Why street-level light rail would be a better option for Penang


We do need a transit system from George Town to the airport but not in the way the Penang transport masterplan envisages.

It is not appropriate for a world heritage site or its vicinity to have raised transport infrastructure, which would be intrusive to the landscape. Moreover, what is planned seems out of keeping and oversized for the needs of Penang.

Instead, it would be more feasible and economical for light rail to run at street level in the city, rising to elevated level where required. It should be kept at ground level as far as possible.

The alignment of the track should take into account the residential density e.g. how many people can access the station within 400m.

The present alignment does not appear to include Queensbay or nearby areas, where many people are expected to live and visit.

If we have an an Airport-Komtar LRT line, what happens when people arriving in Penang airport want to head to Tanjung Tokong and beyond in the north? This means they would have catch an LRT train to Komtar, George Town, where they would have to disembark and walk some way to a different platform to board a monorail for the onward journey to Tanjung Tokong and further north. With all their luggage.

Instead, we should have a street-level system which can easily branch out at interchanges to various destinations. Why do we need to have a cocktail of systems, ie elevated LRT, street-level trams and monorail? These are three different systems requiring separate management, operations and maintenance personnel, and depots.

Elevated LRT and monorail systems would be difficult and expensive to expand. Each elevated LRT station would be huge and expensive to build. In KL, each LRT station covers 0.5-1.0 acre. Many cities are trying to avoid this kind of heavy infrastructure.

Check out this large LRT station:

large elevated LRT station

And compare it with a street-level station:

street-level light rail station image

Which do you think will cost more?

If we have an elevated LRT system, the Penang airport station would have to be some distance away from the airport terminal proper.

An alternative street-level system

We should have one system: street-level light rail that can be elevated at certain difficult stretches. With light rail, the street-level stations are smaller, more accessible, and can be located near park-and-ride amenities.

These light rail trains can also run on underground power; so there may be no need for wires – and no need to cut down trees.

A typical elevated LRT system costs RM220m/km whereas street level light rail costs just RM60m/km. The savings could be better used elsewhere like improving public transport in areas on the mainland not covered by the transport masterplan.

We also need to look at the feeder-bus services, taxis and park-and-ride strategies for the light rail.

Look at Melbourne, with a population of 4.6m, almost three times larger than Penang’s. It has the largest (street- level) light rail network in the world with 250km of track with annual ridership of 150m.

Melbourne’s busiest route – the 19km Box Port to Port Hill with 67 stations – carries 15m people per year, with trams running every six to seven minutes during peak hours.

In contrast, according to those who have sighted the request for proposals, the Penang Airport-Komtar LRT route is projected to be used by 14,700 passengers per hour per direction by 2055. (This would probably be equivalent to around say 40m passengers per year.) But the infrastructure that is to be built now is meant for 18,500 pphpd.

So are we saying that Penang in 2055 would have a bigger population than Melbourne’s now?

If we adopted a light rail network, we could save billions in costs. The savings could be used to:
– reduce the extent of land reclamation required to finance the swap deal,
– reduce the road damage to the hills. Instead, there could be longer stretches of tunnels below the hills, and
– expand the public transport network on the mainland.

Check out the alignment here.

The entire masterplan can be found here.

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My reason for no raised LRT is it it no good for the old people and the disable to climb the high level. Street level is able to be available to these people PLUS WHEEL CHAIR PEOPLE.



SINGAPORE: Developers will be required to incorporate the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in their plans, announced the Ministry of National Development (MND) on Monday (April 11) as it unveiled further plans to move Singapore towards a “car-lite, people-friendly” city. Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will require developers to plan for pedestrian and cyclist access, and review locations of bicycle parking facilities as well as vehicular access points to minimise conflict with pedestrians and cyclists. MND will also create more dedicated paths within all HDB estates for walking,… Read more »


You mean the VVVIPs in their expensive cars with outriders must wait at the crossings for the riff-raff to pass before them?


MDBC Dialogue on Penang Transport Master Plan

Tua Pai Kiah

Gerakan Penang will be undergoing big overhaul this week; and hopefully the new line up can provide good and constructive inputs for Penang Transport Plan. However, I am doubtful as the “new” Gerakan leaders likely to continue to engage in Taman Manggis/Pinhorn Bangalow matters, probably under direction from the central body ? Gerakan secreatary general Liang Teck Meng (Simpang Renggam MP) was on TV3’s Soal Jawab last night continued blasting LGE (to the delights of some Penang-Lang) on Manggis/Bangalow. Sensing no revival after 308 & 505 collapse, Teng Chang Yeow reported ready to step down. Last week in his facebook… Read more »


My hokkien community calls Liang a truly lansailang; and may be Lim can explain the terminology?


