4 Ways To Deal With Penang Traffic Before Psi


From Andrew Lee
We finally have an update that the Penang South Islands (PSI) project could start in the third quarter of 2023. But we will still need to wait until 2025 for at least half of Island A to be ready.
As a result, the Bayan Lepas LRT and Pan Island Link (which are part of the Penang Transport Master Plan) will probably take decades more to be completed after the arduous process of approvals, objections and lack of funds are settled.
Traffic on Penang Island would probably come to a standstill by then and it might be faster to cross Penang Bridge on foot, just like the Singapore Causeway.
To avoid such a scenario, I have a few suggestions that I hope the Penang government and Prasarana (Rapid Penang) would take note of.
First, you need to create bus routes for the Bayan Lepas industrial zone. Bayan Lepas, Bayan Baru, Relau, Sungai Ara, Bukit Jambul and the adjacent areas are mature townships.
These areas boast multiple high-rise condominiums and housing areas. They are also among the most congested areas on the island, especially during peak hours, due to the proximity to the Bayan Lepas industrial zone.
All the housing areas lack proper bus stops or routes to serve these areas of high population density and the industrial zone.
There are other indirect bus routes serving trunk roads, but you will always notice that these buses are usually almost empty, even the double-decker bus or the Bridge CAT bus.
There needs to be an effort to create bus routes to reduce the number of private vehicles choking the roadways of these industrial areas.
To fund these bus routes, a portion of the profits gained from the industrial area could be allocated to subsidise the service.
Second, there needs to be rapid expansion of proper pedestrian and cycling paths as an alternative for residents. As of now, residents use the coastal cycling path mostly for recreational use rather than as a route to get to work.
To complement this, road engineering needs to be done to slow down vehicles at road crossings to create a safer space for pedestrians or cyclists.
Automated enforcement is also needed to ensure these routes are not misused by motorcyclists.
If other countries, especially in Europe, can commit to creating pedestrian spaces, why can’t Penang lead the way for Malaysia?
Third, instead of prioritising the Bayan Lepas LRT, the proposed George Town-Butterworth transit line should be given top priority instead.
Like the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS), this transit line could help ease the constantly choked Penang Bridge.
As the proposed line is connected to Penang Sentral, it is an alternative for commuters coming from the south of the island rather than the ferry.
Additionally, as a shopping mall at The Light (the terminus of the line on Penang Island) is being built, it would be a perfect opportunity to practise proper transit-oriented development, as is practised in many countries that get public transport right.
The area would also need a proper bus terminal to make connectivity even better.
Last, there is a need to review high-rise projects and the public infrastructure in place.
Many times, residents would indiscriminately park along the nearby roads, wasting all the money used to upgrade current roads and build new roads to ease traffic flow.
It is even worse when there are multiple high-rise projects clustered together in a small area. This multiplies the negative traffic impact.
With Penang seeing lots of high-rise projects in recent years, the skyline of Penang is being affected by each project trying to outdo the other, especially in population density.
There is also no consideration by the developers to include public transport in their plans for the township. Has the state government or city council turned a blind eye to this matter?
I believe that these suggestions will cost much less and can also be executed faster than the island reclamation project and the Bayan Lepas LRT project.
I hope the authorities would take note of the suggestions above and possibly have town hall meetings with residents to get feedback on how to improve the congestion issue on Penang Island in a more holistic manner. - FMT
Andrew Lee is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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