Why such deviation from the Halcrow Plan?
The Halcrow Plan made reference to a number of items required to deliver a 'holistic approach to resolving transportation issues', many of which no longer appear to be being discussed. These items, do not appear to be part of the current contract holders’ scope of works and do not appear to have any funding reserved from the proposed land reclamation.
Why did the state not implement any of the Halcrow short term strategies?
These following short term strategies were to be completed between 2012 and 2015:
Public Transport Pilot Schemes > Re-organise Bus Services in Air Itam Corridor;
Traffic Signal Operations Improvement Sub-Strategy;
Highway Enforcement Sub-Strategy;
Road Safety Improvement Sub-Strategy;
Highway Directional Signing Sub-Strategy.
What happened to the Highway Improvement Plan?
The Halcrow Highway Improvement Plan included almost RM7bn worth of highway improvements to address issues of highway functionality and highway standards. Modifications were proposed to highway intersections, traffic signal operations, direction signing strategies, regulation and enforcement, in order to develop an effective, functioning highway network with roads that are safe and user friendly for all. These improvements are critical for ensuring accessibility, so that pedestrians can cross the roads safely and access bus stops and other public transport. First and last mile connectivity is required for successful public transportation. These critical improvements are apparently no longer costed and are no longer discussed.
What happened to the Traffic Reduction Strategy?
In 2010, Penang had a 3% public transport modal share, with 97% of trips made by private transport. This is the cause of our congestion, therefore the ambition is to move towards a 40%/60% public/private transport modal split by 2030. However, the Zenith-BUCG and the SRS proposals are unlikely to achieve this because they give priority to building roads rather than public transport. On the island, the LRT line is slated for completion in 2022 and the monorails in 2030. On the mainland, there is no schedule stated for public transport development.
Furthermore, providing better public transport facilities alone is not sufficient for reducing traffic congestion. We also need measures to discourage private transport at the same time. Both Halcrow and SRS agree with this, but only Halcrow recommended measures for reducing private transport.
For a public transport system to succeed, you need both pull and the push factors. Providing convenient, punctual, frequent, affordable, accessible and well-connected public transport system alone will not do. The government must have the political will to implement push factor measures to discourage the use of private vehicles, such as higher parking charges, restricting parking spaces, and road congestion charges as advised by Halcrow. One without the other will not succeed in reducing traffic.
What happened to the funding for pedestrian & cycling infrastructure, water transport, feeder buses and taxis?
The Halcrow Plan budgeted allocations for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, water transit (RM800m), feeder buses, school buses, factory buses, taxis, and park & ride facilities. The original RM27bn budget proposed by Halcrow had everything in it, however the budget proposed by SRS has now ballooned. SRS proposes massive infrastructure projects, without funding for the necessary elements that contribute to a holistic transportation system. How is this approach going to ensure a paradigm shift towards “moving people not cars”, ensuring accessibility to public transport and integration between transport systems? From the Halcrow Plan to the SRS proposal, something has gone terribly wrong.