GEORGE TOWN: A local authority in Penang has proposed a new rail line to connect Butterworth to the upcoming Kulim airport in the east as part of its proposed 2030 town planning blueprint revealed today for public feedback.
The proposed rail line will connect Penang Sentral, Butterworth’s transport hub, with stops in Bukit Mertajam and Kulim and going northward to the Kulim airport near Sidam Kiri, the draft 2030 Seberang Perai local plan revealed by the city council (MBSP) showed.
Also proposed as part of the plan are four new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines, which will offer airport transfers from Penang Sentral to the Kulim airport.
The proposed development of Kulim airport as outlined in the plan may deal a major blow to the present international airport at Bayan Lepas on Penang island.
Included in the plan is the construction of an LRT line to run parallel with the Penang Bridge from Jelutong and terminating at Penang Sentral.
In her presentation on the plan today, town planning consultant Norliza Hashim also revealed that new ferry services are expected to be introduced from the island to the mainland.
Two new ferry terminals are expected to be built at Queensbay in Bayan Lepas and another at “Gurney Quay”, which is expected to be located at the Gurney Wharf area. The fast ferries will take passengers to Penang Sentral.
Thirteen new bus lines are expected to be introduced by 2030 as well, with an average wait time of 15 to 20 minutes. More feeder buses and “park and ride” facilities are also expected to be expanded and built.
Three new development hubs will also be introduced — Greater Butterworth; Kepala Batas-Bertam; and Bandar Cassia-Simpang Ampat, where high-tech parks, logistics hubs and transit-oriented development are expected to be situated.
These growth areas are subject to new housing density rules ranging from six units per acre to 60 units per acre, depending on the area.
The council also announced “20-minute cities”, where one can shuttle between major towns on the mainland through public transport and find important services and facilities within the same commute time.
Norliza said Seberang Perai’s existing 16 industrial areas will be upgraded, while seven new industrial parks are expected to be opened to cater to demand.
A total of 2,511ha of land has been earmarked for this purpose.
To capitalise on the expected boom in light industries and the demand for lorry depots by the logistics sector, a total of 214ha will be set aside for these economic activities.
A major legalisation and “relocation” effort is also expected to take place, affecting illegal factories operating in 355ha of Seberang Perai. New factories are expected to operate within zoned areas.
Other new zoning categories will also be introduced: water bodies, agriculture, and for the first time, “jelapang padi negara” or a national rice bowl, to mark specific areas for padi farming.
There are currently 12,782ha of padi farms in Seberang Perai and more areas will be zoned for agricultural and padi farming purposes so as to provide food security.
Mangrove areas off Penaga will be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve with a Ramsar site, along with other forests in Bukit Mertajam and the firefly zone at Sungai Kerian.