Tua piah kiah.
Better ask BN to go back to teng sua ot teong kok and see how china’s train work. Cost about 60 ringgit for a hard sleeper for 9 hour journey. Train is equipped with 4 tiers bunk beds, with thick blankets, hot water, wash basins, coach for a bar with music and another coach for dinning.


Aiyaa comment for betterment of Malaysia kena whack.
Don’t comment kena whack.
Whack UMNo okay but whack deity not okay?

rajraman. Sorry i seldom bark at barking … but just came to defence myself.I have nothing to gain from seeing Deity.He already made up his mind like other commenters question him means against him personally.
Anil, why are you keep posting something not favourable to Deity?
Are you a member of Gerakan or Kimma? Do you want to be a Politician?


Whack lies of either sites.
Also need to have reality check otherwise simply whack also brainless.
No saint on earth. Whack the worst ones as priority to awaken the public if kopi lull them to sleep 🙂


Whack to wake him up without coffee.
Everytime he think he his right. Call liars 7 times in press conference like he don’t make a mistakes.
The untouchargeable Deity like UMNo?

rajraman. Excellent state of mind without buying Political Traders lies.
I am just a Pasar Malam Trader. Need to pay market price without discount for my mercedes and house.


Can pasar malam sell mercedes with discount? Pasar malam prefers to sell to BN expensive with huge commission for everyone. As report in parliament, under BN a screw driver can cost a few hundred ringgits. Anyway Mercedes happen during the Jurassic age, many moons ago. Still a interest to dinosour. Is time to move to ahead rather backwards. No interest in 1mbd report ( billions not important? ) or land sold cheaply by Penang action council or can join in the debate on taman manggis. We will cheer you for any strong point. Surprise at the way direct to anil.… Read more »


Why do you feel the heat Zoro?
Which chilli do you eat? Chilli padi or chilli api?
You feed the words i am Pasar Malam Trader and post it again the words because i know you will come after me.
1MDB – go there and read my comment.I whack the Bugisman and Tokong.

rajraman. Now i vomit out the Pasar Malam Trader indirectly to you and you feel the heat? The repeated 7 times lies was ultered by the Tokong towards Councillor Lim.


You know when monkeys touch or bite chilli, they will predictably behave as you have mentioned.
To ‘bite the bullets’ for Niao Kong …
The predictable behaviour of these Deity’s minions is to attack using your credentials or personal matters (that have nothing to do with these idiots) the moment you mentioned them in any discourse. They are experts in turning them to suit their dirty personality attacks, fine tuned for the occasion or topic.
My Advice: Just throw more chilli at them.


So you are caught lying and feel the heat. You sing about anil is clean and honest in earlier posting. Now you sing a different tune. A lie is a lie. So what qualification to talk about other people when you are caught lying? To err is human??


Who really feel the heat now? Caught lying. A lie is a lie. Praise anil for being honesty and clean in an earlier blog. Now sing different song. Try buying things in Petaling Street pasar Malam. They are good in carrot cake. Tunglang, of course you love kopi “or”especially the ” or” from SG pinang. You love to throw chilli at every one with different ideas. Totally bankrupt parroting and throwing chilli at a mercs bought jurussic years ago at a discount price when BN can bought at a higher price under osa when you are driving a 4wd with… Read more »


I hear a … talking when caught in the heat of the moment!
Just imagine its facial expression.


Sorry to divert Anil..I am wondering why you are keeping away the topic de jour in Penang today, ie, the BungalowGate and Taman Manggis Scandals?

Any way why are some members of Aliran being unofficial PR and defenders of LGE’s government ? Instead of siding with the people, this Aliran member has been attacking BN for bringing up the issue.


Better to remind readers to be careful and alert when sipping coffee at coffee shop in Penang.


Anil’s blog is not a place for gossips please go msm !!! Tq


Calvinsankaran can report to Sec General Gerakan Liang Teck Meng (MP Simpang Renggam) for bangalow manggis matter, and can be his PR manager on anilnetto.com with tunglang as Gerakan now aims to retake Penang with Losing slated as potential MP?


