cheaper way of getting around?
What kind of stupidly obvious question is this? This question is trying to hoodwink Penangites into thinking that the transport modes put forward under the extravagant PTMP are the only public transport modes around.
But the reality is that there are other more affordable and efficient options that can be built more quickly at a fraction of the cost.
I think this question aims to put into the respondents’ minds that the bloated PTMP is a greener and cheaper way of getting around – when it is not.
My advice to Penangites: Don’t waste your time with this farcical “questionnaire” that is not worth the paper it is printed on.
It reminds me of all those top-down largely one-way “consultation sessions” and “public briefings” on the “PTMP”. At those sessions, ordinary people were by and large not provided with real alternatives to the bloated RM50bn SRS transport proposal, which entails massive ecologically damaging land reclamation to finance it.