My Penangite friends said, the jam is becoming worst in Penang! I think, not yet. However, it has deteriorated significantly if compared to when I first arrived in Penang to work in 1998. At that time, even the town areas are ok and I can be in Tanjung Bungah within less than 30 minutes, most of the time, from town. Today, I dare not say so. Sometimes, it may be one hour or more. During peak hours, if you are trying to cross the bridge, I think it would best that you have your meal first. Yes, there’s the second bridge but if you are from town, trying to go to Ipoh, it is impossible for you to use the second bridge right? Anyway, jams in Penang are still nowhere near to KL type of jams as at now. However, be reminded that as soon the jams in Penang become worse, it will be worst very much faster compared to KL. Reason? KL still have public transport and with MRT coming up, it does seem rosier within a few years’ time.
Today, in the state legislative assembly sitting, in his opening speech, the governor of Penang called on Putrajaya to approve the state’s application for tram and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems. This is because, Penang needs better public transport to resolve the growing traffic congestion. He said, ‘Putrajaya needs to show a clear commitment to assist the state in implementing these systems by either funding these systems or allowing the state to run these systems on its own,”. He said that the state has also applied to the federal government for licences to run the tram, LRT or other types of public transportation systems together with the private sector.
Personally, LRT is better than tram, by far. Please, if the state government really wants to proceed, LRT should be the way and not tram. However, it’s always chicken and egg situation. Should you force more people to use the existing public transport first or build it first. Reason being, the current parking fees are still low and even the mindset is that, only the poor uses the public transport. ‘If I am a senior executive or higher, I am not going to be sandwiched like a sardine during peak hours.’ I prefer to drive. 2 years ago, in my previous company, I told my staffs during a heavy jam in Georgetown. The state should increase the parking fees, especially during weekdays and also if the parking spaces are nearby a bus stop. This is because if they can park there, they should also be able to take a bus there. You may think I am joking but fyi, this is how a lot of countries in the world control the car population. In Hong Kong, a car park can be RM1,500 per month or higher. In Singapore, it’s even worse, everywhere you go in the CBD area, you will pay, pay and pay and all HDB flats do not come with any car parks.
The state is on the right track, with car free days on certain roads, just continue this to include more and more roads. Then, increase the parking fees and issue summons to any cars which are parked haphazardly. With a LRT system many years away even if approved and tens of thousands of news cars being sold every year, Penang better has something up its sleeve and implement it quickly. Please do not go for trams. Think on a much longer term. If trams work and it is so called ‘less pollution’ option, majority of all the cities in the world are already on trams. They are not.
written on 20 May 2014
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