Come for this forum tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon and let’s dissect the sales pitch for the proposed Penang elevated light rail (LRT). This single LRT line in Penang Island (from the airport to Komtar) under the bloated proposal by SRS Consortium will cost more than RM10bn.
That is more than the cost of bus rapid transit, modern trams and an expanded ferry service for the entire state, including the mainland, under the original Halcrow transport masterplan.
And they expect daily 81,000 ridership for the SRS LRT when it is completed in – get this – 2038! That is down from the earlier projected daily figure of 115,000 (ie 42 million per year) which many critics had ridiculed. In contrast, Penang’s present bus ridership for the whole state is about 90,000 per day.
Who will pay for the annual LRT operations and maintenance cost of about RM170m if the projected ridership figure is not met?
Singapore operates close to 6,000 buses. Rapid Penang has only around 300 buses despite the land mass in Penang being larger than Singapore. Mainland Penang alone is larger than Singapore.
Only 4% of Penang residents use public transport whereas 67% use public transport in Singapore (and the island republic is now aiming for 75%).
Contrary to widespread belief, buses in Singapore carry more people than the MRT or LRT. Check out these 2015-2018 ridership figures from the Land Transport Authority of Singapore:
Similarly, in London, buses carry more passengers than even the London Underground railway, Transport for London figures show.
So why isn’t Penang focusing on improving our bus service instead of spending billions on mega projects that we can ill afford?
Although the video below is about monorail (which the Penang government has also fallen for), it shows how people can easily fall for slick marketing talk.