Penang: Opt for rail transport instead of RM8bn on roads


A Pakatan state assembly member has urged the Penang state government to opt for rail transit instead of blowing RM8bn on more road infrastructure.

Good on Sim Tze Tzin for adding his voice to the rail transport lobby. In fact, we did have rail lines from George Town to Air Itam once. I will put up the photo for you soon.

An airport to Komtar line and Komtar to Tanjung Tokong (with an extension to Tanjung Bunga) would also be timely.

Excerpt from a Sun report:

Penang cannot build more roads to solve traffic jams
Posted on 3 November 2011 – 05:31am

Himanshu Bhatt and Aaron Ngui
[email protected]

GEORGE TOWN (Nov 2, 2011): The state assembly was cautioned today that the state cannot just build its way out of traffic jams.

Sim Tze Tzin (PKR-Pantai Jerejak) urged the state government to consider investing in public transport as the remedial measure to the growing congestion caused mainly by private vehicles.

He suggested that the proposed Request for Proposal (RFP) for an undersea tunnel linking the island to the mainland, estimated to cost RM8 billion, be changed to a light rail transit (LRT) system instead.

He said at RM250 million per kilometre, which is what the tunnel may cost, some 32km of LRT tracks could be constructed on the island for the same amount of money.

“A line from Bayan Lepas to Komtar and then to Tanjung Tokong would be about 26km, while another line from Air Itam to Komtar would be about six kilometre. So two lines can be built with a cost of RM8 billion,” he said.

Sim extolled the advantages of an LRT system, saying that it was environmentally-friendly and possesses a high passenger capacity..

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Good analysis here on public transportation in Malaysia:

Ong Eu Soon

The Penang Citizen’s Alternative Transit Initiative is my best of the bestest strategy to defeat LGe. By giving LGe the greatest of the greastest solution and expect him to throw it into the dusbin is the ultimate way to kill the poitical career of LGe. I put my bet on LGe inability to understand or to accept my initiative. All Gerakan need to do is publicly announce the acceptance of my initiative prior to the next ge and openly laugh at LGe’s incompetency and lackof guts, bo hood. Tested five years die five years. Try another term die forever. If… Read more »


Ah Soon Khor – You sound like developing hypertension over LGE. So fast as he has be in office about 3 years. for win win situation, hope both of you last the pace.


Yes, those days where bus transports were reliable are gone and current bus transport in Penang are halfbaked affairs. Passengers are at the mercy of the ruthless bus drivers who prefer to stop/leave anywhere and anytime. I fully support rail transport. Less idling time in traffic jams, hardly any pollution and tourists would love it. By all means you have my support. I sincerely hope the Penang Govt will seriously consider this for the long term.

Ong Eu Soon

Friend, did you evertake Rapid Penang? Did you ever realise that most of the time commuters have no seat to sit? Rapid Penang does improve a lot on the bus services. Who say Penangites will not take bus as the main transit option. You guys are only talking on behalf of those who drive a car with extreme prejudice.


we should built the tunnel but with extra 2 lanes for train line,mainland is the future of penang prosperity,mainland should be the industrial heartbeat while the island should be for tourism & luxury lifestyle.

Ong Eu Soon

A BRT cost less than RM3million per km to build. For 250km, you can cover all the corridors in the state, which cost about RM650million. This include the integration of publicly shared cycling and pedestrian travel. Read about Penang citizen’s alternative transit initiative
with cost estimation at


Visited your blog, Ong. I understand your rationale on costing. But 5-10 years from now wouldn’t these new/upgraded roads be congested as well? There are new motor vehicles hitting the road every day/hour and we can’t keep on building roads, can we?
Your ideas and suggestions are good but we need to complement it with a larger mass transit public transport system.

Ong Eu Soon

Friend, when did i ever advocate road building? I only advocate mass transit using BRT complement by cycling and pedestrian travel. Only RM650million for BRT serving 250km length routes, not just 32km costing RM8billion. Image the impact of BRT covering 250km, how the built environment will be affected. Image the political impact if LGe has the gut to implement it. Just mere adoption of the ideas will bring what type of praises and supports for PR. Question here is does LGe has the political wisdom. If Anil the great who start a forum on pulic transportation has no intellectual knowledge… Read more »


Dear Ong,

I’m sorry but I can’t understand a word of your explanation above. I thought this was a discussion about transportation options. I’m not going to debate with you if this is about political ‘assassination’. Thank you.

Ong Eu Soon

who want o debate with you when you simply twist and turn to please your political idol. Mass transit you call it road. Who can talk to you, such a dumb.

king kong

Ah Soon Khor

On this, I concur with you. RM8 billion is not a small sum and not justified just to spend on transport. Which is first? Looking after the poor or do a MRT to those well do areas? Penang should start to plan with easement for MRT. Or to build new townships in mainland and have dual train lines link to the island. The poor will make full use rather than those well do.

Yang will happy if money are pour into housing first rather than MRTs.


Everyone has his priority. Let the people and govt decides which is best


Question is what is the best? PKR Sim says dumping RM8B on transport is the best. Ah Soon Khor disagrees.

So is spending RM 8B on transport value for money? What about operating cost and money to maintain it which has not been included.

We still have parts of the society still miss out the basic needs and the Hindraf and UMNo wants their needs. Also there are still segments of poor chinese.


Ah Soon Khor suggestion of BRT is another kind of public transport which utilise Bus. It is better because you only built special track/lane on congested area and the bus can bypass that area. On other area the bus can just works like normal bus. So you save cost as bus can extends to more area than LRT/MRT can.

