Penang government’s own consultants said trams cheaper than elevated LRT


Penang Forum has released a statement responding to the chief minister’s comments saying that trams are more expensive:

Penang Forum (PF) feels duty-bound to reply to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s direct accusation that we are being emotional and that our statements on the Penang Transport Master Plan are not based on facts.

He claimed that our research was only based on two or three days of Google searches as opposed to that of experts with 10 years’ experience.

On the contrary, we carried out about four months of research (not two days). This included interviews with representatives of two of the world’s largest tram manufacturers, top officials at SPAD, and senior traffic consultants for our study. This is not to mention the 42 years of experience of the Halcrow consultant prepared the RM3.2m Penang Transport Master Plan.

Let’s just focus on one issue, since the chief minister raised it – that of the cost of trams. He said, “Everyone tells us trams are more expensive”.

But the state government’s own consultants have shown that trams are indeed cheaper than LRT to construct (although subsequently SRS escalated the construction cost for trams by over five times while leaving that of LRT the same).

We reproduce below an abridged version of the table provided by SRS:




Carry Capacity (PPHPD)




Construction Costs/km




The state government’s own transport masterplan consultant Halcrow also stated that the estimated cost of construction per kilometre for trams is RM40m at grade, and RM80m if elevated (see top).

Furthermore, our interviews with the two tram manufacturers showed that the average construction costs per kilometre for trams ranges from 17m euros to 25m euros.

It is of great worry to Penangites that if the chief minister has been so erroneously advised on such a basic issue, what of the more complex ones?

Not only the construction costs, but more importantly, the yearly operating and maintenance costs of trams are two to three times cheaper than LRT according to experts we interviewed.

It is these O&M costs that Penang Forum has highlighted that SRS has avoided responding to. It is these costs and the actual ridership that will make or break the financial feasibility of the SRS proposals. These questions have not been satisfactorily answered by SRS, and YB Chow in his A-Z answers.

May we suggest that a series of public forums be held where SRS, state officials and Penang Forum can make their presentations to the public for their consideration. We propose that international tram manufacturers (e.g. CAF, Alstom, CRRC) and transport consultants be invited to take part in this forum.

Penang Forum steering committee
9 August 2016

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David Loman

On the subject of transportation, what is your opinion on the KL- Spore HSR project?

Malaysians likely to get raw deal in high-speed rail project


1) There’s a qualifying statement in the report “Cost estimates are exclusive of land acquisition and have been prepared for the sole purpose of gaining high level of understanding…” “They are also based on the use of broad-brush unit rates… these unit rates have been derived from examining similar schemes both in Malaysia and elsewhere…” “The unit cost used to produce these cost estimates should, therefore, not be relied on…” 2) The figures are quoted without taking into account land acquisition cost , relocation of underground cables and utility pipes 3) In fact, the 17(18)m euros to 25m euros (converted… Read more »


The same reason why so many cities in the world building LRT & Monorail but not trams.

Because they are options one can make depending on the need of the city.

Note: Monorail was estimated at RM170m/km presumably to include all other costs.

David Loman

I saw this interesting comment about Tram, on Malaysiakini: Trams are cheaper to buy and run. However, they use existing roads which makes them no different from buses when everyone fights for road space and still jams up during traffic congestion. Why even go for trams when buses with dedicated bus lanes may do the same job? But think carefully… can they ??? Effectively, the cost to consumers is higher if few people change from driving to taking a bus or a tram. That’s why tram in total will be more expensive. Trams are as unreliable as buses. They are… Read more »


Maybe we can learn something from this – Lee Kuan Yew and the Physical Transformation of Singapore- Session 1: The Planning of a City State –


Controversial tree removal works hit snag, causing massive gridlock in Penang GEORGE TOWN, Aug 12 — The controversial relocation of old trees along the busy main road of Jalan Masjid Negeri here ran into a problem this morning, causing a massive gridlock during the rush hour commute. State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow, who apologised for the massive traffic jam that lasted several hours, explained that the tree removal works started last night. “We had to stop the work when we found TNB cables stuck on the roots and the TNB team has just arrived to rectify the situation,”… Read more »

poh suan

Being at wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps get up on the wrong side of bed.