Your shallow assumption is not going to sell.
You seem to ooze lots of … without any benefit to readers here except the likes of yourself perennially ego-worshipping Deity polluting the clean George Town air with thy joss sticks facing Komtar Tower.
Grow up to comment intelligently!


Siding with Penangites is taboo topic to some trollers here. Shrieks against freedom of expression derided as gossips are the hallmark of worshippers gone too kow bin. If one can reason, why justify buying only one Merc S300Lansi @ a generous discount? Why not get more than one for Chow Chow (he definitely needs a ‘public verbal shots’ proofed Merc to defend Komtar Tower at all costs on controversial issues of public interests), his deputies & maybe one for the Mayor. All I can reason is tis’ a case of self-aggrandisement of the ego above team. If one can reason,… Read more »


We do not need the lies from Dahlan here.


The Penang government had the right to sell Taman Manggis land to anyone.
Gerakan and MCA please go and check on your RM2.6 billion PM instead.


You vote to sell Penang to the highest bidder?…


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is prepared to debate with BN strategic communications director Abdul Rahman Dahlan over the Taman Manggis land issue. Stressing that he has no qualms with a public debate, he also hopes that it would be televised live.

Live telecast on RTM, as it celebrates 70 years in existence?



Calvinsankaran please go to Utusan.com to engage in syiok sendiri talk with umnoputera and kimmaputera.


try taking hk and melb tram. one foes not know whrn he will arrives st his destination. tramd will be blocked by other veh, pedestrians as the road is shared. if accident occurs there will be further delayed.

Cheong Kian Kok

Street level cost cheaper but Penang no more land.

james k

Agreed- but only for island.
Especially the northeast area, it would hard-pressed to find enough street level space to accommodate at-grade rail systems.

On the mainland however, proper planning could include enough land for future use. Or just replace the BRT and monorail on mainland with this.


BRT has proven far superior – in S America, Seoul (where MRT ran out of capacity), etc. But once you are in power, you select the most expensive option. Like the undersea tunnel.


The comparison to Melbourne tram system is moronic. Its the largest in the world with over a hundred year history. No one would build a tram system to completely replace car because it would be chaos. You can only build to RELIEVE the car pressure, meaning separate right of ways from existing car lanes have to build which means LRT because Penang roads are too narrow.


Many older roads in Penang have been turned into one-way streets:
Penang Road, Burmah Road, Transfer Road, Macalister Road, Rangoon Road, Magazine Road, Beach Street, Larut Road, Kelawei Road, part of Gurney Drive, Pangkor Road, Peel Avenue, Larut Road.
Accommodating a LRT system is possible along some of these wider one-way streets.
It is not as if Penang has not implemented a tram system before yesterday.
Come to Penang to assess the situation.


penang’s roads are extremely crowded, and a street level railway would only aggravate the situation. if it is financially feasible, why not go underground in the city centre? singapore built their mrt in the 1970s, and today, it is already overcrowded. thus, penang shouldn’t be building a small scale light transit as highlighted here


Yes, need to consider population growth.
Land is precious – build elevated stations so that the ground level cold be used for other purposes.


if penang is wonderful. there will be people migrating to here. former penang lang and kia will come back and singland depopulated

gk ong

True, penang kia in Singland will return home for retirement as the cost of living in Singland is simply too high.


if it is financially feasible, why not go underground at certain areas?


Anil, Light Rail System is dangerous to stray cats. These short-sighted animals won’t obey traffic signal, but simply dash across the streets at the crucial close-proximity moment. So, Komtar Cats are vulnerable & phobic to Light Rail. They much prefer the elevated transport system so they can roam the urban landscape like jay walkers. Back to financial acumen of Komtar Tower. If it is so accountant cost conscious as per the Merc S300lansi purchase at a discount, why can’t it proposes a predominant system in the much cheaper LRT & tram system, both of which cost much less & environment… Read more »


cats have 9 lives and can survive from great heights


Tunglang, your harping of merc s300 lansi will indeed make you a lan sai lang, am telling you the truth, it reflects badly on you – a small hearted and a silly person, and the hokkien called it a lansai lang.


Channel frustrations to more positive outbursts e.g. paintings or sketches that can draw extra income. Otherwise, most people will regard you as sore loser not able to adapt and cope with reality of life.


