The following article appeared Malaysiakini, the most read independent news website offering daily news and views in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Reproduced here in its entirety, it is can be consulted directly from the source at http://beta.malaysiakini.com/news/251763. The reader may find some interest in the diversity of views expressed in the Comments which also are reproduced here.
Penang’s transport system inefficient, says expert
– Susan Loon, http://beta.malaysiakini.com/news/251763, Jan 14, 2014
An international expert on sustainable transport has come to the conclusion that the underlying reality in Penang today is that its transport, mobility and public space arrangements leave a great deal to be desired. “The system is in many ways inefficient, and worse it is costly and unjust. But there is worse yet: year after year they are continuing to deteriorate steadily, almost visibly,” said professor Eric Britton (right) of EcoPlan International.
“The grinding situation is one of every day: more cars, more traffic, more congestion, more pollution, more lost time, more anger, more noise, more isolation, more accidents, and fewer good affordable options for getting around for the majority of the population.
“The citizens and taxpayers of Penang deserve better,” he stressed.
Britton made known his views known in an independent report he led, published on Jan 10, on the findings of a public enquiry based on collaborative dialogues, symposia, master classes, workshops and supporting public events, launched in September.
These programme were hosted by Think City and local partners, in collaboration with EcoPlan International. Well-known veteran social activist, Anwar Fazal, chairs Think City.
Meanwhile, key implementing agencies of the programme comprise of the Penang government and two municipal councils – Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) and Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) – together with the Penang Transport Council.
The project is aimed at learning from experiences of successful innovations around the world to create strategies to identify and implement transport reforms and investment for the years 2014 and 2015.
Consistent with larger cities around the world
However, despite the realities on the ground, there is good news for Penang, Britton said, as the same inattention, inconsistencies and decay seen in the state transport system are the same behaviors, patterns and conditions encountered in the vast majority of larger cities across the developing world.
Many other cities and regions have faced these challenges in the past and have figured out how to make this transition, he added.
“So there is no reason why the same cannot be done in Penang. And one day it will. The only question is when?” Britton asked, adding that there are critical reasons why Penang must turn the situation around without delay.
He warned that any city which does not offer a pleasant and efficient place to live and work is going to lose out in the international competitions.
“The best and brightest young people will leave such a place and it (the city) cannot expect to compete for new investments, jobs and the creativity of the brightest and best in the international arena.
“Quality of life counts. So for all these reasons it is time for those in charge of transport policy and practice in Penang to look hard at what can be done to make it not only a great place to live and work but also a vigorous competitor for the best.”
Fortunately, he stated that Penang possesses a number of “real advantages, potential and eventual tools and measures” that can be put to work towards the reconversion effort.
Penang, he said, has in place a solid institutional structure led by the state, supported by the local councils and “one of the most well-developed networks of civil society and public interest groups in Asia”.
He added that Penang has sufficient funds to make all of the improvements necessary in two year providing it focuses on managing existing transportation assets and not “spending heavily on new construction projects”, as done in the past.
“The priority is not to further expand supply of inefficiently used infrastructure but rather to manage and use it better,” he added.
Britton said 12 projects have been shortlisted with a view to get this project underway, which includes, car-free days, on-board bus announcements of the next stop, CAT shuttle bus service improvements, tour bus restrictions in the George Town Heritage Site, as well as gender parity, starting with the Penang Transport Council.
There are also seven transformation projects in the pipeline, including cycling, high occupancy vehicle lanes, target mobility for rural areas, emergency traffic safety campaign, and economic instruments, which will look into congestion charging and parking.
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Comments from readers
Boiling Mud Transport system? What transport system!!!?? It is the same all over the country with preferential operating licenses dishing out to the ‘selected and well connected’ ones to skim money from the average joes.
AkuBangsaMalaysia We don’t need a rocket science professor to us Penangites that our transport system is inefficient. All of us who use the road from the trishaw man, pedestrian, cyclist to the motorist have to face the ever increasing traffic congestion everyday. Not much improvement since this second term PR state government promise of a better traffic dispersal system. Our neigbour Singapore is better with ERP to reduce private vehicles in town areas but with efficient public transport of buses, MRT, taxis.
iwatch Penang state government is like been tighten with both hands and legs. All the essential policies like public transport, education, water, electricity, land are controlled by the Federal Government. In addition, Federal Government is playing hostile to the state rules by opposition party. The Federal Government is the one to blame for the public transportation problem.
interested bystander “An international expert on sustainable transport has come to the conclusion that the underlying reality in Penang today is that its transport, mobility and public space arrangements leave a great deal to be desired” ====================================================== Sounds like KL.
hamisu I support high occupancy vehicle lanes. More jobs need to be de-centralized from particularly FIZ area. Daily congestion on Penang Bridge mainly due to commuters to FIZ
Joker Only Penang’s public transport is in trouble? Or are the other state’s public transport is as good as none so no need to do assessment? Pls la, why point finger at Penang State? This consultant does not know the basic fact that public transport is under purview of Fed Govt via the now-nationalized-now-
Pahatian But alas, the state’s transportation system is under the purview of the Federal Government and not the state. Penangites, you have to wait for another four years for better things to come.
rend yes..they must do something about parking woes in georgetown..i live in georgetown and in anytime when i take the car out for drive, it will take not less than 30 minutes to find parking. First, MPPP must fine all those prewar building tenant who block the parking in front of their shop house. Clear example in Lebuh Cina, C.Y choy road and Cecil road. easily 10- 20 parking wastages everyday due to blocking the parking from allowing anyone to park in front of their shop.
apa nama Time to be hard in order to make Penangites life better. Enough is enough! Excellent study and an eye opening to state government and two councils to start doing something and in two years time, it should be better off.
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About the author
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France
Bio: Britton is an American political scientist and sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest book, "BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City" focuses on the subject of environment, equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions. A pre-publication edition of Better Choices is currently undergoing an international peer review during Sept.- Oct. 2017, with the goal of publication in English and Chinese editions by end-year. If you wish to participate drop a line to BetterChoices@ecoplan.org .