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.
BETTER? — Because we are not satisfied with the quality, the sustainability, the fairness and the impact on Penang of the ideas and proposals which are presently being floated by the government’s latest version of its long-delayed “Transport Master Plan”. And that being the case, we as representatives of civil society, see it as our duty, not just to criticize but to join together to come up with considered measures and a program that are BETTER in all these senses.
FASTER? – The core of the present plan proposal is to commit vast sums of hard-earned taxpayer money over decades on projects that are going to bring relief on the streets of Penang and the daily lives of Penangites, if at all, in ten, twenty or even fifty years. But we need large improvements now, in the immediate future. With the right orientation Penang’s sustainable mobility plan and program can do just that – deliver quality in a lot less time than the suddenly very old and very very slow plan.
CHEAPER? – The investment program at the base of the present Master Plan is far too expensive for the government or taxpayer. Moreover the schemes to finance what are in any event totally inappropriate projects from a sustainable mobility perspective would break the backs of the taxpayers of Penang. Given the fact that most of the necessary remedial measures which can be brought into play are low cost – in that they concentrate on management and behavioral issues, as opposed to building lots of new infrastructure and hardware – it is perfectly possible to come up with a plan, program and timetable that is all three — Better, Faster, and Cheaper.
Stay tuned to Sustainable Penang.
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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 .