What a stupid statement! You don’t have a water bed ah?

David Loman

The Star would not report this: The Penang Government is not adversarial towards NGOs – Chow The State Government takes the alternative views raised by the Penang Forum concerning the latter’s preference for trams into consideration and has done in depth study on the proposed use for LRTs in the Transport Master Plan. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who had a press conference on Aug 11 on the issue, was accompanied by state exco member for Local Government, Traffic Management Chow Kon Yeow and Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) Project Delivery Partner (PDP) SRS Consortium project manager Szeto Wai Loong.… Read more »


pg forum. cherry picking? please defend or admit the oversight and bias??

David Loman

A more balanced reporting on this subject on China Press:檳州交通大藍圖%E2%80%A7曹觀友:忽略未涵相關費用內容/

Too bad those who cannot understand Mandarin have to rely on the one-sided reporting on The Star.

gk ong

100% agree.

Johan Khun Pana

May not be the cost (cheaper or expensive). Maybe due to narrow roads , or Malaysian motorist culture of double parking and triple parking especially next to places of worship /banks / hawker stalls , constant road digging , the “Mat Rempit” , our Malaysian drug addicts who love to steal metal and flash flooding. Trams and it’s system are definitely way cheaper and easier to maintain. Maybe having an elevated system/rail might be a safer option for all . However for new planned roads , make it a tram system. However nobody will ever know since that 20 volumes… Read more »


anil we do not live in kg. what is pg forum tries to deceive us? where is the data for lrt. the consultant put up values for tram. brt and respective stns. where are the figures goe lrt? why not brt? they are the cheapest ad shown in the consultant figures. just because some one lives tram? pity pg lang cannot readfigures. why not the consultant put up advantages and disadvantages? why there are more lrt or mrt in asian countries than trams?


I also see the capacities. lrt and monorail has more capcity. This means lrt or monorail passengers need not to wait too and not because lrt is elephants in size but cheetah in speed. If pg lang wants to pay peanuts then they deserves to get monkeys. If you want to take tram then tram has a limit to the number it can carry per hour. If pg lang wants free or cheap lunch, then you expect to wait. If the first tram is delayed then second and third tram will catch up with the first tram which is packed… Read more »


anil, then you as in ptc has the right to ask ajc why their is 80m/km and src is 220m/km for the same elevated structure. tax payers have the right to know since both work out the structural work cost/km.


please explain why they are not the same. is it pg forum die hard to the pricing that tram is cheaper? both system runs on rail. if there are rails on pg bridge both systems can run on pg bridge but not monorail. even kids can see railway bridges are similar to road bridge except one has full deck and the other voided deck as full deck is not required. the price is 3 times different and structural sizes up to 3 times bigger?

Liang Wooi Guan

Thats good to publish the report so that we can see clearly the pros n cons


not 20 vol of pros and cons. how about a dwg showing typical section of the proposed elevated structure?


You should quit your advisory role since you are not accorded the respect.


Anil, Cheers Kopi-O kau kau to you.
You don’t drive a Merc S300Lansi, so you don’t crave for respect (format) nor undivided political attention (of mindless worshipping).
This I trust you are impartial in most things.
Cool, man!


with due respect member of a committee has to follow procedures. one must follow tony pua. he is telling things not inside the confidential mbd report unless it is official made public.


Since you are appointed to PTC and brought the subject up, the public brought up questions which pg forum favours tram and tram is using 80m/km but SRC is 220m/km. One may mis-calculate the figure. Since you insist SRC is top secret, as serving the public, as PTC you can check ajc consultant’s figure and any difference with any elevated structure. Otherwise, we hope we are not getting another Paul low


Anil. Serve without fear or favour.
Bash the CAT, if need be for the good of Penang.
What is a Tokong or Niao Kong without the people’s power.
Don’t tell us we should follow some donkey rules of apologetic (to Tokong) ethics.
If one wants to lead Penang, pls don’t rule with a fury!
There is no such thing as a CAT’s-9-Life Rule of Penang.


we will bash pf if they look stupid and unable to support or give replies. many here say the same critics and unable to support pf for questions raised. they are not interested in facts and truth but ego.

