– By Wang Zuxun. This excellent article was published July 3, 2018 in Chinese in http://bit.ly/2KSHCZn . 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.
Transport in Penang (and all around the world for that matter) relies on almost exclusively on non-renewable sources of energy. Think: 20 cars with one person in each vehicle vs. one bus with 20 passengers. The former creates traffic jams and worsens pollution to detract from the overall liveability of a city. It is often argued that supplying more roads only creates more demand for their usage. With 10,000 more vehicles added to Penang’s roads each month , we will have to commit ourselves soon to a decision to enhance sustainable transport.
Think City Bhd invited Prof Eric Britton, managing director of EcoPlan International in Paris, founder of World Car Free Days and longtime advocate of sustainable transport initiatives, to Penang with the purpose of studying the transport system, meeting stakeholders and hosting a series of events to come up with ideas and a new perspective for transportation improvements across the state. Thus, Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility was arranged as a two-week itinerary that featured 11 focus group discussions, three master classes, a lecture, a symposium and dialogues with MPPP, MPSP and the Penang Transport Council. (See Mission Statement at https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/the-mission/ for details.)
We are glad to bring you the first volume of the full set of reports that constitute the winning SRS “GAME-CHANGER FOR PENANG” proposal in response to the state government’s RFP for the “South Reclamation Scheme” (well-chosen word).
These reports have not been shared by the winning consultant or state government with the people of Penang, though they have been requested on numerous occasions and constitute essential reading if the public is to understand the proposed and greatly revised plan that came out of this successful RFP and indeed “Game Changer”.
While Penang is thinking once again about its transportation arrangements, we are hearing a lot of late about BRT and tramways — and rightfully. Both a huge improvement over earlier proposals for a mad spaghetti mix of intrusive monorails, elevated LRT/LRV systems, Sky Cabs hanging uselessly in the horizon, over-built road infrastructure projects to serve and encourage yet more car traffic, and a backbreaking proposal for a sea tunnel that would bring yet more traffic into the island and in the process extend and multiply today’s traffic mess and associated inconveniencies
But before we make up our minds let’s also give a thought to another less well known mobility option, the Mobilien. It may be just what you were looking for.
As an old friend to Penang with a couple of decades of policy experience in sustainable transport and sustainable cities field in different parts of the world, I am trying to put to rest the latest STMP proposal to build not one, not two but THREE free-standing monorails as part of the long-term master plan. To set the stage for today’s closing piece, I would draw your attention first to two pretty definitive Op-Ed pieces on monorails posted here in the last day, which you will find at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-tg (Part I) and http://wp.me/p3GVVk-tm (Part II)
Building on that – and in the hope of burying monorail mania once and for all in Penang — let me offer a closing short strategic commentary on monorails and more generally in situations where high capacity carriers are called for to take pressure off the existing transport infrastructure.
Note to the reader: This article as been cobbled together very quickly in order to complete the three part series on monorails for Penang. It will be the object of further thought, editing, and possibly new materials in the weeks ahead.