Appointed to the Penang Transport Council; your suggestions, please

A trolley bus at Chulia Street, 1926

So I have been appointed to the Penang Transport Council. I thank the state government for appointing this “vocal critic” (cough, cough) to the council as a representative of Aliran.

It is heartening that the state government has said it has nothing to hide. In the same spirit of full transparency, I hope to share the views of the public with the council and in turn share with the public what I learn from the council.

While waiting for the terms of reference and the official appointment letter to the council, I realise I have a lot to learn about the present situation.

So the first thing I would like to do is seek an appointment for a private meeting with the RapidPenang CEO to find out what’s what and to discuss what can be done to improve bus ridership in Penang. After all, Halcrow had recommended buses and trams as the key ingredients of its Penang Transport Masterplan.

Next, I will seek a meeting with the Penang ferries chief to find out what plans they have to either improve the service or transfer it to the Penang state government and to offer suggestions as a long-time (and often frustrated!) ferry user. If the ferry service is expanded, we won’t need a third bridge or tunnel for cars anytime soon. That would save us a bundle. (Instead, perhaps we should be thinking of a cross-channel rail link from the new Penang Sentral in Butterworth.)

That should keep me busy for a while! In the meantime, before I meet RapidPenang, perhaps you would like to share with me your views on what it would take to convince you to use RapidPenang buses.

Enrique Penalosa once said, “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” We should adopt these wise words as the mission statement for Penang (and Malaysian) transport policy.

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LGE tak boleh

Hi Anil, based on HSSI draft prospectus (page 122 prepared for IPO listing), the contract value for engineering design for the implementation of 3 major roads project and undersea third link tunnel in Penang was only RM20m. Why the feasibility study and detailed design cost a bomb at RM305m?

LGE tak boleh

Page 4 of The Edge Financial Daily dated 15 June 2016

Zarul was quoted saying the cost of feasibility study for the undersea tunnel and 3 paired came to RM305m, of which RM220m was for the 3 paired roads.

The 3 paired roads have a total length of about 22km. It costs RM10m/km to do the feasibility study?


Anil, this is one suggestion for BRT (Rapid Penang?) & Tram public transport: Apps (for smart phones) supported transport info on the go. Available info of each bus or tram on each transit line, i.e. live relay of its geo-position to next coming bus / tram stop & its capacity (full or half full of passengers). This will help to decide when to go to bus / tram stop instead of wasting time waiting there. Also, the timetable should be short intervals of transport & on time schedule. To make apps supported transport info a reality, it can be financed… Read more »


– Lighter and slower means including (i) walking and roller-skating (ii) 2- or 3-wheelers, whether manual or electric. Notes: This requires an effective police presence. Walking and cycling require washrooms within places of work. Walking requires (i) road crossings protected by traffic lights, not overhead bridges (ii) safe dividers in the middle of broader roads (iii) pavement awnings or level, shop corridors in some places. It will also benefit from elevated paths between buildings. 2- and 3-wheelers require (i) protected lanes (ii) secure stands (iii) acceptance of foldable bikes in buses, trains vehicles and buildings. A well-designed bike lane can… Read more »


Another running dog has sold his soul.


Anil, 1.I think one key question to address is the financial model. The Singapore model is different from the HK model. The model the KL-SG High Speed Train is different too. I would propose to include SPAD and MOT folks in the committee to prevent any issues regarding licencing and approvals and also to align national transportation plans. I believe SPAD can also help on the financing. I am afraid if this is decided by the state, they will go back to their old excuses of having no money and do a land swap again. 2. Operator – who will… Read more »


why make life difficult? let federal gomen take over like in kl and they can addd % if they want. after all. you pay and we pay include those from sarawak. but you, anil and rest can give input. now they not only listen but adopt our suggestions. state gomen no need to sell land. all except tax payers will be happy. if they operate at a loss, all taxpayers pay and no need burden state gomen and sell more land. now see who will sell more than to china chinese. maybe sell one of sparty island as we oredi… Read more »


Penang island land area is one third the size of Singapore! Why is it not viable to build underground MRT unless somebody can tell me that its soil condition does not allows it & was there any authoritative analysis done on this?


who wants his hse if not sink but crack? this oso answer part of calvin’s statement on singland mrt problems.


