I read Yoga Adiwinarto’s suggestions in an article titled “How Penang should improve its mobility” published by Free Malaysia Today on Jan 20.
I agree with many of his suggestions as it coheres with much of what is already happening here.
For example, his advice that Penang “should start by investing in pedestrian facilities as well as cycling infrastructure,” reflects what the local councils and state government have already been doing for years.
Back in 2014, the state government launched a RM30 million bicycle lane project. Two years ago, through a partnership with the private sector, the bicycle-sharing services LinkBike was started, with 250 bicycles achieving up to 3,500 ridership per month.
The state government has recently initiated a RM40 million Ecodeck project to build lanes that measure 3.5m in width, with 2m and 1.5m designated for bicycles and pedestrians respectively. The current 180 km cycling lane in Penang will be further expanded to 200 km.
In terms of a pedestrian walkway, it is estimated that there is 80% pedestrian infrastructure in the city centre. In 2017, the local council allocated RM2.5 million for 14 walkway improvement projects, with another RM2.4 million for a collaboration with Think City to build pedestrian-friendly public space.
Besides these projects, the local government is working on two business improvement district schemes (BIDS) to expand walkability in the surrounding areas of Komtar and the nearby “seven-street district.”
In addition to these, a 50 km coastal park and 65 km cycling lane are in the pipeline.
There is, of course, still much to be done in the city, not least in the suburbs. The point is, local authorities are already working on them. His suggestions show that they are on the right track.
With regards to the “BRT vs LRT” debate, he has rightly noted that “the development of LRT, tram and BRT should go hand in hand and well integrated with the improvement of the Rapid Penang bus system.”
I wholeheartedly agree with him on this. Others and I have highlighted this matter many a time for many months, through official and informal channels. The state government also shares this multidimensional approach.
A local group that needs to hear this from him is ‘Penang Forum’.
They have been lobbying against this integrated plan by opposing the LRT plan in favour of a BRT or tram system. I believe he is acquainted with them and should share his thoughts with them if he has not.
As for the Penang Transport Master Plan, the state government would require BRT-experts like him to advise on the BRT plan on the mainland.
Till then, I wish him the best in his BRT business in Jakarta and this region.
Joshua Woo is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.