Towards Sustainable Transport in Malaysia – What we already knew in 2001 and are steadfastly ignoring today

Penang Changing Directions - color

The Consumer Association of Penang organized a National Seminar on Changing directions from 7-10 September 2001  in Penang, subsequent to which a report was published and we now make  freely available here in its entirety at https://goo.gl/kQVD0T. This is a remarkably prescient document which was largely ignored at the time despite the vigorous effort of the Consumers’ Association of Penang and others in the city’s lively civil society and NGOs.  Somehow neither Penang or the national government were prepared to devote time and resources to finding the path to sustainable transport in cities. (And they were not the only ones.)

The policy of directly or indirectly encouraging the use of private motor cars and motorcycles to meet the transport needs of our people has had severe effects on the quality of life in the cities and on the economy and efficiency of urban transportation.
The solution to the problem of traffic congestion has been to build more roads, flyovers, interchanges, bridges and toll plazas but the problem remains
Our transport system has created what one sociologist referred to as the “rivers of death that run outside our doors”. . . It is the poor who constitute the majority of road accident vic¬tims. About 60% of all fatal accidents involve motorcyclists, 17% pedestrians, and 7% cyclists
Development, without regard to our environment, heritage and tradition, has been responsible for the despoilment of our urban landscape. Beautiful green towns and cities with open grounds, human-scale buildings and rich architectural gems have given way to ugly metropolises with dominating skyscrapers, megamalls and ugly transport infrastructure.
And that is just a taste of which this excellent document offers still today. Read on . . .

Continue reading

Penang Transport Master Plan (SDS version)

A Big Bang approach to a Sustainable Penang

PtMP - SDS - CMHolistic approach

The full content of the official Penang Transport Master Plan (SDS version) as available on 27 June 2016 is reproduced here for the convenience of our international visitors interested to follow progress . As indicated this is considered by local government as a living document, subject to extensions and updates. For the latest version of this document: http://pgmasterplan.penang.gov.my

Continue reading

Changing Directions: Toward Sustainable Transport in Malaysia

Blast from the Past: A decade and a half ago we knew what to do.

. . . But we didn’t.  Any answers?

Penang Changing Directions - colorIn September 2001 after a three-day conference under the title “Changing Directions: Toward Sustainable Transport in Malaysia” was organized in Penang, the sponsor, the Consumers’ Association of Penang”, issued a handy pocket-sized version of a 76 page report, intended to serve as a handy “Statement and Summary of Conclusions of the National Seminar”.

This was a remarkably responsible and prescient document, and it is my hope that with the help of the Consumers Association of Penang we will be able to have PDF versions freely available on our shared Sustainable Penang  Public Library here at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD

Awaiting that happy day , I would like to share with you now and by way of first introduction the opening paragraphs which immediately help us to understand how informed and serious the analysis was so many years ago.

Continue reading

Mobilien: Better, Faster, Cheaper. . . than BRT (for Penang)

While Penang is thinking once again about its transportation arrangements, we are hearing a lot of late about BRT and tramways — and rightfully. Both a huge improvement over earlier proposals for a mad spaghetti mix of intrusive monorails, elevated LRT/LRV systems,  Sky Cabs hanging uselessly in the horizon, over-built road infrastructure projects  to serve and encourage yet  more car traffic, and a backbreaking  proposal for a sea tunnel that would bring yet more traffic into the island and in the process extend and multiply today’s traffic mess and associated inconveniencies

But before we make up our minds let’s also give a thought to another less well known mobility option, the Mobilien.  It may be just what you were looking for.

Paris Mobilien 1

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading