The New Government should have a New Transport Policy

Count the buses, trams, bicycles, and shared cars in moring rush hour in Penang

   – By Wang Zuxun. This excellent article was published July 3, 2018 in Chinese in . It was kindly brought to our attention by Dr, Lim Mah Hui, former Councillor in the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and active as a member in the Penang Forum. What follows is a machine translation of the Chinese original, lightly edited for clarity as possible. You will still find anomalies, but the text is largely readable and the article so good that we can leave it to you to sort them out for yourselves. 

When Prime Minister Mahathir (re) took his first visit to Japan after taking office, he said in a special speech that Proton (Proton) has been sold to Chinese companies and no longer belongs to Malaysia. Therefore, the government intends to create a new domestic car brand. This statement came out, and it was awkward. The public opinion held a negative attitude towards this conversation. After all, Proton’s failure experience is still vivid.

When Mahathir visited Indonesia recently, he once again mentioned the need to cooperate with Indonesia to promote the ASEAN Car project, which was proposed in 2014 and then died due to “unforeseen factors”, as if it were not to re-run the national automobile industry. Not good enough to stop.

Mahathir’s obsession with cars has never changed for decades. In the era of his first appointment (1981-2003), the government devoted a lot of manpower and resources to the establishment of the national automobile industry, actively building highways, protecting and relegating domestically produced vehicles from the policy, and ignoring the construction of public transportation all the year round. The town also plans and designs from the perspective of private cars and interests. It is convenient for the car to crowd out pedestrians and car riders, essentially forcing the people to buy a car.

People who are not allowed in economic conditions can use it because they do not have cheap and effective public transportation. They have to travel by motorbike.


Highly car dependent society

As a result of this policy tilt, Malaysia has become the country with the highest car ownership rate in ASEAN. According to statistics, as of June 30, 2017, the total number of private transport registered in Malaysia was 26,22,1,839, while in 2017, the population of Malaysia was over 24,300, which is equal to the average of every person over 15 years old. A private transport.

In terms of cars alone, there are 415 vehicles per 1,000 people. It is second only to the oil-producing Brunei in Southeast Asia. It is also among the top developing countries in the world, and surpasses developed countries such as Taiwan, Singapore and Latvia.

In addition, according to the Malaysian Highway Safety Research Institute, in West Malaysia, where the road system is perfect, an average car travels more than 28,184 kilometers per year, and the motorbike is 21,495 kilometers. This is equivalent to 38 times the north-south avenue with a total length of 748 kilometers.

The above data shows that Malaysia is highly Automobile-Dependent, is the most dominant and dominant mode of transportation with private transportation. Other alternatives (walking, riding a bicycle) And taking public transportation is often seen as an impractical or final option.

This car-Centric Culture is deeply imprinted on Malaysia’s national planning and urban design, and it controls all aspects of our daily lives. The result is that “no car is equal to no foot”, giving up private transportation is equal to Beyond all economic opportunities.

The diagram below explains how car dependence forms and self-reinforces. As the car-increasing rate increases, the public and private sectors plan more car-oriented development (such as more parking spaces and fewer sidewalks) to accommodate the demand. The asphalt road is wider and wider to provide ample space for the car to pass quickly or Parked and crowded out other modes of transportation.

At the same time, the density of commercial and residential areas must be limited, otherwise it will face severe traffic congestion. As a result, newly developed municipalities are mostly low-density suburbs, which are also farther apart from each other, resulting in urban sprawl and suburbanization.

Due to the reduction of travel methods or the deterioration of the quality of soft and hard bodies, and the city is expanding and the scale is getting larger and larger, people can only buy cars or motorbikes, and further increase the rate of car ownership. The vicious circle is formed.

Car dependence cycle

As far as the situation in Malaysia is concerned, this has not only started from Mahathir’s establishment of Proton in 1983, but has also deteriorated rapidly since then. The national automobile industry is not a philanthropy. If a business is to be sustainable, it must sell its products.

However, the quality of Proton and the second domestic car (Perodua) cannot compete with other brands in the international market, and potential consumers are limited to the domestic market.

