ITDP: GEORGE TOWN COULD BECOME A MALAYSIAN BEST PRACTICE IN TRANSPORT (with 42 ITDP policy recommendations, notes and commentary)


George Town, a scenic Malaysian city on the island of Penang, is a culturally-significant and popular tourist destination. The city is a dense, beautiful collection of colonial-era and other historic, well-preserved architecture. Listed as a UNESCO World Culture Heritage site, George Town has long been an important center of trade in Penang, founded as an entry port by the British in the 1700s, and attracting traders and workers from all over the region. Today, George Town is a diverse mix of cultures, with influences of China, India, Indonesia, Burmese, the Arabic world, and many others, including the native Malays.

Editorial note: We have discussed this article in group peer commentaries reviews in recent months, and have been urged to highlight a certain number of key points and recommendations advised by the ITDP team which in our view provide an excellent starting point for the revised mobility strategy for Penang in the years immediately ahead, starting in 2020.  The original ITDP article of  4 March 2019 with illustrations, can be found at  Your comments are particularly invited on any one or all of these 42 critical points and recommendations.                 

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QUESTION TIME : RM46 billion PTMP is a risky undertaking that must be reviewed

SRS Consortium and State government meeting in Komtar to finalise PTMP.

– P Gunasegaram, Malaysians Kini, 1 Nov. 2019

The RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), expected to span 30 years, is a major risk, whichever way one looks at it because there are way too many imponderables and assumptions made – which may impact the viability of the project further down the road.

The entire project hinges heavily on the reclamation of three islands. The Penang state government says that the land reclaimed – islands A, B, and C – will have a sale value of RM70 billion for 1,800 hectares (about 4,448 acres). However, cost breakdowns and timelines are not available.

The other thing is the high cost of the projects, with activist groups claiming that many of the highways and other links involved in the project may not be needed. If these are scrapped, the cost could be much lower.

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Penang CM selling PIL1

By Eric Cheah  August 7, 2019, 

When Yeo Bee Yin, the minister in charge of the environment, praised the Penang government for making the state the first to eliminate plastic straws during a town hall meeting on the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) on Sept 20, 2018, civil society cringed.

Why ban plastic straws when they are pushing for a monstrous six-lane highway which is three storeys tall and 72ft wide and which will plough through the spine of the island?

It will plough through all three fault line zones of the island located in the sensitive Penang Hill and Paya Terubong hills, according to the environmental impact assessment (EIA).

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A 2800 word overview article appearing  in the Malay Mail of 27 June 2019 by reporter Opalyn Mok  — does a fair job of reporting on the sequence of principal events defining the PTMP and those behind it.  The overall tone of the article is that the PTMP is a reasonable plan from a competent gouvernement team  and that despite consistent  objections from civil society, the future prognosis is that the plan and process will now move ahead with the full support of local and national  government. . .  BAU (Business as usual)

To this reader the article is insufficiently critical of their government sources and technical competence, but we will leave this to other parts of the broader analysis of World Streets and others you will find in these pages  —   The PTMP AUDIT  that you will find here –

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We are very grateful to the editorial team of AnakPinang  for providing these detailed lists and references of their communiques and articles in favor ot the Penang Transport Master Plans. In order to come to a wise policy decision in complex issues like this,, it is important to listen to all the voices.  (Which is one of the reasons that democracy is such hard work.)

AnakPinang staff-members

Why we support the Penang Transport Master Plan

Members of AnakPinang collectively throw their support behind the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) in its present incarnation. We do so not out of blind loyalty to our State Government, but because we understand our government’s rationale in planning for our needs, for today and for the future. In this section, we provide you with information on why each component of the PTMP is vital.

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AnakPinang: A star is born in the Penang NGO firmament

Timothy Tye Penang blogger

Penang Citizens’ Organizations Raise AnakPinang One by One to Speak for the People

Penang has long been the base of many civic organizations, and now there is another rise of AnakPinang, which is known as the ordinary people.

The organization was founded in October and currently has 15 members, slogans in the local civic organization with the slogan “For a Better Penang”.

The promoter is Timothy Tye, who said that because no civic organization speaks on behalf of ordinary people, especially on the topic of the blueprint for transportation in Penang, it is one of the reasons for the AnakPinang organization.

The multi-billion ringgit integrated transport blueprint designed to relieve traffic hindered by the Penang State Government Cypriot problem, once implemented will be phased in gradually implemented.

However, the plan has led to a fierce rebound from a number of NGOs, including the Penang Forum, the Penang Consumers Association, the Friends of Nature Malaysia, and the Malaysian Nature Association Penang Branch.

Timothy Tye has a different opinion. He told The Perspective of Malaysia that these organizations are out of touch with the local people in Penang who have to face long-term obstruction every day.

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Penang Ferry Service: 1894-present

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Before the Penang Bridge put the ferry in the shade, the ferry service was the only means of transporting people, bicycles and motor vehicles between the mainland and the island.

The iconic ferry service of Penang has a long history where it first started to take root in its most basic form sometime between 1893 and 1894. The inaugural regular service was initiated by a local entrepreneur, Quah Beng Kee.

The ferry service lost its prominence on Aug 3, 1985 when the Penang Bridge was officially opened by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The ferry service, the most cherished and well-known icon of Penang that used to be a bustling necessity of life, has in some strange ways, been reduced to a quaint tourist attraction.

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Today: Penang Rapid Ferry Service  –

Penang Rapid Ferry terminal

Rapid Ferry’s Pulau Undan ferry at the Butterworth ferry terminal in Penang, Malaysia

From WP entry at

Rapid Ferry is a shuttle ferry service within the State of PenangMalaysia, connecting the city of George Town on Penang Island and Butterworth on the mainland. This cross-strait transit has been operational since 1894, making it the oldest ferry service in Malaysia.[1] Its fleet of six ferries carries both passengers and automobiles across the Penang Strait daily; each roll-on/roll-off ferry could accommodate cars either on its lower deck or on both decks.[2]

The first cross-strait ferry service between Penang Island and the mainland began in 1894.[1] Originally a passenger-only service, the ferries were later refitted to carry automobiles in 1925. From 1924, the ferries were operated by the Penang Port Commission (formerly Penang Harbour Board), through its subsidiary, Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

In 2017, the Malaysian federal government began transferring the ferry service from Penang Port Sdn Bhd to Prasarana Malaysia, a government-owned entity which manages urban public transportation across Malaysia.[2][3][4] Following the handover, the ferry service has been rebranded as Rapid Ferry.


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Now what?