The problem is cost. I believe underground MRT is a few times more expensive than over-ground one. I believe for Penang’s size and population, an underground MRT is not financially feasible or cost effective. I would suggest a few key MRT links but supported mainly by an efficient bus system as the 2nd layer and trams as the 3rd layer (at the key commercial areas).


anil, very important questions to ask rapid.
1 are they operate with profit,break even or loss? if at loss how are they going to improve the service


These can be promoted through taxes, regulation, incentives and infrastructure: – Lighter and slower travel including walking, 2- or 3-wheelers. Notes: This requires an effective police presence. Walking requires (a) road crossings protected by traffic lights, not overhead bridges (b) safe dividers in the middle of broader roads (c) pavement awnings or standard, level shop corridors in some places. It will also benefit from elevated paths between buildings. 2- and 3-wheelers require (a) protected lanes (b) secure stands (c) acceptance of foldable bikes in buses, trains vehicles and buildings. A well-designed bike lane can lead directly to the 2nd or… Read more »


The tram system can be implemented with minimun road works on existing roads if we adopt the design of raised trams newly manufactured by China where cars can still run underneath the passing trams. With controllable speed and clear audible signals the approaching trams will not pose any danger of knocking into pedestrians or other vehicles. About the nasty issue of cutting down of trees, if the cut has to be made after all deliberations fail in alternative choices, then it has to go.If there is transparency and open debate I think people will understand. But you must make sure… Read more »

Phua Kai Lit

One suggestion:

Clear the five foot ways outside shophouses so that tourists can walk easily from
one place to another in the shade.

Shop owners can display goods using five foot ways, but pedestrians must be able to use them easily.
It should be made illegal for people to cement off five foot ways and obstruct pedestrian
traffic by this action.

David Loman

Please make provisions for bicycle lanes to promote active cycling in Penang.
Learn from the Danish experience:

Copenhagen Bike Paths – An Example To All Cities


Good governance requires learning (which requires admitting ignorance) and blocking corruption. We refuse to learn even from Singapore.


Anil said he will visit Rapid Penang, hope he will ask the CEO why its services cannot be like in Spore, where buses arrived punctually 10 or 15 mins interval?


1) Singapore have dedicated bus lane on certain road
2) They adhered strictly to “Give Way” to bus coming out from bus stop
3) there is no strict enforcement of car found waiting / parking at bus stop
4) majority of bus user use smartcard for seamless boarding / alighting the bus compared to Rapid Penang which still use coins
5) Even if you drive car and need to pass Greenlane, can you ensure that you can arrive at the same time to your destination everyday, if you can’t what makes you think the bus can?

james k

Agreed. Please suggest to Gov to prioritise cyclists and pedestrians over cars and motorcycles.
If they make cycling easy no matter rain or shine people will use it.

Another video about cycling in Copenhagen:


In Malaysia, we will have to use electric bicycle, due to the weather. However, the authorities have not given the green light to use them. Have they?


Firstly a big congrats! I really hope that the PTC will be allowed to play an active role in coming up with a long term strategy that is sustainable, cost effective and people-oriented. I sincerely hope that it will not be abused and hijacked by the Tokong and his minions to push their own agenda as happened in the case of PMTP. I think the members must make it clear that they must be allowed to be independent and empowered to make the decisions rather than being mere rubber stamp. Please do ignore the remarks by the DAP supporters here… Read more »


just a side point. see you work in hk see how the anti corruption and police force operate there as compare with bolehland. no wonder you make noises because they are opersted by our federal gomen which you have a strong affinity. hk is building highways even as a small island just as singland. you can whiz to tuen mun shenzhen yuen long by bus and soon macau because mrt has a fixed route. mrt has limited seats but you are sure of meeting your appointment on time. also why federal gomen does not provide addition funds to pg statement?


I am not interested in political discussion here so shall we stick to the topic on hand, shall we? As I said, let’s not make unrealistic comparison and end up comparing apple and durians. The set up in HK and SG is very different from Penang. Firstly they live in sky high apartments and only the super rich live on the landed properties or even terrace houses. As such, most people are concentrated in certain highly populated areas, so this makes transport planning much much easier. In Penang we are spread out all across the state. Secondly these two are… Read more »


okay. often in the past you just love to dig up cheap political points like pasar mlm when you are working international for mnc. you may work in singland and hk. they are relatively clean gomen and surprise you still love the tainted admin and its public service. singland mrt has its problems because it is different from hk geologically and less green than hk. but singland public houses are vastly bigger than hk. as you aware snr citizens in hk paid 1 rm to travel anywhere per trip and more than 1k rm assistance monthly allowance. what did your… Read more »

Khoo Soo Hay

Dear Anil, Congratulations on your appointment. We need an independent voice, but above all, there is a need for a workable transport plan for Penangites whether on the island or on the mainland. There are of course some important guidelines, like where possible, less cutting down of trees, avoiding abolishing houses, i.e. not disrupting residents, ensuring proper drainage control and provision for pedestrains walk. When I was in Vancouver, there they provide proper paths for the passage of invalids driving their electric battery chair vehicles in the city. This enabled them to go to the supermarkets on their own, without… Read more »

Lai Fook Hoy

Congratulations, as this seems to be in order.
Pertaining to the matter of transport, I have several observations which may be relevant. Can you be reached by email?
Lai FH

Kc lim

Clear the walkways for pedestrians n persons with disabilities. Improve all bus stops with lighted shelters and proper pavements which wheelchair users can use to board buses.

Jason Seong Wei Loh

Please ask the state govt to implement the tram system in Georgetown …….

