Penang needs a transport masterplan

The Penang state government has been asked to defer adopting any agreement with the federal government on large infrastructure projects until a transport masterplan is prepared for the state.

A group of 12 Penang-based non-governmental organisations said they were concerned with statements made by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng that he was planning on signing such agreements, including those for the second Penang Bridge and monorail projects.

Group coordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said as much as the group was in favour of further expanding public transportation in Penang, these must be deferred until a transport masterplan was in place.

“Many Penangites believe that the monorail and second link as currently designed were proposed with a view of achieving large profits for politically-connected companies.

“Thus, we believe that the projects, particularly the monorail, are neither the most suitable nor the most sustainable for Penang.

“We believe that any massive transportation mode requiring massive permanent infrastructure should not be implemented without proper study and a transport masterplan,” Choong said.

He said there were many alternatives besides the intrusive overhead monorail system that were cheaper, more sustainable and suitable for Penang with its heritage city and tree-lined roads.

“There are modern trams as used in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and recently introduced in Paris, Melbourne, Nottingham, Manchester and five other British cities.

“Trams were used by cities throughout the world including Penang until phased out by the increase of number of cars which are now proving to be a problem,” he added.

Choong said the O-Bahn bus and rail links of Adelaide, Australia, and many German cities were hailed as among the best sustainable public transportation for cities similar in size to Penang.

He added that the second bridge should at least incorporate a rail link and the RapidPenang bus services, while the ferry service should be expanded, to reduce dependence on private vehicles.

The group also called for the earlier proposal by the previous state government for the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) to be re-assessed in the transport masterplan as the years of delay had rendered the project completely out of date.

Calling for a professional group to be appointed to prepare the transport masterplan, the group also suggested that a state transport authority chaired by Lim be set up to decide on broad police directions.

“With a clear briefing on what is best for Penang, the chosen transportation mode can then be offered for open tender, as Lim has advocated. This is surely preferable to vendors coming to offer their particular system to Penang,” Choong said.

“We should not let vendors determine what transport mode we adopt.” - By The Edge Daily

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