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Traffic and Urban Issues in Penang By S P Choong. Coordinator STEP and CEPAT Traffic and Urban Issues in Penang By S P Choong. Coordinator STEP and CEPAT People’s Forum, 13 April 2008. Disted College Penang.

1. Background. n n Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang (STEP) is a people’s movement, 1. Background. n n Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang (STEP) is a people’s movement, an outcome of the SPI project implemented by SERI (1997 -1999). Series of roundtable dialogues w many NGO’s and cultural groups to identify the factors for Sustainable Development in Penang. 1997 -1999.

2. STEP to CEPAT n n n Inertia of the Government. authorities forced STEP 2. STEP to CEPAT n n n Inertia of the Government. authorities forced STEP to build a stronger and more aggressive coalition CEPAT consisted of 25 NGO’s sharing same concerns in 2005 Working with Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan as Ex-Co in charge of Traffic management over 8 years. Facing the same issues over and over again. See latest bus crisis in Komtar and CVLB’s reply

2 a. Strategy Change n n In December 2005, a Strategy Change, STEP together 2 a. Strategy Change n n In December 2005, a Strategy Change, STEP together with CAP, SAM, MNS, Aliran and others became CEPAT (coalition of 25 NGO’s). Stopped closed door dialogue w Govt. Switch to public debate, demands and threats of legal action.

3. Interview by SERI on Transport Issues 2005. n What are the issues and 3. Interview by SERI on Transport Issues 2005. n What are the issues and challenges faced by the state / traffic planners regarding the public transportation ? n What are the solutions proposed?

4. The Causes n n Why the horrendous traffic congestion today? Long term failure 4. The Causes n n Why the horrendous traffic congestion today? Long term failure of Govt’s transport policies and their implementation by agencies e. g. CVLB, JPJ, Puspakom. Promoting cars and neglecting public transport; favouring corporate cronies. Above all we need a competent State Transport Authority; not a federal board.

5. Changing Peoples' Mindset n We are Car dependant citizens. We buy and maintain 5. Changing Peoples' Mindset n We are Car dependant citizens. We buy and maintain private motor vehicles as a necessity, despite the cost. n Are we to blame? n n

6. Our Planning Culture n n n MPPP’s town planning culture has been based 6. Our Planning Culture n n n MPPP’s town planning culture has been based on the lack of good public transport. Road widening, creating one way streets and more on-street car parking for cars. Our car-dependant population is created by a pro-car urban environment A result of bad planning.

7. Examples. n n n Road widening, more on-street parking results in Less roadside 7. Examples. n n n Road widening, more on-street parking results in Less roadside greenery (for shade) Less space for pedestrian pavements (often none) One-way systems speeds up traffic; bad for pedestrians crossing, often dangerous. Loss of safe cycling space.

8. Present Realities. n n Penang has highest vehicle per capita in Malaysia. MV 8. Present Realities. n n Penang has highest vehicle per capita in Malaysia. MV Growth estimated as over 10% /yr over the last 10 years. But Govt. has had no comprehensive policies on traffic management. State Transport authority should do this.

9. Financial Implications. n n n The Govt considers public transport (PT) as a 9. Financial Implications. n n n The Govt considers public transport (PT) as a profitable private sector service, long outdated. Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB), put under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives is a gross anomaly. (should be the Ministry of Transport). Both the are deliberately, grossly incompetent!

9 a Health Implications. n n Noise and Air Pollution are obvious hazards to 9 a Health Implications. n n Noise and Air Pollution are obvious hazards to health. Difficult to calculate health care costs. High lead content and brain damage in children (WHO criteria). Respiratory problems in asthmatics. .

10. Cheaper to encourage cars? ? n n Costs of sustaining infrastructure for increasing 10. Cheaper to encourage cars? ? n n Costs of sustaining infrastructure for increasing private MV traffic far outweigh that of subsidizing PT eg road widening, new highways and their maintenance, PORR, a waste of money, an enviromental disaster. Now even higher petrol subsidies by Govt. running into billions.

11. An Essential Public Service n n Not a profit making enterprise. PT is 11. An Essential Public Service n n Not a profit making enterprise. PT is an essential public service, requiring appropriate subsidies to be efficient. (like services in healthcare and education). A principle accepted by all transport consultants Decisions long overdue: n n a) Govt taking over of the assets of PT systems in KL; b) Setting up Rapid Penang with the financial backing of the Ministry of Finance; .

12. CEPAT Proposed Remedial Actions, n n Proposals already made to BN state Government 12. CEPAT Proposed Remedial Actions, n n Proposals already made to BN state Government since 1999. Now over to YB Chow Kon Yeow, Ex-Co in charge of Traffic, Local Government and the Environment!

