This article addresses a critical part of the on-going Penang transport master planning process — the importance of professional competence int the sustainable transport planning field —which at present is doing so very poorly on just about all fronts. It presents extracts from the final chapter and overview for the necessary future preparations as set out in Halcrow’s “Institutional Plan” document of October 2012 . The complete original report is available at http://bit.ly/2KvCz1u.
This excellent analysis and action program recommendations for the future was paid for by the citizens and taxpayers of Penang. All the reports in this series are being made freely available to all under the Creative Commons Public Domain License ( https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/PDM_FAQ)
Readers interested in accessing the eight key volumes, will find them available in the Penang/Battle of Ideas “Watching Brief “web site at http://bit.ly/2KEXWcS – and from there cursor down to the right hand column under the heading Halcrow Reports: 2011-2013.
Dr. AH Abdul Hamid, an eminent traffic and transport engineer from the School of Housing, Building and Planning at the USM, has recently issued a strong call to respond to the at times acrimonious debate between the government and its consultants who are defending a high cost, car-oriented, project-oriented “Big Bang” program of costly investments (PTMP), and on the other side a coalition of representatives of civil society in Penang who are asking for a revised planning process that better corresponds to the needs, the environment and the vision of the people of Penang. This call, first published locally in Chinese in the China Press of August 13, 2016 was translated into English and reposted in the Wednesday edition of World Streets – http://wp.me/psKUY-4wd.
Dr. Hamad takes a step back from the increasingly acrimonious public arguments and recommends that
- “the government engage independent experts to study both the proposals by SRS and the NGOs, based on best scientific estimates of construction cost, acquisition cost, maintenance and operation cost, life cycle, opportunity costs and externalities, ridership, environmental and life quality impacts, cultural and heritage issues, impacts on vulnerable populations, etc. . . . instead of keep on arguing.”
Inspired by this call for perspective in the following article I have pulled out of my working notes this article sketching what I believe to be the first basics of an appropriate planning structure and strategy for the much-needed rethink, based on the experience of many cities at the leading edge of sustainable transport that works for all. In this form it is not an easy read, and for that I appologize. My point is that we need to find a solid science-based middle ground, and as Hilmy advises get on with it “instead of keep on arguing.”
For extensive background on both sides of this debate readers are invited to consult the right hand column of the Sustainable Penang/New Mobility website at https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/, .
Dear Friends of Penang,
As part of our 2013-2019 Watching Brief on the realities of the sustainable transport/mobility/access planning and policy in Penang Malaysia, it is important that we present fully and fairly the position of local government and their allies in formulating and leading their on-going “Penang Transport Master Plan” (PTMP).
We want to present their best case for their ambitious long term venture. For now we have posted on the Sustainable Penang website, a total of eight documents/references setting out their point of view, including the government’s latest position papers on the on-going Penang Transport Master Plan. You will find them with hot links for easy referencing on the upper right hand column of the site at https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com and also here just below:
– Eric Britton, Paris. Update of 30 October 2018
Why a Watching Brief for Penang?
On 23 November 2013 I submitted the final report and recommendations to close out the first stage of my planned work as an invited adviser and critic of Penang’s transportation strategy, plans and procedures. (See the Mission statement at https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/the-mission/ ) The report was intended as a working draft for wide distribution and vigorous critical discussion in the following months. It was entitled:
You can access the full advisory report here – http://bit.ly/2IqZ0PO
HOLD IT! Expected next stage not engaged. What happened?
When the report and its recommendations were apparently set aside and entirely ignored — as had been the fate of the excellent, highly professional reports and recommendations of the Halcrow Transport Group — I decided not to let it ride and instead of turning my back on this highly dangerous “Master Plan” project chose to set up a public “Watching Brief on Sustainable Transport in Penang” . The objective of the brief is to follow and report to a wide international audience on the continuing see-saw battle between an obstinate under-qualified state government consortium and powerful lobby with a closed-door multi-billion dollar “Big Bang” (their words) program of massive infrastructure expansion, almost all parts of which would in good time succeed only in making what is already a bad situation (mainly nothing more fearful than a plain-vanilla peak hour congestion problem) significantly worse.
After noting the resounding silence in Penang as far as my analysis and recommendations were concerned, my option was to cash the client’s check, do nothing and forget Penang. Or perhaps to set up something along the lines of an independent . . .
Watching Brief on Penang’s evolving transport situation and disputes
The goal of this internet platform and associated social media sites then is to support legitimate sustainable transport initiatives, critical thinking, open discussions, new ideas, consistent policy, fruitful alliances and fact-oriented discussion and anything else that might help advance the public’s understanding of the New Mobility Agenda in Penang. The watching brief also keeps a careful eye open to identify, feed and encourage public discussion of what are almost surely in this case poor science, bad ideas, absurd proposals and ad hoc initiatives which violate the basic precepts of the sustainability agenda.
A watching brief is a continuous, independent, and in this case open collaborative monitoring activity of progress and problems taking place in a specific sector or area. It takes a arms-length vision of the focus area and in this case is made broadly available to the public and all involved as a tool in support of Civil Society in Penang.
Extract downloaded from Penang State Government site, 25 Aug. 2018 Source: http://pgmasterplan.penang.gov.en
Foreword By Right Honourable Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang
The State Government takes issues on road congestion and public transport system in Penang seriously since it was voted into office in 2008. It has embarked on an initiative to conduct a comprehensive study, the Penang Transport Master Plan (TMP) regarding the current state of the transport system and traffic in May 2011.
Penang continues to face major problems – the 3Cs viz. crime, cleanliness and congestion. These problems have compounded due to the influx of investors and tourists to the state. In 2008-2014, Penang recorded an investment of RM48.2 billion compared to only RM24.9 billion in 2001 – 2007. This twofold increase in investment has subsequently contributed to the rise in the number of tourists both local or overseas that choose Penang as a preferred tourist destination.
Fifteen local NGOs have cautioned Penangites not to rush to endorse the state’s mega-billion transport master plan (PTMP), saying more consultation and transparency are needed in the massive deal.
The NGOs, including Aliran and the Penang Heritage Trust, issued a joint statement giving Penangites nine major reasons why “the people of Penang should not be rushed into signing this important agreement”.
They said this while commending and expressing support on the need to prioritise public transport over the present private car-centric transport system.
Critical issues they want the state and its appointed project delivery partner SRS Consortium to address include the tremendous costs involved – currently estimated at RM40 billion.. .
“The most worrying concern is that the PTMP lacks vision, it is touted as a plan for Penang for the next 50 years yet it is trapped in 20th century technology and approach in planning,” the NGOs said.
“It proposes obsolescent solutions to Penang’s transport problems, ignoring the latest developments in mass transit planning around the world.
This is the fourth article in a series to explain why the Penang state government should get an independent review of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). Ahmad Hilmy & Lim Mah Hui | Published: 6 Aug 2018. https://www.malaysiakini.co
ANALYSIS | Why does Penang need to rush to have the 7.2km undersea tunnel project when the original Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) officially adopted by the state government clearly states that it is not an urgent priority?
Why this haste when the survey of Penang’s traffic volume by UK-based engineering consultant Halcrow showed that cross-channel traffic in 2011 accounted for only 7 percent of total state traffic during peak hours?