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Penang govt holding meeting to hear proposal

Penang govt holding meeting to hear proposal

Published by The Star• 05/11/2021

GEORGE TOWN: Transport planners have been busy during the pandemic plotting new ideas for Penang’s much-needed mass public transport system.


The state government is holding a meeting later this month in which some of these new ideas will be tabled and they will all be alternatives to the first plan called Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (LRT).


SRS Consortium (SRS) project director Szeto Wai Leong said the state had called the consortium for a meeting to look at these proposals.


He said several large corporations had come up with ideas, but declined to name them for now.


SRS is the state’s project delivery partner of the Penang Transport Master Plan, a multibillion ringgit project encompassing a wide range of public transport modes and new road systems.


The main shareholder of SRS is Gamuda Bhd.


While the alternative proposals are not LRT-based, Szeto revealed that they were not new age either.


One idea to be reviewed is a monorail line, but Szeto said SRS was not that keen as monorails were usually proprietary systems.


“Once you have a monorail, all the maintenance and upgrades are dependent on that original maker. You cannot use parts or equipment from other monorail systems,” he explained.


Another proposal SRS expects to review with state authorities will be a tram system.


“Most likely, we will make a request-for-proposal (RFP).


“The RFP is still based on an LRT model but they can submit alternatives and with those, the alternative funding model as well,” Szeto added.


As for the 30m Bayan Lepas LRT plan, Szeto said all the environmental impact assessments for the plan on Penang island had been approved.


“What is holding up progress is the EIA for the depot end of the LRT line on Island A,” he said.


Island A is the project name of the first island to be reclaimed in the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project off the southern coast of Penang island.


The EIA for PSR was recently rejected by the Federal Government and SRS with the state government are in the process of submitting the EIA anew.


That depot for Bayan Lepas LRT, said Szeto, needed about 20ha of flat land.


“Where can you find 20ha of flat land on Penang island now? If you want to acquire it, the cost will be extreme,” Szeto pointed out.


Bayan Lepas LRT is meant to be the backbone of the state’s mass public transport system.


Future lines will be added to this, including an 18km track from the train station in Butterworth to the island that will cross the sea alongside the Penang Bridge.


“This will be an important addition because there is an obviously growing need for mass rapid transit between the island and mainland.


“We believe an LRT system is flexible and robust enough for us to make add-ons and upgrades far into the future,” Szeto added.

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