The Penang state government has awarded a RM3.2m tender for a Penang Transport Master Plan study to a planning and urban design firm based in Petaling Jaya.
AJC Planning Consultants Sdn Bhd will work with Halcrow Consultants Sdn Bhd and the Singapore Cruise Centre, according to a press report.
AJC is led by planner Ahmad Jefri Clyde and architect-urban designer Mok Chee Pan. (Interestingly enough, Clyde happens to be the technical adviser to PJ residents associations protesting at the massive PJ Sentral project in Section 52.)
AJC is presently involved in various local projects such as the Kota Kemuning Township, Shah Alam; Ampar Tenang, Selangor; Technology Park, Kuala Lumpur; @enstek, Negeri Sembilan; Ampangan, Seremban, (Bandar Warisan Putri); and Nusajaya Central Planning Area, Johor. The Penang state blueprint could well be its biggest local study in terms of area covered.
It is interesting to see the involvement of Singapore Cruise Centre, which manages and operates three ferry terminals and a cruise terminal in Singapore. It is important that the Penang ferries be included as part of a seamless, integrated public transport ticketing system that can also be used on Rapid Penang buses and perhaps later, trams for the city. The full potential of the ferry system also needs to be tapped.
Halcrow of course is a major international transport planning consultancy with an office in KL. It was involved in the master planning of KLIA and the Putra LRT system.
AJC was selected from six tender bids to carry out a 11-month study on Penang’s congestion and to come up with a state-wide blue-print for the future. Two public consultations would also be held during the study period. The study is expected to be completed by March 2012.
Of the RM3.2m award, RM1.5m will be contributed by the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), which is believed to have wanted a component on the use of the waterways around Penang.
The award of the tender was initially planned for March-April 2010 and the master plan expected to be completed this year, as reported in The Star in March 2010. I am wonder why this study was not commissioned much earlier – like soon after March 2008, for instance – as overcoming congestion is a priority for Penang. Still, better late than never.
I hope the plan will place be driven by a sustainable public transport driven agenda (not necessarily big tickets infrastructure projects), which puts the emphasis on buses, ferries, LRT and/or trams, and cycling and pedestrians networks (which should be linked with public transport) – rather than private cars. Penang is already congested as it is.
Hopefully, the planners will also take into consideration other earlier studies in Penang and find out why those never took off.
It would also be better for the proposed two stretches of tunnels and elevated highways on Penang Island estimated at RM4bn to be put on hold. (One thing that puzzles me is how the state government plans to finance this as the amount involved is several times bigger than the state government’s annual budget.) These should be independently assessed to find out if there are other more sustainable and cost-efficient public transport alternatives.