GEORGE TOWN: The multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) is not designed to benefit “elites with cars”, the state government said.
State local government, traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the claim of “violation of social equity” or “benefitting social elites” did not arise.
He said the PTMP took a balanced approach in planning public transport and highway improvements, in line with the state government’s vision of a 60:40 (private transport: public transport) split by the year 2030.
“Public transport like the elevated LRT (light rail transit) and monorail should be made affordable for everyone,” he said, adding however, the state could not only focus on public transport and not improve connectivity with roads.
“Highways are still required to cater for the 60% by the year 2030. The 40% share cannot be achieved overnight, as the public needs to be encouraged progressively.
“The public still rely on roads for daily commute while rail transport is being constructed in phases,” he said.
Chow said the PTMP placed equal emphasis on rail public transport and highways – with 151km of planned public transport encompassing LRT, monorail, BRT (bus rapid transit) and tram; compared with only 72km of strategic bypasses.
With roads and highways forming the basis of a city’s transport system, Chow also said roads crippled by congestion would badly affect the economy and investors’ perception of the state.
Chow was answering issues raised by PTMP critic Roger Teoh, a PhD student in transport studies at the Imperial College in London who had written several articles questioning the master plan’s highway projects.
Teoh announced his resignation from DAP after his views on the PTMP were not entertained last month but has since returned to DAP after been assured of “direct access” to top state leaders to air his views.
The PTMP is being funded by the state through another ambitious plan to build three man-made islands off the southern coast of Penang island. The islands would then be auctioned off by the state to raise money to fund the PTMP.
On Teoh’s doubts over the 300,000 population forecast for the three islands, Chow said the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) was a long-term masterplan development to be carried out in the next 50 years.
“Ongoing urban planning and population projection review for the PSR is being carried out by the JPBD (Town and Country Planning Department) based on a masterplan land use that is viable, economical and supports the required infrastructure development cost.
“The estimated population is based on projected average future household size to ensure a realistic future PSR population,” he said.
The population forecast of over 367,000 for the three islands was calculated by estimating that 111,327 houses would be built on the three islands, and the average household size in each house would be 3.3 by 2030.