No federal loan for Penang transport projects? Turn setback into opportunity

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The difficulty in securing a federal bridging loan of RM1bn makes this a timely occasion to reiterate the colossal financial obligations involved, says Penang Forum.

Everyone wants the traffic congestion in Penang to be reduced. We want it as soon as possible.

Perhaps the complication in the Penang state government’s plan in securing federal bridging loan financing for phase one of the six-lane Pan Island Link highway (PIL1) will be an opportunity for it to rethink and review SRS Consortium’s RM46bn transport infrastructure proposal.

Conduct a review

It would be timely to ask independent external globally acknowledged sustainable mobility experts to review the proposal in the context of resolving Penang’s transport and traffic problems – not just for the short term but for the next few generations. The cost of such a review would be minimal compared to the crippling proposed expenditure of RM46bn – and the savings could be huge.

The difficulty in securing a federal bridging loan of RM1bn makes this a timely occasion to reiterate the colossal financial obligations involved in the SRS proposal.

A huge burden

The entire scheme, projected currently at RM46bn, is made up of:

  • Phase 1: RM23bn – consisting of PIL1 (RM7.5bn), an elevated light rail transit system (RM9bn) and the undersea tunnel and three highways (RM6.5bn)
  • Phase 2: RM23bn – consisting of two elevated monorails, a light rail across the channel, a tram line in George Town and other roads etc

Can future generations of Penang residents cope with this burden? Should they have to?

Nothing is for free

Coastlines, hills, rivers, parks, scarce state land, lower building heights and densities, sustainable livelihoods are all being traded.

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Reclamation will directly affect the lives of thousands of fishermen and decrease the supply of fish, resulting in higher prices. It will cause long-term siltation and pollution.

Prioritise public transport

This is the opportunity to prioritise public transport instead of building more highways that will take years of agonising construction

Better, Cheaper, Faster alternatives

Seriously investigate better, cheaper, faster alternatives such as the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) and bus rapid transit. Estimates are that ART would cost one tenth of the construction cost of a light rail transit system.

These are low-hanging fruits involving speedy and affordable implementation, no digging, little disruption. Why are these non-disruptive alternatives not being seriously considered?

No compensation

A re-think and a change of plans will not involve compensation as we are informed no money has been paid and no works have started.

Penang Forum steering committee

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Evelyn
Evelyn

I am in favour of using currently available means of transport like buses . However, having used the buses to take me to the airport and back, the authorities need to make this means of transport pleasant . The buses MUST BE VERY CLEAN. The present inside layout of the buses are not conducive for comfortable rides because the seatings seem to be ‘haphazardly’ arranged . The authorities need to realise our country has a very high population of foreign workers in the blue collar work sector where they use mainly public buses . Naturally their clothings if I may say so, are soiled when they board the same buses as any other ordinary person. Can the authorities find a solution to resolve situations like that? Will they be around for centuries?