Getting from A to B in Penang: Technology choice

Penang SRS consortium reps looking at map tunnel



Penang, 4 August 2016: The state-appointed SRS consulting team who have presented their revised Transport Master Plan and project proposals have inserted specific high cost modal and technology choices without sharing the technical analysis behind these choices, with a heavy no-choice no-explanation preference for no less than three exotic monorails, elevated LRT, major road building and road works, and, depending on the day, bridges and/or tunnels.

Have they actually done their homework? No one knows since the technical studies are being kept confidential, despite promises by the state government to make them public.

Yet there are lots of two dozen competing ways of getting from A to B. Here’s an incomplete shortlist of different candidates, just to get us going:

  • Adding lanes/Widening existing road.
  • Alternative energy sources/fuels (many)
  • Bicycle highway
  • Bike lanes
  • Bike route
  • Bridle path
  • BRT – Heavy (exclusive lane)
  • BRT – Light (some sharing)
  • Building a new road
  • Bus priority system
  • Cable car
  • Collector systems (first/last kilometer)
  • Commuter rail
  • First mile (kilometer)
  • Funicular
  • GRT (Group rapid transit)
  • Guided busways
  • HOVs (High occupancy vehicles)
  • HOV lanes
  • Lane diets
  • Last Mile (kilometer)
  • LRT
  • Metro
  • Minibus services
  • Mobilien
  • Monorail (straddle-beam)
  • Monorail (suspended)
  • PRT (Personal Rapid Transit)
  • Rail
  • Road diets
  • Slugging
  • Straddle bus
  • Urban rail
  • Walkway

BTW, Penang needs solutions  today and over the next several years, and not jam tomorrow. (Actually the SRS solution is also jam today.)

Sorry if the above is a bit long and boring (and incomplete), but the point is that the planning team must be fully aware of the performance parameters, construction and operations costs, etc. of all these eventual candidate modes (and more)

I can only hope that the SRS team did all of the above carefully before coming up with their final recommendations. And I look very much to studying the twenty volume report in order to see how they handled this.  (Any news on this?)

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About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. 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, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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