* * * SPECIAL RATES FOR PARTICIPANTS FROM PENANG * * *
The 8th International Symposium On Travel Demand Management is taking place in Taiwan from 27-29 September. All details at http://2017tdm.ntu.edu.tw/.
In recognition to those who are involved in the present vigorous public debate on a viable transport strategy and plan for Penang, the organizers are offering sharp discounts to anyone working on these issues in Penang – whether government, university, NGOs, civil society, researchers, consultants and investigative media. Instead of the full price (USD 350.00) as per 1 August the following prices are available for participants from Penang:
Penang Forum’s ‘better, cheaper, faster’ transport plan not practical, says state
YB councillor Chow Kon Yeow _______Professor Eric Britton
A Moment of Truth
Lessons from “Better, Cheaper, Faster” and Civil Society in Penang
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:
One of the reasons why such a small proportion of the world cities are working on having more sustainable transportation systems has to do with the fact that these are literally “complex systems”, a category of social and economic interactions which is far more complicated than laying down additional meters of concrete.
A complex system is filled with nuances and surprises, as a result of the fact that all of the bits and pieces that constitute them interact with each other, and all too often yields contradictory results which are quite opposite from what the initial practitiones or policymakers may have wished to bring about. The classic example of this is of course the discredited “predict and provide” approach to transport which famously creates a mindset which consistently favors more traffic. So even with all of the goodwill and hope in the world, many of these policies or approaches achieve results which are contrary to the initial expectations and often deleterious.
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.