PTMP: A question of financing and changing mindsets

This article deals with the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). No one is going to readily invest in Penang if they face traffic jams on a daily basis as soon as they step into the island.

However, whether the current model is best is still up for debate. The latest news is that Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says that IF the state’s current proposal for the PTMP is rejected, then the federal government will be responsible to come out with an alternative model.

A local daily reported Chow as saying, “The federal government is responsible regardless of whether it accepts or rejects the state’s recommendation. If they accept, they will have to find the funds to support the project, and if they reject, they will have to suggest an alternative model to alleviate the traffic congestion in Penang.”

In another article, Chow said Penang would consider abandoning its present plan to reclaim land off Bayan Lepas if the federal government was willing to help fund the project.

So, the issue is about the financing for the Penang Transport Master Plan.

Chow said Penang urgently needed a proper traffic dispersal system to address the highly congested roads, a condition that would worsen in the future since most people will continue to drive, even if there are plans to build an LRT.

The LRT would be convenient perhaps on weekdays and for work but may not be ideal during weekends. People need time to adjust. Just look at the MRT. It’s popularity is only slowly building up.

Chow asked for the go-ahead on the PAN Island Link 1 highway (PAN 1) which is a core ingredient of the comprehensive master plan.

Besides this, there is also the proposed RM6 billion cross-channel undersea tunnel and the light rail transit system which connects George Town to the international airport in Bayan Lepas.

By the way, beyond just whether or not the plans will go ahead, the government needs to have the right policies in place to support the switch from driving to taking public transport.

A short survey among 10 Penangites showed the majority were not willing to take public transport if they needed to walk for around 200-400 metres.

Therefore, the right policies would include unlimited monthly passes, increasing parking rates at places where there is public transport, putting up even more tolls, and perhaps removing fuel subsidies or limiting it to a certain amount per month.

Not all these will be popular but do we really have a choice?

This article first appeared in

Charles Tan blogs at property investment site kopiandproperty. He dislikes property speculators and disagrees that renting is better than buying. He thinks it’s either property or poverty. He is presently the CEO of an auction house auctioning assets beyond just properties.