He might not be a LGE supporter, but this comment is nothing political. Just to be fair.

Ong Eu Soon

This is an unrealistic proposal. First the state government does not have enough funding. Second, any elevated structure for the railway in the heritage enclave risk violating the conservasion guideline. Third, it cannot implement along the northwest coatline which has narrow road. Finally it is too costly to deploy to the whole penang state. Thus deny other the opportunities to have affordable public transit.

Kwan May Fun

Lived in Hangzhou for 2 years and used buses only. Bus 25 goes to the city from where I lived. Peak hours in mornings , the 3 lanes of the 4 lane road to the city are opened to buses/taxis only, the 1 lane for cars. At traffic lights, traffic police control flow of vehicles. Cars only get to cross traffic lights every 15 minutes. Public transport gets priorities. Once on my way home from city at around 4pm, saw a convoy of 10 buses 25 trooping downtown to transport people home from work. The crowd at the 25 bus… Read more »

Ric Francis

I have been talking for near on 9 years about a tramway both in Historical Georgetown and LRT to Airport. My feeling are well known both by State Government Ministers as well as general public.
I could have a paper prepared with latest technical data on request.
no later than new year.

K. Rajendran

I’ve just returned from Copenhagen after a 3 months stay. I travel every where by public transport, trains and buses. A ticket is valid for 1 hour and can be used for multiple journeys. I take the underground Metro train from my place of stay, continue my journey by S-train and then on by bus to my final destination with the one ticket as long as the journey is within 1 hour. How convenient. Perhaps it would be a good idea for the state govermment to carry out a study of this efficient transport system in Copenhagen.


I quite agree, it shouldn’t be just road or just rail. There must be a holistic solution with various degree of trains/mrt/rail and buses.
Roads are still need by buses and asking or telling ppl not to use cars can’t happen over nite.

Inner Voice

YB Sim, go for it – electric trains on rail lines on existing roads will be ideal. Less costly and less polution. .


Yes, I also support sustainable and predictable public transport system over private vehicles on the road.

Suggest th gomen to implement system (pay to use road during peak period if drive vehicle alone with no passengers on board) to encourage more to yse public transport. Also plan to start state controlled public bus system besides the profit-minded federal controlled Rapidpenang.


I remember those days the bus services provided by Lim Seng Seng, Yellow Bus, Hin Bus were good.

I think many Penangites do not know why they no longer exist and why the Yellow Bus ceased operation abruptly. It may be interesting to find out what had the previous state government done to the bus service providers.

Maybe Hood-less Koh should explain it.

semuanya OK kot

Bus services are being destroyed by design (price control on tickets, extorsion, lack of dedicated lanes etc.) for the same reason trams were killed off, here as well as overseas. Major vested interests can gain more from other modes of transport such as these: – mega rail projects – the private car, highway and petroleum industries. More roads –> more junctions –> more jams. This was proven by a British maths professor. So they keep building more roads supposedly to serve us. London has implemented traffic calming which, besides emphasis on public transport, includes closing off some bridges across the… Read more »


Bo Hood is too busy positioning himself for his next kodak moment with the PM. You want an explaination from him ? Dream on.

Andrew I

Where is … Boh Hoot’s press secretary, Gelakan Korek?


Hmmm…. No one seems to know the reason why these bus companies ceased operation…

Wonder if Anil is interested to find out…


As a bus user in the 90s, I believe everyone know it is the virus called “Mini Bus”!


Syabas to YB Sim Tze Tzin. Might I also add that all it takes is to get forward and future thinking people to sit down and plan it out and Penang will be able to address the present congestion. Mind you congestion will increase whether there are roads or not. If Penang Rapid and LRT can work together to optimise delivery, more people will opt for public transportation. Tell me truthfully, Penangites, have you not parked your cars meters away and walked to your destinations? Whats the point in bringing your car and paying exorbitant parking rates then? Instead there… Read more »


Yes Anil, that would be the way to go. The present bridge cannot cope with the traffic. I wonder if anyone thought about this when they built the bridge. Penang needs access to the mainland. No second thoughts about it.

Don’t you sometimes wonder why the people in high places don’t think this way? Are there budget constraints? Any other reasons? Political? Geographical?

tan, tanjung bungah

Hi everyone,

I support the suggestion of a rail link as suggested by YB Sim.

It should be a 2-prong or multi-prong approach by also improving public bus transport system as a pull factor to encourage more people to use the buses. There should be a special bus lane, wherever practicable, to help buses keep to their schedules.


I was told YB Sim Tze Tzin is a pragmatic person having spent many years in Silicon Valley of USA prior to his return to Bolehland to bring positive change to the Jerejak/Bayan Baru folks in Penang. He is challenging the typical mindsets of Malaysians (especially Penangites) who seems to keen to own/drive personal cars and the local authority who only seem interesteh in road expansion or new tunnels to cater for increasing traffic woes on island ! LGE and members should be firm to tackle traffic congestion and not bow down to typical short tem mindset. Should encourage more… Read more »

K Omar

Sim is a better and more principled YB than present Bayan Baru Zahrain who leaped to become independent candidate betraying the trusts of the people.
Agree ?


I am all for efficient and timely public tranportation in any form.
We should promote public transportation to lower our carbon footprint.

The young generation should use their limited fund (discounting the possibility high income nation) to invest in housing (asset that appreciate) instead of car ownership (an expense item that depreciates in value). Please discard the notion that it is shameful to take public transportation.

BN is protecting Proton to encourage car ownership.
That’s why I am counting on Pakatan to take the lead here, starting in Penang.