Monday, April 26, 2010

Congestion pricing could be extended to Penang

Sunday April 25, 2010 - The Star Online

THE LPT Bill, if enacted, will not be restricted to Kuala Lumpur. It also provides the authority to implement ACP in any city in the country so there is a probability it could even be introduced in Penang.

However, Penang-based Citizens for Public Transport (Cepat) is against the idea.

Says Cepat co-ordinator and member of the Penang State Transport Council Dr Choong Sim Poey: “It may mean setting up a complicated system of gates to monitor movement of cars in and out of these zones.”

He says it could be expensive to implement and would not be successful if it was.

“We can’t even prevent illegal parking in front of police stations, for example in Penang Road or Burmah Road, so how can we monitor illegal entry?” he questions.

He believes congested areas can be cleared – simply by moving illegally-parked vehicles off the road. He also suggests reducing on-street parking, and raising the parking fees and a strong public transport improvement campaign as alternative measures.

“No extra equipment or infrastructure is needed, just political will. Cepat proposed this years ago, and we are waiting to see what progress the state Government can achieve,” says Dr Choong.

Similarly, social activist and blogger Anil Netto is against ACP.

“Much can be done to improve the public transport system, and we need to work on that first. Having congestion pricing without substantial improvements in public transport would be terrible,” he says.

A novel solution to improve public transport in Penang is to re-introduce the use of trams, and Netto has got a group of bloggers together to endorse the idea.

Trams are not new to the city; there was a tram system running in Penang until 1936.

He believes trams have many benefits and in the context of Penang will blend in with its heritage environment.

“It can be an added attraction for Penang, and it would be the first in the South-East Asian region. It’s also a great way to see the city and could encourage more visitors – locals, out-of-town Malaysians and foreign tourists – to the city. It will stimulate local economic activity,” he says.

Trams aside, Netto opines that Penang’s public transport system – on the whole – should be improved.

“It is not an either-or situation. Buses, trams, ferries – along with cycling and walking – should be part of an integrated transport system that complements one another, making Penang more accessible to all,” says Netto.

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