That’s your sole problem. Troll!
Go drink Sg Pinang Black Tea.



Currently he is drinking black “Or” and worshipping the diety as he loves to quote him constantly in every anil’s blog even it is out of the subject. He is licensed to do it. Unlike under BN, even in Parliament, the Mata 2 can go in and arrest the Mp. He has too much “Or” and can’t see a non BN system but loves to talk about his diety’s character which we talk about the non BN system


Then you are too kow lang loh!
“Too” don’t use brains but keep on worshipping Deity regardless.
Anyway, that’s your problem not of my concern.
Don’t waste my time with a too kow lang.


He is your cm and your instinct to quote him incessantly w/o thinking. Who is the real mo lei tau? Kopi “or” not enough and include SG pinang “or”


Street level trains in Malaysia will have to compete with the kapcais. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Also, with DAP plans to make more ‘Mont Kiara’ style high density the cute little trams like Melbourne’s may not be able to handle so many commuters.


A ground level system can still be segregated from traffic. If you look at the alignment, the majority of it is in the road reserves or running alongside the road. If you have to acquire the land to build an elevated track, why not put the track on the ground. Where it’s necessary it can be elevated.


I fully agree with your point, hope that the operator company can acquire the rolling stock from reputable company such as Alstom or Bombardier and not trying to built their own rolling stock which can be time consuming and waste of resources ($$).


for a rail linking to the airport it must be elevated so that the trains will not br delayed by traffic or traffic have to stop a few minutes earlier and later to allow the trains to pass. every airport traveller knows the time to get to city/ airport. melbourne trams are often block by right turning cars. taipei once used to have level crossing and they have all disappeared. malaysian cars may disobeyed and dashed through the road crossing which is dependant on signalling street level rail requires land acquistion and demolish grey historical bldgs. will penang go forum… Read more »


Deploy more buses on main roads, with feeder mini buses or tuk tuk type vehicles to ferry those in inner lands to connect to main roads. Increase frequencies and timeliness and I am sure more can rely on efficient system. This should be cost economical. If use electric vehicles, then also friendlier to the environment.


ask federal gomen for more buses. where is the real time telling the arrival of buses? our buses are still third world std. even a 5th tier town like lijiang in yunnan has elect pub buses.
in kunming the main arterial road has 2 busways in the middle, 3 lanes +1 motor cycle car lane + pedestrian on both sides making a total 12 lanes roadway.
malaya was once has best road but now it can be rated as third world std.
china where once our parents have to send money home, they have best railway with cheap fares.


So, your concern skewed for mainland. Very obvious indeed.
Leave Penang island for more cars & more Merc of the rich & famous?
It is not going to solve traffic & public transportation problems for Penang as a whole state, not a demarcation of discrimination for rich folks in island & poor folks in mainland.
What a thick face when it comes to election time courting of people’s votes.
“Wo men yi jia ren” (but only on election day!) My foot!

ong eu soon

Penang will lost the heritage status if elevated railway is built.
Penang will be bankrupt if the project is modified. The developers might sue the state government for compensation in the tune of billions.


To retain the heritage status, the heritage zone should be made car-free?


The heavy traffic with cars emitting greenhouse gases is a disgrace to the heritage zone.


Federal Gomen rtd should allow elect cars. China has elect bikes and buses operating for years in the cities to cut down smoke emission


I thought so too. It’s going to further mess up the already congested Komtar-Prangin/Magazine Road area. As it is right now, the jam is so bad. Traffic needs to be diverted away from from City centre.


once the light rail has been built, will penang kias still use cars or kapcais to go to komtar with the loop bus service?
even singland is still building mrt. so tg bungah and ferringi has to wait since they have cars the freedom to go anywhere they like. others who are poor what choice? any choice?
melbourne and sydney only poor takes public transport. rich has cars and freedom to go where they want. they only take public transport to work in cbd due to heavy parking fees and limited spaces.


True, the poor, the not-so-poor working class will use Lrt; still they need some kind of transport going Komtar way to further jam up the City centre. Just a suggestion, why not look slightly away from Komtar, perhaps towards far end of Jalan Bricklin vicinity which is not so developed and easily linked to various parts of George Town.

Anyway, just a word of caution, my late grandma used to mention that a larger stretch of Macalister-Penang Road used to be a rushing river once. Perhaps the authorities concerned is aware of it.