David Loman

Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming, in making unflattering comparisons with Singapore, charged that on a dollar for dollar basis, a ride in Malaysia costs three times more compared with that in Singapore. The MP attributed the reason to five factors: 1) Prasarana, wholly owned by the Finance Ministry, was unprofitable and has accumulated massive losses over time; 2) it has very high financing costs because of its high debts; 3) it has relatively low non-fare revenue; 4) SPAD has done a very poor job of fare regulation in Malaysia; and 5) The Malaysian Government does not want to directly fund… Read more »


Good points but Penang Forum could not leverage on such findings for improvement, but choose to believe in Halcrow half-baked proposal.

ronnie yeoh

Yeah, tell ’em like it is. We voted them into office to manage and run Penang State. But it is our duty to keep them in check constantly, in everything they do. That means check on the state’s money management, and never take their word for it. They made promises during elections and they do have noble intentions for getting elected. But big business can seduce them with money. Even family members can influence them. No one is immune if the price is right, or ensuring they don’t get caught, no matter how pious and religious they are. Ask any… Read more »


acj shows brt is the cheapest but pg forum tell us to implement tram.


brt is cheaper but why halcrow recommend tram which is few times dearer? like src cost more more fees?


it is cheaper to use brt. even brisbane is using brt. if the density increases use double decker buses like sydney and hong kong. they can carry up to 115 passengers per load and frequency at 6 minutes interval. they are more flexible and cheaper to operate. even if one misses the bus. he has to wait for another 6 mins.
pg forum is favouring an expensive solution using trams instead of buses


A few years ago, MP Tony Pua was outspoken on the Klang Valley MRT. He mentioned (a) BRT (b) far cheaper MRT construction elsewhere. Now, he has gone silent.


one is fully malai gomen paid by all rakyat in whole malaysia and other is state but funded by private. wholly pg enterprise.


As an mp in selangor, how can he be kei poh chee on Penang transport funded by Penang lang and Penang $$$. The transport is not using part of amno gomen money. if he says something, he speaks as an mp or individual private? Everyone has the right to comment on kV mrt because the money is from all over Malaysia taxpayers.


Who are the contractors of Penang Forum?

gk ong

What about the contractors that have provided quotations for Halcrow?

Helvin Henry

Tokong will say …its all a conspiracy by the federal government…
They are out to finish me..haha

Shafiq Ishmael

You dont need a consultant even layman on the street know that tram is cheaper , that the reason in EUROPE this mode of transport very popular,

Ahmad Syafiq Mohd Amin

So is Australia haha.


in ASIA lrt or mrt is more popular than trams. ask europeans to eat durian or sambals??

Jude Manickam

A case of conflicting interests??

Julian Candiah

‘read Google 2-3 days become experts’ ha ha ha

Oo Thiam Peng

So what does CM Lim have to say now??


SRS and Penang Forum debate should be held now once and for all.
Can be held at Sunshine Square auditorium at Bayan Baru?


how about those favour brt? they are the cheapest and flexible


Han Chiang Padang is much bigger space for public attrition of concerned interests by the power that be.
Also a place to reminisce all the saliva-wetting promises of 308 such as Greener & Cleaner Penang.
People will have ample space to judge all the promises.


welcome umno and return of gangnam style to do horse dance and how much cheap land was given away. now no kang tao and only kangkong left. now we have a doggy waiting at the table


poor doggy howling and barking no food but plenty of tom cat, felix the cat, hello kity and sylester the cat. really need the rspca otherwise mppp will round up sll stray mad dogs.


Angry with Anilnetto! Sia Boey Lock Down is but an excuse to exercise ‘its’ egoistic fury!
Ask a RSPCA officer how he deals with a wayward angry alleycat.