Now, water taxis – but no transport masterplan?


It appears that the federal government is going ahead with a RM50 million plan to introduce water taxis and build more jetties in Penang Island and on the mainland.

Najib approved the conceptual plan in July. A month earlier, this blog had suggested that the Penang Port look into emulating Bangkok’s river buses along the Chao Phraya River.

But the devil is in the details. Now they are talking about allowing private firms to run the water taxi service. In the first phase, they want to target foreign tourists. The public would be targeted only in phase three. This is so unlike the low-cost river buses in Bangkok, where the passengers are mainly locals and the fares are low (apart from the separate cruise boats catering for the tourists). Public transport works best when the fares are affordable (even if it means government subsidies for an essential service) – but you can’t have affordable fares if you have private firms hoping to make huge profits.

Meanwhile, all the various parties appear to be doing their own thing. You have the bridge firms (federal) working on the second bridge, Penang Port working on the ferries and water taxis, Rapid Penang (federal) upgrading the bus service, the Penang state government reportedly looking into monorail, a proposal to revive the Penang Outer Ring Road on the cards, the aerorail proposal, and the new Penang Transport Council probably not being consulted on some of these projects. What a jolly rojak!

Where is the coordination, integration and masterplan? What about cost-effective options such as bus rapid transit and trams?

How are we going to have an integrated public transport system without first coming up with a sustainable statewide masterplan first? Shouldn’t we be working on the masterplan first instead of taking a piecemeal approach? Haven’t we learn anything from the lack of coordination and integration in KL especially in the planning of the different LRT routes?

The problem is that the feds want to get involved in Penang’s public transport. Would they collaborate with the state government or do their own thing? If they do their own thing, how is Penang supposed to come up with a public transport masterplan?

Business Times reports on the water taxis:

This service will be scheduled with multiple stops, operating in a similar manner to a bus, or on demand to many locations, just like a land taxi.

Which routes will the proposed service ply? The answer will depend on the final results of its feasibility study, said Tan.

In July, Penang Port Commission chairman Tan Cheng Liang was reported as saying that 10 proposed coastal points have been identified for the service: Butterworth, Bagan Ajam, Pulau Aman and Nibong Tebal on the mainland; and Weld Quay, Tanjung Bungah, Teluk Bahang, Tanjung Tokong, Pantai Jerejak and Batu Maung on the island.

“The location of the stops has not been decided yet. But we will probably select two to three stops with heavy traffic to begin with to as many as 15 stops once the project is completed.

“We will start with the routes that have the highest probability of success,” said Tan.

The pricing mechanism for the proposed water-based transportation project will also depend on the results of its feasibility study.

Meanwhile, NCIA is willing to work with interested entrepreneurs or private boat operators to launch the project.

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In the first sentence of this article, the word “Penang” should be corrected to “Penang island”. Lets not “abuse” the term Penang to mean only the island. The six-letter-word “P-e-n-a-n-g” should mean the state of Penang, at all times. Please add island or mainland if we want to refer to that parts of the state specifically. Anyway 98% of the time you do write correctly. Thanks

Gerakan K

LGE competency is just opposing the government of the day. Now LGE is in state government and he has nothing to do but keep opposing federal government. For example, erecting anti-ISA billboard. Such a childish move will make many people wonder whether LGE is born opposition and not government material!

Ong Eu Soon

If LGE really has brain, he should draft his own transport plan for Penang. Whether he has the opportunity to implement it is immaterial, most important it would spell out the position of his administration on public transport. By doing so, he can trigger a competition between BN and Pakatan on how to provide the best solution for Penang. Why LGE is reluctant to do so? Probably because his administration is seriously suffering from brain deficiency.


Haha…….as usual nothing will happen if everyone needs to be pleased/convinced before our gomen can do anything.

tan, tanjong bungah

Hi everyone, Let’s put the statistics right in KBP case. From what I read in the mass media only 9 families out of 24 families directly involved did not accept the 2-storey house deal negotiated between the developers and State govt., with I believe some consultation either by the developers and/or State govt. with the landowners’ representatives. So, how can K imply through his “… statement about the 14 “delighted” families came from a well known crony of the Development Above People’s government.”, and hence, these ‘delighted’ families may actually be very unhappy and unwilling to accept the settlement? Has… Read more »



surely let some UMNO freaks run it. Superb efficient, aint it?

well RM26 billion overpayments and freaking BN just nonchalantly gloat over it.