In order to promote sales, the BN government has imposed heavy taxes on foreign brands, while allowing domestic public transport infrastructure to wither, punishing car-free people, forcing them to buy cars, and giving many people In particular, the fresh people who first came out of the society brought unnecessary burdens. This is evident from the fact that the default of car loans is the biggest reason why Malaysians have been sentenced to poverty (accounting for 26.63% of all bankruptcy reasons).


Car center culture hurts mind and body

Why is it highly dependent on cars to seriously affect people’s quality of life? It is fast and convenient to drive, no need to take the time to go, enjoy full private space, etc. Shouldn’t we build more highways and produce cheaper domestic cars so that more people can enjoy the benefits of driving?

One of the most basic reasons is that driving or riding a motorcycle often makes us more exposed to the risk of traffic accidents. According to 2016 statistics, traffic accidents ranked fourth in the Malaysian Cause of Deaths, accounting for 5.4%, and the third (7.4%) of Premature Death. In that year, a total of 7,152 people died in traffic accidents in Malaysia, of which 62.7% were Capricorn knights.

The high rate of death accidents is a characteristic of low-developing countries. 22.6 people in Malaysia have died of traffic accidents per 100,000 population, ranking the world’s last third, below the global average of 17.8 (2015 estimates) Data, 1.3 million people worldwide died in traffic accidents, and the world population was estimated at 7.3 billion in that year.

Even if we are lucky and have not died in a car accident, we are still a victim of the car center culture. Many studies have pointed out that the causes of death in Malaysia are the first (13.2%) and the third (6.9%) of the two diseases – ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease (stroke), both with pollution and traffic generated by vehicles.The psychological stress caused by obstruction is closely related.

A study of Los Angeles residents at the University of California showed that car exhaust pollution caused a higher risk of heart disease in residents living on major roads with severe traffic jams. The World Health Organization report also confirmed environmental noise pollution (including car engines and speeding). And the noise caused by wind resistance is one of the causes of heart disease.

On the psychological level, the pressure created by the daily stuffing in the car or the trouble of finding a parking space makes us violent and irritable. With the popularity of social media and the popularity of driving recorders, the Road Rage incident is more likely to be captured and distributed by the camera, from which we have seen many angry car drivers, and even if they don’t agree, they will even fight.

We have been trapped in a car that is closed like a small box for a long time. We have lost the opportunity to share limited space with strangers when taking public transportation, and we have lost the ability to rub shoulders and peace with strangers.When we meet strangers, any unintentional friction can be resolved with a polite smile at the beginning of the conflict; but if two cars collide or even conflict for road rights, the two sometimes act There is hatred that is not shared.

Because the private space of the car gives us a sense of falseness, thinking that my car is the biggest in the world, forgetting that the road is actually the same as the park and the bus, it is a public space, and all users need to respect each other. Tolerance and courtesy.

External costs of driving

Some individual economic behaviors affect other individuals in society, but they do not receive corresponding rewards or pay corresponding costs. Economics refers to this behavior as externality.

Those who benefit from others’ external benefits are external economic behaviors; those who intentionally or unintentionally pass on others to generate external costs are external Diseconomy behaviors.

People often tend to exercise external uneconomical consumption behaviors because they do not have to bear all the costs, why not?

The external cost of driving on the road is often ignored by drivers. According to a study by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the external costs of car travel can be divided into the following categories:

First, Road resources are crowded and scarce
Second, traffic accidents
Third, air pollution
Fourth, noise
Fifth. Climate change
Sixth . Others (such as natural landscape reduction, water and soil pollution, etc.)

Although personal driving on the road, enjoy the comfortable and fast door-to-door (Door-to-Door) mobile mode without paying extra money for this, but each of us is a unit that constitutes the whole society, one day the above outside The cost will still be evenly distributed to us.

How to internalize these external costs, let the drivers pay the corresponding costs to compensate others or reduce the willingness to drive to achieve the ultimate elimination of external costs, is the core transportation policy of many countries.

In addition, the highly dependent car traffic model also destroys our community awareness. Most Malaysians live in landed homes, and the front yard is also the garage. Every day, after we got on the bus in the front yard, we drove all the way to work. When we got off work in the evening, we went back to the front yard of the house from the parking lot. The front gate returned to our small world.

