We support the idea of a transport master plan for Penang that is truly environmentally friendly and financially viable. We reject the SRS and Penang state’s proposal for prioritising road building ahead of public transport. We want the state to adopt a Better, Cheaper, Faster Penang Transport Master Plan using BRT and trams as the preferred mode of public transport.
Under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) the people of Penang have been presented with the SRS proposal and the Zenith BUCG plan that will change our lives in a big way. The Penang state government’s ‘Big Bang’ approach combining seven different modes of transportation (roads, LRT, monorail, tram, Bus Rapid Transit/feeder buses, cable cars and water transportation) costing RM46bn will be only partially funded by reclaiming more than 4,000 acres of land. These proposals will not solve Penang’s traffic and transport problems.
These proposals have major shortcomings and ignore a number of measures required for a ‘holistic approach to resolving transportation issues’.
- They lack vision and are trapped in an old paradigm. They are still car-centric and massive highway construction will only encourage greater use of private vehicles, undermining any proposed public transport system;
- They are based on questionable population and ridership projections which could lead Penang into major financial difficulties.
- They propose too many poorly integrated public modes of transport which are 2-3 times more expensive to build and 2-3 times more to operate and maintain annually than the trams and BRT recommended by Halcrow;
- There is a lack of transparency around the whole project and there are potential conflicts of interest from the Project Delivery Partner structure.
The alternative plan we propose adopts a holistic-incremental approach to addressing Penang’s mobility and transport problems, taking into account the limited resources of the state. Based on the principle of ‘moving people, not cars’ the alternative plan prioritises good public transport system over road building and adopts the modern tram and BRT based public transport system recommend by Halcrow. The alternative plan is:
- Better because it is more accessible for all; has a smaller footprint and is friendlier to the environment; is quieter and produces less vibrations; is flexible and much easier to expand in the future;
- Cheaper at half the price to build, and therefore cheaper to expand in the future, and two to three times cheaper to operate and maintain;
- Faster as a modern tram and BRT system is twice as fast to construct and can be built on the island and the mainland at the same time. A system built twice as fast means half the disruption to daily life and no need to wait until 2030 for SRS to get round to completing their proposal.
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