GEORGE TOWN, Nov 27 — Penang has requested for full authority to set up its own public transport system if Putrajaya has no plans to introduce an alternative to resolve the state’s worsening traffic problem.
In a letter addressed to acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein yesterday, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng urged the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration to either provide alternative public transportation for Penangites or grant the state government full jurisdiction to implement its own system.
An alternative system has been suggested as one of the only ways to manage the knot of traffic that plies Penang’s road routes daily and Lim, as chief minister, as been lobbying for an option from Putrajaya since Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won the state in 2008.
“The number of vehicles in the state has increased which is causing massive traffic jams so we hope the promise made by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to build or fund the construction of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) or Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in the state will be fulfilled,” Lim said in his letter to Hishammuddin.
Though the state government prefers a tram system to the LRT or MRT, Lim said they are open to any public transport system that the federal government chooses to fund and implement.
He revealed that the state has also received various proposals of alternative public transport systems from local and international firms.
“We are willing to meet with the Transport Ministry to discuss the plans to introduce an alternative public transport system in Penang as a means to overcome traffic congestion issues,” the Bagan MP said.
He urged the ministry to consider the state’s application for Putrajaya to fulfil promises made by Najib to fund the LRT or MRT system for the state.
“Otherwise, as an alternative to that, we hope the ministry will give Penang the full authority to implement and manage a suitable public transport system for the state,” Lim said.
He asked that Hishammuddin meet with him to discuss this issue further.
The island state currently only has Rapid Penang buses as its main public transport system but many Penangites continue to travel using their own private vehicles.
Traffic congestion along the main roads in George Town and satellite towns such as Bayan Lepas, Air Itam and also in Bukit Mertajam on the mainland, is a growing problem that the PR state government has been grappling with.
The tram system is one of the proposed alternative public transport systems that the state hopes to implement but the authority to set up and licence a public transportation system lies under the Transport Ministry.