Most people didn’t see their neighbors all day, because everyone followed the same commute mode to travel between home and work.

Unfamiliarity with community neighbours leads to the inability to build mutual trust between people, and it is widespread that widespread indifference and shrinking social capital. If we can’t even establish a good relationship with relatively homogeneous neighbors, how can we expect the atmosphere of the entire society to be universally pervasive, the suspicion between people and ethnic groups, religion and religion, and the superficial harmony? improve?


New government, old thinking?

In 1966, the National Film Board of Canada produced a cartoon short film “What on Earth!”. This film is humorous and has been nominated for the 40th Academy Award for Best Cartoon Short Film.

The title of the film is the name of the “Mars National Film Bureau”, and the Earth is observed by automatically detecting the angle of the spacecraft. Because the activities of motor vehicles on the earth are endless, Martians mistakenly believe that motor vehicles are the higher intelligent creatures that dominate the earth (the Martians will call it “Earthlings”).

In the short film, human figures finally appeared. The narration introduced these as parasites on Earthlings. The city is the parasite’s nest, which hinders the progress of Earthlings. How to get rid of the parasites is the biggest challenge for earth creatures. In contrast to the past in order to build roads, many communities were dismantled and broken up, and countless families were forced to move. The end of the short film was indeed thought-provoking.

What is worrying is that the car-centered development thinking is not only in the minds of the former government-sized municipal officials and the “recycling” prime minister. There are also many political figures in the various parties of the Ximeng, such as the ruling party. Chief Minister of Penang Cao Guanyou.

When talking about NGOs suggesting to replace the construction of LRT with modern streetcars, they said, “If you set up trams on existing roads, the number of available roads will be reduced. This is the use of LRT or MRT above the road or underground passage. The system is different. The implication is that we certainly intend to develop public transportation, but if the price is to reduce the road to the car, sorry, this is not feasible.

What Cao Guanyou doesn’t know is that it is not only to reduce the use space of the car, but also to change the value of the car. More importantly, this action shows the change of values: the road is a scarce resource, and the most economical way is Give priority to public transport that can transport more people. Cars are no longer the center of transportation planning, but just one of the vehicles that use road resources, and they are the least efficient.

Encouraging and even forcing the people to buy a car for a domestic car is not what we need. On the contrary, the new government’s traffic policy is the first to improve bus services and pedestrian facilities, and the people have a reliable, safe and comfortable public transportation system. The transportation mode allows people to get rid of their dependence on the car and choose a commuter that is more suitable for their financial situation and life values.

In the long run, the Ximeng government should comprehensively review the city, the region, and even the entire land planning, and promote the closer layout of the big towns and towns, making the use of public transportation, bicycle riding and walking the most rational choice for every resident. Whether they go out to work, go to school, have fun, or just cook and cook until half of the sauce is found, just want to buy a bottle of soy sauce.



Anonymous reader comment published by

I wonder if the author knows about the urban space, road space, or pedestrian space in Penang. It should not be arbitrarily said that the head of the Penang refused to vacate 1-2 lanes to the bus or tram, but the other way round; Penang City could not vacate 1-2 lanes for the tram, because it was almost all the empty space in the urban area. . Penang is overcrowded and many places have even narrow pedestrian facilities.

The land policy is different from that of Singapore. Therefore, if all road space is forcibly given to public transportation, what is the current 1.7 million private transportation in Penang? How do other tour buses and factory buses use these spaces? And how to gradually expand the sidewalk according to the plan? Without buffering or supporting measures, it is extremely unwise to directly conclude that we should give almost limited road space to the tram on the road.

There is no Overnight Miracle, no one is opposed to trams on the road, but it is ridiculous to think about road space, pedestrian space, and public safety; it is just as absurd as the only solution by the Penang Forum NGOs. In any case, I agree with the need for this article for high-density urban planning.

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About the author:

Wang Zuxun graduated from the Department of Electrical Engineering of Central University of Taiwan and is currently a software R&D engineer.

Growing up in the reinforced concrete jungle since childhood, I am fascinated by all the tangible or intangible things in the city.


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About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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