STEP: Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang (Archives)

Penang cener traffic growth

How were the leading minds  in Penang looking at the challenges of sustainable transport back at the turn of the century?  Did you know this? In many ways considerably better than is the case today. They were lucid, they had focus, and they stuck with the issues at hand..

To bring you into the picture (above)  let’s have a look at a presentation made back in 1999 introducing a collaborative civil society program at the time, called STEP – Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang. If you look closely you will note that just about all of the issues and recommendations that were being discussed back then, are every bit as topical today. But somehow we lost almost two decades.

What happened? Why did not this enlightened program take off at the time.  We shall be looking at that closely in the coming weeks and seeing if we can learn at least some of the lessons of the past.

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Better. Faster. Cheaper – Toward a New Mobility Agenda:

Better-Faster-Cheaper - script

It is amazing how words can pop up and associate in a situation in which a number of people with different ideas and orientations come together to see if they can put their fingers on some elusive but important truth.

Over the past months as a civil society consensus critiquing the State government’s transport plan in Penang (and, no less important, the process behind it) has slowly taken shape, this short phrase  is starting to crop up often enough to serve as a common motto, a watchword, a rallying point to give high visibility to the ideas and proposals that are better adapted to the important work that remains to be done.

When we speak of the path to a sustainable transport system and sustainable Penang today, we now speak with a unified voice of Better, Faster, Cheaper. Let’s have a look at how this works.

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To reduce congestion, widen roads. Right? No, wrong!

Penang heavy traffic on highway -  one way

The Politicians and Engineers are Wrong, Widening Roads will not Reduce Congestion, says Councillor

By Balvin Kaor – 18 May 2016.   Reprinted from

Conventional belief that widening roads will reduce traffic congestion is wrong, said Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui.

Lim said it was still the mindset of engineers and political leaders that widening roads would reduce traffic congestion.

However, he said, the conventional wisdom was time and again proved factually wrong.

“In fact, the counter­intuitive is right, namely the road widening creates more traffic congestion.

“While the counter­intuitive is not obvious, the factual evidence is staring us in our face,” he said in a statement issued today.

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Public transport advocate solicits ideas to break ‘car culture’ in Penang

Penang has over-built infrastructures that are poorly used, says Eric Britton. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

From the Archives. George Town Malaysia. Sept 23 , 2013 —

By Opalyn Mok

A predilection for cars means that 80 per cent of transport funding is used to cater for the needs of 20 per cent of society, according to a public transport proponent today.

World Car Free Day founder Eric Britton pointed out this uneven distribution in public expenditure was an issue in many modern cities, including Penang.

“It should be the other way around where only 20 per cent funding is needed and it can fulfil the needs of 80 per cent of the society,” he said during a media focus group under the Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda two-week programme this morning.

In a bid to change that, Britton is here for the two-week Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility Agenda.

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Paradigm Shift for Public Transport in Kuala Lumpur (A lot more to it than that)

Bangkok Skytrain - Problem solved. Next? t

Bangkok Skytrain: Note the huge investment in public transport to solve the problem. Oops!

Public transport in Kuala Lumpur: A paradigm shift

First extracts:

“MAY 19 — The Malaysian Government has established an objective of improving public transport in urban areas around the country as a core to stimulate economic growth and relieve traffic congestion. In order to achieve the stated objectives, the government has allocated funds worth up to RM180 billion to be invested in new public transportation systems.

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Motorized two wheelers (M2W) in Penang. Quo vadis.

Penang motorised wo wheelers motorcycles

If you are a car owner/driver, older person trying to get across a busy street in Penang, or mother with a couple of kids on her hands, you are likely to have some pretty ugly thoughts about motor cycles/scooters.

“Instead of dreaming about a distant future, what about first seeing what you can do to meet the important mobility challenges people face every day in Penang, starting with what you already have.”

Fair enough, but the fact is that they are a very important part of the mobility systems of small Southeast Asian cities like Penang (and larger ones as well of course), and we need to learn to look at them in a more positive light. For that we need more information and better perspective.

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