13. A Pro PT Traffic Environment n n Address obstacles to efficient PT system 13. A Pro PT Traffic Environment n n Address obstacles to efficient PT system Solve traffic bottlenecks along the routes, more enforcement!!. Sacrifice on-street parking space for dedicated bus lanes. Ensure punctuality, essential in promoting switch in transport modes, a key indicator to success.

13 a Alternative Non-motorized Modes. n n Bicycles and Trishaws should be encouraged. Remember, 13 a Alternative Non-motorized Modes. n n Bicycles and Trishaws should be encouraged. Remember, all the senior citizens in the audience, do you recall cycling to school daily. Why did we stop? Create cycle lanes and parking facilities. Improve pedestrian walkways w more tree planting for shade.

14. Commuter Shift from Private to Public Transport n n n Coordinated efforts needed 14. Commuter Shift from Private to Public Transport n n n Coordinated efforts needed from the traffic planners, enforcement agencies and the bus operators to ensure that PT efficiency is given top priority. In Penang, less than 10% of our commuters using buses. In many developed countries, where the car ownership is equally high, PT share is 60 - 70%.

15. Incentives and promotion of PT. n n n Publicity and promotion needed as 15. Incentives and promotion of PT. n n n Publicity and promotion needed as in other commercial services. Better maps, signage, better designed bus stops. GPS systems to predict schedules.

16. Corporate Incentives. n n n Government Incentives. Tax breaks to employers for supporting 16. Corporate Incentives. n n n Government Incentives. Tax breaks to employers for supporting PT, for employers who subsidise their staff on PT fares? Civil Servants already have allowances for car parking, should this be converted into a PT subsidy?

17. Disincentives to private car users by MPPP n n Reduce on-street parking bays, 17. Disincentives to private car users by MPPP n n Reduce on-street parking bays, raise rates, (ridiculously low in Penang) use extra FUNDS to improve PT? Stricter enforcement on all illegal parking, Eliminate one-way streets and introduce traffic calming eg cobblestones, road bumps etc. Create Car free zones closed to private motor traffic except for PT and non-motorised vehicles

18. Planning and Infrastructure. n n Improve accessibility / comfort of the bus stops, 18. Planning and Infrastructure. n n Improve accessibility / comfort of the bus stops, Plan ‘park and ride’ stations outside of CBD, Pedestrian access that’s both safe and comfortable to elderly and disabled. Problems: n n a) pedestrian pavements narrowed for road widening, blocked by illegal vehicle parking, hawkers etc. b) Faster traffic on one way systems dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Now: Rapid. Penang n n Rapid. Penang is only the first step towards solving Now: Rapid. Penang n n Rapid. Penang is only the first step towards solving our traffic problems here; other factors need to be addressed. Careful planning and inter-agency coordination needed. Poor coordination repeatedly used as excuses before: CVLB, JPJ and Puspakom in Collusion? ? CEPAT proposes sack the CVLB chief!

21. From Economic perspective Investment and Tourism. n n n Efficient PT is one 21. From Economic perspective Investment and Tourism. n n n Efficient PT is one of the key factors in evaluating the quality of the urban environment. Asiaweek did surveys on the ‘Liveability Index’ for the business community. Penang rated top 5 in 1996; subsequently falling due to traffic problems.

21 a The UNESCO Heritage Listing. n n n Listing as a World Heritage 21 a The UNESCO Heritage Listing. n n n Listing as a World Heritage Site, an important factor in helping economic development in inner city. Our Heritage Management Plan must include proposals to address the traffic problem to be All these Factors attract foreign investors as well as tourist arrivals.

21 b Better Property values n n n Especially in the heritage inner city, 21 b Better Property values n n n Especially in the heritage inner city, plagued by traffic noise and pollution. Can they become desirable up market residential and commercial spaces after traffic problem is solved? Look at prices of properties in the old inner city areas of Singapore like Emerald Hill.

22. From Social Equity perspective, n n n PT is not a poor man’s 22. From Social Equity perspective, n n n PT is not a poor man’s facility To establish the environment for a good PT system, More private car owners must get off streets , even those w Mercedes and BMW’s. Across the causeway, professionals and CEO’s commute to work on PT. A challenge to our new CM and Ex-Co do the same?

22. Caring Society? n n n Consider special groups. Elderly, less affluent mothers with 22. Caring Society? n n n Consider special groups. Elderly, less affluent mothers with children, the disabled who are permanently marginalized if they cannot use private motor vehicles. Govt supports training for people with various disabilities and single mothers to acquire marketable skills. Without PT access they are simply housebound, cannot do their chores nor go out to work!

With YAB Lim Guan Eng and YB Chow, another chance? n Will things will With YAB Lim Guan Eng and YB Chow, another chance? n Will things will change in time for me to get around George Town safely and comfortably when I shall be going around in my wheel chair? Where there’s Life there’s Hope, they Say! n Thank you for your attention! n