WHY SPEND A BILLION DOLLARS IF A FIVE-MILLION DOLLAR SOLUTION IS BETTER OVERALL?

Canada Malahat Highway congestion traffic

A LESSON FOR PENANG

The great weakness of the local political establishment to Penang’s transport planning  and policy needs is that they have insufficient technical backgrounds and knowledge to solve the mobility problems the people of Penang . This was made clear by the final Halcrow report in 2013 and nothing has been done since to improve the situation.

There are other more effective approaches to dealing with these problems with a strategy of affordable policies, measures and tools capable of giving swift results and a fraction of the costs of the proposed massive infrastructure program, the PTMP.

Let’s have a look at the Canadian report “Rethinking Malahat Solutions: Or, Why Spend a Billion Dollars if a Five-Million Dollar Solution is Better Overall?” at www.vtpi.org/malahat.pdf

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TDM – A World Streets Primer

TDM HOV lane

Since TDM (Transportation Demand Management) is a key pillar of the New Mobility Agenda strategy, and of our now forming-up Five Percent Challenge Climate Emergency program, it is important that the basic distinctions are clear for all.  In one of our recent master classes, when several students asked me to clarify for them, I turned the tables instead and asked them, since we are now firmly in the 21st century, to go home, spend a bit of time online and come up with something that answered their question to their satisfaction.  Here is what they came up with, taken whole hog from http://bit.ly/2rTxHrr (which we then lightly edited together and offer for your reading pleasure).

Quick-start references:

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Kaohsiung Accomplishments And Technical Competence Deficits In Penang

Comment from Yueh Kwong Leong in today’s WhatsApp S/P  exchanges: “Kaohsiung in Taiwan was considered the most polluted industrial city in Asian. It is today considered as one of the most green city in Asia.”

Penang Halcrow Insitutionnal Plan report cover top halfKaohsiung, yes! Good example.

For the record, we have been strategically involved in the Kaohsiung transition process in the transport sector since 2009. Among that city’s great accomplishments have been an important capacity building effort over the last decade, both within the various local government offices, but also because Taiwan has developed world level technical, planning and policy capabilities and a professional/university network that puts the necessary expertise at the fingertips of local government. These networks of competence are important factors in the advances being made not only in Kaohsiung but also a number of other cities in Taiwan.  (Cities compete!)

As far as I am concerned this is THE GREAT WEAK POINT in your capabilities in Penang today – and the general chaos that has surrounded the so-called PTMP has in large part due to these persistent technical competence deficits.

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RETHINKING NEW MOBILITY IN PENANG: The search for Values, Vision, Competence, Strategies, Tactics . . and Happiness.

malaysia Penang trishaw sleeping driver

Introduction.

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/, .

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CLUES FOR PENANG’S NEW MOBILITY TRANSITION STRATEGY

australia nsw open data project cartoon

OPEN DATA BLOG / INNOVATION

Transport Open Data and the convenience revolution
– NSW Government, Australia

This gives an indication of the level of competence and foresight that is needed to come up with a viable “Sustainable Transport Master Plan” worthy of the name for Penang.
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41 Measures to Manage Traffic Congestion in Penang

New Zealand - Auckland - rush hour traffic

COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS: REVIEW OF URBAN CONGESTION

TRENDS, IMPACTS AND SOLUTIONS

Study of Successful Congestion Management Approaches and the Role of Charging, Taxes,
Levies and Infrastructure and Service Pricing in Travel Demand Management

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BETTER CHOICES: MAKING THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE CASE FOR THE PTMP

View of a meeting of highest echelon of state government members of PTMP ream, with selected PDP partners: the SRS Consortium.

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:

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ON TRANSPORT PLANNING, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND TECHNICAL COMPETENCES IN PENANG (View and make up your own mind)

Please invert for better understanding

 

The incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary. 

Oops. This harsh charge has been leveled on an increasing number of occasions by people and groups across and beyond Penang who are highly dissatisfied with the  competence,  appropriateness and huge cost of the on-going “Penang Transport Master Plan”  and related infrastructure projects and measures.  Is there any validity to this charge, or is it just a case of political quibbling?  Let’s take a step back and have a look.

How competent is the PTMP and the team behind it?

A 16 November 2018 Battle of Ideas Google Survey reports more than 21,000 background references expressing different points of view of the competence, the need for further skills upgrading at all levels of the planning process,  and specific recommendations of the much-contested, long-pending and greatly behind-schedule Penang Transport Master Plan.

We invite you to have a good look at the results of this search at http://bit.ly/2zbJm9b and make up your own mind on the subject. You will find additional information on the subject in the Working Brief postings here at https://wp.me/p3GVVk-mb

LATEST NEWS: PRESS AND SOCIAL MEDIA:

* Click here — http://bit.ly/2zbQUJ2

Penang MP Poster 1

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

Abundant valuable background and perspective on this topic of the importance for upgrading technical and institutional competence at all levels of the state and local government can be found in the eight volume report and recommendations of the highly respected international transport consultancy, Halcrow, — https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B41h-Am2TpUHdVVrZ0NiVGxNUlE?tid=0B41h-Am2TpUHT25JRXlzQ1dxZE0 —

Specifically on the issue of capacity building, the substantial chapter 8.3 on Institutional Strengthening from the final Halcrow report of 13 March 2013 under the title “The Recommended Transport Master Plan Strategy — is strongly recommended as an expert view from an independent and qualified source.

TIMELINE

Penang Alt MP - 7

Finally to fully understand the cycle of main events that took place from the beginning of  and defined the PTMP proposal, we would draw your attention to the following humorous (but accurate) three minute summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B9o1baUaP8

Penang 3 minue video on PTMP

CONCLUSION

The individuals behind the Penang Master Plan are good, well educated and caring people.  But they have the wrong skills in this case.

The present plan and process is seriously flawed. The importance of skills and competence upgrading at all levels of the planning, policy and implementation process  cannot be exaggerated. And ever evidence points to the fact that this critical upgrading and education process is being ignored as the key actors continue to believe that the key to cutting road congestion and emissions lies in further infrastructure capacity expansion and not in TDM – Transport Demand Management — as the leading edge of expertise and performance have understood for more than a generation. Penang needs to catch up!

COMMENTS

Your comments, criticism and eventual further references and conclusions are most welcome. You might wish to note them here, or address them by email direct to penang@ecoplan.org. Or by direct video-conference to the Skype address: newmobility.

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About the author: 

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 | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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Op-Ed. ON TRAMS AND MONORAILS, AND LRT AND BRT, AND SKYCABS AND BRIDGES AND UNDERWATER TUNNELS, AND ALL THOSE SHINY BITS OF EXTORTIANATE “GAME-CHANGER” TECHNOLOGY THAT . . .

Penang monorail 2
. . .  will, believe me, most demonstrably not solve the twin problems of (a) congestion (i.e., too many cars )plus (b) insufficient alternatives including safe, affordable and convenient public, shared and active transport.
The trick, dear friends, is not to get into a heated conversation with the other side about this or that bit of technology. Because our good friends over there have utterly failed to do the necessary homework. They are proposing solutions without having carried out the necessary strategic analysis. Which is quite simply because they have insufficient competence in the field of sustainable transport, and its principal subset in this case, namely TDM -that is Transport Demand Management. As Halcrow has abundantly pointed out.). And which is what this whole Penang Challenge is all about.

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