Nothing LGE does it right. Welcome back spineless KTK. At least, he is buddy now with those that stamped on his photo.


Ah! Yang. Together with the tut tut, we also need the daredevil drivers. And at the same time, throw away the rule book for them. Then the tut tut can cut throw any traffic jam. Yes, this will cause traffic difficulty for cars. But the public transportation will work wonders.

We cannot please everybody.


Why dont they bring in the tut tut from Thailand. Cheap convenient versatile public transport. It is low cost, too. Penang do not need anything sophisticated.


LBJ Bringing in the tut tut won`t solve the traffic problem as what has been done with mini buses. Street in Penang are narrow and even if you build more road and highways it will only solve part of the problems. Water taxi will also not solve the problem as it transport people from one point to a certain point without relieving the vehicle traffic conditions on the land. Furthermore with zero or very low down payment everybody seem to want to own a new car irrespective of whether they will be able to service the loan. The only solution… Read more »


I agree with aca, Anil, i feel that you should come out with a note about the 15 grateful families when Kg Buah Pala issue is concerned. Because i really didnt see any true JUSTICE here if it is one sided especially not all the residents are against shifting… and also the one who sold the land was Gerakan government under Dr Koh, (no noise no sound then), and not Pakatan government. And also, LGE, indeed did get his hands dirty in negotiating with the developer. I didnt see Dr Koh (Gerakan) in his 18 years rule of Penang ever… Read more »


Kee Like many DAP Cybertrooper, you exhibit the classic habit of selective reading and an amnesia of key facts. Perhaps you didn’t read my previous comments. The statement about the 14 “delighted” families came from a well known crony of the Development Above People’s government. There is nothing concrete about these promises nor the omens are promising.This is because the Koperasi is unhappy with the offer of houses to these families and intend not to honour it since neither they were never consulted nor their approval was sought. As the Cheap Minister’s govt had broken their promises several already on… Read more »


Kee, Anil can do nothing about the KBP issue as he is not part of the government negotiation team. The blog here is to create awareness for the people to see and understand the situation. The KBP case has already been solved. It is only some disgruntled greedy 9 families that were instigated by people such as the MIC, K or KTK of false promises that will never come and for their own political mileage. The KBP residents have been given the opportunities of owning a double story terrace house worth 500,000. Since some chose not to accept and the… Read more »

tan, tanjong bungah

Hi everyone,

I doubt the viability of this Federal water taxis project,costing RM50 millions and when finally implemented most probably would cost much more. Whether for tourists or mass transportation, it looks like going to be another white elephant project, the numbers using it are simply not there!

As for K’s comment,do get your facts right – I’d rather think that some Federal crony is going to run this project! When the State govt is not even consulted on many projects, transportation plans included, do you seriously think the Federal authorities are going to allow other people to run it?


Dear Tan…I can’t “get my facts right” for something that yet to happen. Let’s wait and see who going to get to run the water taxi service. But I do hope it won’t be the Cheap Minister’s govt as they will surely mess it up.


The water taxi concept is nothing new. It was in the mid 80’s when it became part of the Penang Transportation Master Plan. However KTK/BN and MPPP had no idea how to implement it, neither did they have the capability. (I was in many Govt meetings during the discussion in the 1980’s)
So LGE is just implementing what BN & KTK did not have the intelligence to plan and roll-out.

Steven Yang

Yes it look like a federal project but LGE has taken that initiative to persuade the Federal government under very trying endurance to push the project through.



If you intend to be an apologist and a cybertrooper for LGE, at least pls do some homework before posting your comments.

FYI, LGE is not keen on this water taxi plan at all and he was quoted to have said that these taxis are small and uncomfortable. If you don’t believe me, you are welcomed to go ahead and google yourself to verify this.

