GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s first light rail transit (LRT) system is set to extend to the suburbs of Tanjung Bungah, 6km beyond the initially planned endpoint of Komtar.
Transport minister Loke Siew Fook told a press conference here that a public feedback exercise regarding the extension would be conducted before construction began.
Loke said the government aimed to kickstart the 27-station project this year, with MRT Corp serving as the lead agency.
The project is targeted to be completed in five years.
He said the LRT line would commence from the Penang International Airport in the south of the island and extend 29km northwards to Tanjung Bungah.
“MRT Corp believes that extending the line to Tanjung Bungah is necessary,” said Loke.
“The Komtar station will continue to be one of the most important stations and will be located near Sia Boey.”
He said the line would be elevated and built on road reserves to minimise land acquisition.
“The cost of the project will be determined and presented to the finance minister and tenders will be called.
“The federal government will oversee the project.
“As for financing, there are various options such as allocations from development expenditure or issuing MRT Corp bonds. The finance ministry will make the final decision,” he said.
Loke also revealed that future phases might see LRT lines connecting Butterworth and Kepala Batas.
The extension from Komtar to Tanjung Bungah became possible by omitting the 10 stations planned for the earlier proposed three reclaimed islands, which had been reduced to a single island, a state official said.
In the earlier proposed plan, the state government envisioned a 26.8km LRT line with 23 stations, costing nearly RM10 billion.
It was intended to be funded through the sale of the three reclaimed islands.
However, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced that the government would provide “additional funds” for the project in exchange for scaling down the reclaimed islands project.
Penang subsequently agreed to reclaim only one island.