The consultants for the Penang transport master plan have responded to an earlier post on this blog.
Halcrow consultant David Turner writes:
Dear Anil Netto,
I have read your article with interest.
I would like to clarify a number of issues raised therein.
The exhibition on the Overarching Transport Master Plan sets out a Core Strategy for implementation before 2020 and two possible ways forward after that date.
We (the Consultants) are recommending that the Core Strategy be adopted and are consulting the public on the two alternative longer term ways forward.
The Core Strategy is targeted primarily at making the existing transport systems within Penang work properly
The two longer term alternatives are based either around
– Building only new roads
– Taking a more Balanced approach, whereby some roads are built, but the main emphasis is targeted towards improving public transport and persuading Penangites to use it through initially increasing parking charges and ultimately imposing access charges (road user charges) on those that drive into George Town and Butterworth.
In terms of the strategy study objectives, the Balanced Approach is the preferred way forward. However, it has a number of features that might be unacceptable to the general public – these revolve around firstly the need to take away road space so as to achieve the necessary public transport improvements and secondly the need (in the longer term) to impose new road user charges on motorists who drive into George Town and Butterworth.
Both of these issues are, in our opinion, likely to be just as controversial as that of building new roads
At this point in time, we have therefore made no definitive recommendations in terms of the appropriate longer term way forward. Instead, we are seeking public opinion on these issues.
After the public consultation it is likely that we will be making a definitive recommendation, taking into account both the technical work we have already completed and the response we get from the public.
In my view, setting out the pros and cons of each option and seeking public comments at this time is the right way forward – It is a much better way forward than us, as outsiders to Penang, simply imposing our solutions on the residents of the State and offering no choice.
Ultimately, it is our belief that the validity of the finally selected Penang Transport Master Plan Strategy will be considerably strengthened as a result of going trough this process.
For any one who is interested in these issues, the exhibition material can be viewed at the Penang Transport Council website and details of the consultation process can also be obtained from this website.
My brief comment:
Dear David Turner
I just feel that the adverse medium- and long-term consequences of adopting the New-Roads-and-Highways Approach should be clearly spelled out to Penangites so that they can make an informed choice. This Highways Approach leads to greater dependence on fossil fuels, congestion and gridlock, and pollution. This unsustainable approach should not even be put on the table for consideration and its consequences must be clearly stated in no uncertain terms.
While there are cons in adopting a Public Transport Approach, the pain and sacrifice is mainly in the short-term, while the benefits are felt in the longer term. This approach leads to more sustainable transport in the future.