Paul Wong

Why do both LGE bashers have “K” in their tags? Just wondering…..


Paul Wong,
Because both are one and the same person.
Look at the way they write……

Steven Yang

Water taxi won`t solve the traffic problem in Penang. The 50 millions will only increase the pockets of 1UMNO under that idiotic 1Malaysia. The majorities … (may) go to UMNO while the crumbs to MCA… MIC… Gerakan… and the rest to others. What a pity that component parties … are willing to sell their soul…. Yes 1Malaysia


Anil I think this water-taxi is more of a tourist attraction rather than a mass transportation system like the trishaw. I disagree those who think this is a waste of public funds since I think this will add a badly needed attraction to the fading and dying tourist industry of Penang. Many Penangites don’t realise that people from other states love simple attractions such as the Ferry and this water-taxi would certainly prove to be an unique addition to Penang. While it’s commercial viability is questionable, I do hope that this venture will be managed by competent outfit (like PPSB)… Read more »

Gerakan K

After all (faked) praises for LGE, it is finally the 1Malaysia PM Najib has the workable transport solution for Penang. Why not imitate the transport system in Japan?


Pray tell what workable transport solution that Najib has that most of Penangites also don’t know about?


i doubt this initiative, even at its best, would have a significant impact on public transport so dont feel it should be mentioned in the same breath as 2nd bridge, monorail, PORR, aerorail, PTC, BRT or trams. it doesnt have enough connectivity potential to be considered public transport n is a gimmick at best. i wouldn’t give it much credence if it were a private venture, but unfortunately, tax-payers money will be involved so……….. another example of government st*****ty. noticed that OTK said in monday/sunday’s papers that Penang Port has no feasible future coz of water levels? not sure how… Read more »


further comment on government s**p*d**y — reason to demand more quality from our government n vote more wisely next time. we need more brains in the government. any volunteers out there???


Penang is not Bangkok with highly concentrated and huge population in a metropolitan.

I foresee this water taxi is just another screw-up project, we taxpayers have to bailout it at the end.

> Where the water taxi passengers park their cars?

> Are there enough shutter buses to transport passengers to/from jetties?

> Where are the taxi water routes? Any study on the passenger volume is conducted?

More questions need to be answered before this project can go ahead.


anil, pls remember the plot of BN which is strangle Guan Eng and Co. in whatever means possible. How do you expect Guan Eng to have a masterplan when everywhere he turns to, BN will try to undermine him. If he has to go alone, he has to under the circumstances. it may not be the best of choices, but at least he tries. as an aside, so many crucify him on the contorversial Indian settlement proposal. Now the 14 families are happy with the double storey houses. I didnt hear a favoured comment from you on this or did… Read more »


Dear aca, Please wake up from your delusion. LGE is the Cheap Minister of Penang and not an office boy. If he feels he doesnt not have the authority and ability to come up with a master plan, then I urge him to tender his resignation and allow Dr Mansor to take over. As for KBP, not all Penangites are guiliable and foolish to buy the propaganda of the Cheap Minister. Do you know that (the state government is backing a rival) Resident Association that is lead by cronies ? And the news that the residents were delighted with the… Read more »


A cheap minister is better than someone like the … PM who stoop so low as to chose …. a disbarred lawyer who misappropriate 161,000, 2 ADUN in Perak on corruptible charges or the (former) Malacca CM and Bagan Pinang assembly man found guilty of money politics. If PM cannot have decent people in his cabinet, he should resign and let someone take over. Yes in KBP, Penangite will not be so guiliable and foolish to be held to ransom by some greedy few. The 9 who think they are smart enough can still go to UMNO, MIC or KTK… Read more »


LGE did have a plan and it was thwarted by the dirty tactics of BN. Under such trying conditions, the traffic condition under LGE government has improve compared to Gerakan KTK 18 years which has gone from bad to worse . KBP issue has been solved and those disgruntled can go to MIC, Makthak or K and what they can get. Let us wish them luck and hope they don`t start crawling to Ramasamy or LGE for sympathy for they deserve none.

Ong Eu Soon

If LGE has a plan, publish it and make BN look like a fool. Why not?