It was only earlier this month that the transport minister had said that the proposed elevated LRT might not be the best option for Penang.
“… our (Spad) studies showed that LRT is not the best option for Penang. Maybe the tram or other modes of transportation,” he said on 6 September. “I have asked the top management of Spad to brief the Chief Minister. A meeting will take place soon.”
But at that meeting, the Penang state government was adamant that it wanted to go ahead with the RM8.5bn elevated LRT system – and the Ministry of Transport then “approved” the plan.
How did the Minister of Transport capitulate so easily? Does he now realise that the main thrust of the SRS contractor-developers’ proposal is massive land reclamation for property development in southern Penang – and expensive transport infrastructure projects are needed to justify that 4,500-acre land reclamation?
The ministry’s embarrassing apparent turnaround has come at a time when more and more cities are moving towards street-level trams (the latest being Sydney). Meanwhile, an automated rail-rapid transit (ART) system on virtual tracks has been tested in China. This will cost a fraction of an elevated LRT system and take much less time to construct. And, unlike an elevated LET system, it won’t be an eyesore.
As Spad’s own studies have showed, an LRT line is not the best option for Penang. From what I hear, Spad is more in favour of bus rapid transit and trams (which the Hacrow consultants proposed would be largely elevated or segregated except in the heritage zone).
Now check out these trackless trams or ART as they are known in China.
So why do we want to blow so much money on an elevated LRT line?
The transport minister should explain:
- why his ministry has now ‘approved”” elevated LRT for Penang.
- how SRS Consortium can justify its projected 42 million annual ridership figure.
- who will pay for elevated LRT operational losses that are likely to be incurred in the future.
- why he is willing to ignore Spad’s own studies and Halcrow’s recommendation for bus rapid transit and trams.
- if he has considered modern trams and trackless or virtual track trams.
- why the ‘approval’ was announced by the state government rather than the Ministry of Transport.
- if he is aware that elevated LRT pillars would eat up a lane of road space.
Review the exorbitant RM46bn SRS proposal!