Better, Cheaper, Faster
Returning to first principles, Penang can adopt a holistic and balanced approach to resolving its transportation issues, adopting a paradigm shift towards “moving people not cars”. This can be done with a less expensive public transport system of modern trams, supplemented with Bus Rapid Transit.
Halcrow, a transport consultancy, very clearly recommended a modern tram-based public transportation system, sections of which will need to be elevated. Starting from scratch, we have an opportunity to develop a single integrated system. SRS proposals for four different systems – LRT, monorail, tram and bus rapid transit – will be more difficult and more costly to coordinate, maintain & upgrade. Seamless connectivity will be difficult to achieve and an incremental approach would be difficult to adopt.
Modern-generation trams & Bus Rapid Transit
When we talk of trams, many Penangites think of the old trams that ran along the roads of Penang (which actually served our transportation needs very well in their day), and hence may think trams are unsuitable for modern day needs. When we talk about Bus Rapid Transit, many people have negative stereotypes of bus travel.
However, the modern generation of trams and buses have improved greatly. Modern trams can match the carrying capacity and speed of LRT and monorail. Also, a modern tram running on a grass-capped track is no louder than a car. Trams are also less intrusive, aesthetically and visually more pleasing.