Cheah Sin Kooi

Go for it Anil……with a vocal critic inside the council, I am rest assured that Penangites interested are well taken care of……


Firstly, congratulations on your appointment. Here are my inputs. Hope you will consider them. 1. why not consider modern trolley buses as another alternative to trams or monorails within the inner city? They are almost maintenance free and there is no need to dig up roads. Some people dismiss trolley buses as “outdated” technology, but it certainly isn’t true, and there are cities in Europe that have implemented new trolleybus systems. 2. I echo the suggestion regarding using smaller vans or buses on the less traveled Rapid Penang routes. They may get to their destination faster compared to the current… Read more »


Start to ask for more and frequent bus services from housing estate to Town and factories areas. Second take over ferries services from UMNo and run it proffesionally. rajraman.Watch out for the cunning fox in form of Political Traders. They normally humbled and listened but end up like councillor Lim when they can’t take the heat. The heat is on and appointing vocal critics might just to cool the heat. If Halcrow appointed and paid for their input, why the Political Traders in Komtar Tower don’t implement it? $$$ also speak everyday nowdays. Good luck Anil and ready for more… Read more »


Congratulation! However, some of my comments which may not be sweet to you. “…share the views of the public…” Please do not assume that you are representing the general public, or majority of us. While you are opposing to certain project/proposal, many are looking forward to have it. Agree with Richard Loh, please view it open mindedly, and with genuine facts, not only those within your appetite. Remember: 1) Town planning is not simply of “what I feel it should be” or “a general view”. It consists of scientific elements which you just cannot say NO because you think so.… Read more »


i seen plenty of painted cycle lanes but no one is using bicycles. cars and penang boon siew kapcais. who fails? u want cycle lanes it is given buf no one uses it. instead they use 4wds with monkey bars

melissa darcy

I would echo Yeong’s comments. Good luck on your future undertakings with regards to the appointment. You mentioned that almost everyone who’s present at the Halcrow public consultation workshop was in favour of “sustainable transport, including the rights of pedestrians and cyclists.” I’d wonder about the opinions of those who weren’t there then. Anyway, I think convenience, safety, connectivity, frequency, punctuality, affordability are some of the areas that I value. Speed too. (Just my humble opinion.)


Connectivity is a key issue. With Rapid Penang there is none. Why does everything start/end from KOMTAR? No reason. Bus timetables need to be real, accurate and enforced. How about minivans on less popular routes/smaller roads…connecting with RP buses? There should be secure cycle parking all over Penang. Security guards, particularly from the Hunza group, who have manhandled and abused me and my bike on more than one occasion at Gurney Plaza, should be briefed to treat cyclists with respect. Ditto motorists. We need separated cycle lanes/paths joining all parts of Penang, not just tourist areas in Georgetown. Speed limits… Read more »

Sarajun Hoda

15 years ago I submitted a pedestrian ferry plan to the State Govt. In 2005, I repeated again when I represented Batu Kawan MP to the Future Plan proposals. Looking at the traffic study then, the heaviest traffic was from somewhere in Bukit mertajam and Komtar area. I suppose it was the basis for 2nd bridge. My proposal was to have ferries (5 clockwise, another 5 anticlockwise) go full circle with 4 quick stops on mainland ( Batu Kawan, Perai Industrial, Prai Ferry, Bagan Ajam) and 4 quick stops on the Island (Tanjong Tokong, Raja Uda Ferry terminal, Gelugor and… Read more »


passenger ferries license comes from federal gomen. tell well being minister for well being of malaysia. get ferries like macau ferries. fast but expensive. cost about 75 bucks for 1 hr journey for royal casinos.

Khoo Boo Yeang

Meanwhile, introduce immediately a passenger ferry service (catamaran) from Penang International Cruise Ship Terminal to Butterworth to alleviate the cruel walkway especially from the Butterworth terminal to railway station. Also, KTM have lately introduced several changes to its ETS service to KL Sentral (5am, 7am, 7.45am) and arrivals from KL (last train arrival 11.30pm). Penang ferry schedule should be synchronised. Thank you.

Terence Choot

Since there are so many arguments on the choices of mode of transportation for the future development, why don`t the states govt begins by enhancing BRT(bus rapid transit) on current public transport?


Learn the proven, incomparable advantages of BRT from Curutiba (Brazil), Bogota, Seoul, etc.

Lourdes Dass Peter

Good and practical suggestion


rapid is run by federal gomen. state gomen ask federal gomen for $¥£€ but pokai and state has to find ways for fund. instead now you want state to help rapid for busways?


Dear Anil, Some input for your new job. 1. Lately I took a Rapid bus from Tg Tokong to Tg Bunga. The ride was only 10 mins; quick and easy BUT I had to wait 20 mins for a bus to come. 2. Just returned from Japan. They sell dozens of popular car brands to M’sia but have no traffic congestion at home. To own a car in Tokyo, one needs to prove to have a permanent parking space and pay expensive road tax, etc. In return there is excellent public transport, running frequently and on the dot time wise.… Read more »