GEORGE TOWN, Sept 6 ― The Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that Penang is pushing for may not be the ideal solution to the state’s transportation needs, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
Citing studies showing that the LRT was not the best choice in the state, he said his ministry is consequently exploring other options.
“We have asked the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), which is still in operations until the end of the year, to brief the Penang chief minister on the findings of the studies and on the way forward,” he said.
He said the commission will propose alternatives such as a tram network.
SPAD will meet with the state government to consult on the latter’s public transportation wishlist, he told a press conference at E&O Hotel here after a signing ceremony between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Penang Port Sdn Bhd.
He stressed that the federal government will give its full support in terms of approval for public transport in Penang.
“We have other proposals and options to present to the state other than LRT so it is now up to the state to decide, we just want to give the state another option to choose from,” he said.
The Penang state government has applied for approval from SPAD for a LRT line from Bayan Lepas to George Town since 2016.
The proposed LRT is part of the state’s ambitious RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) that includes highways, LRT and creation of three islands to finance the whole project.
Loke confirmed discussing this matter with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow in a brief meeting this morning.
Chow told the media later that ever since the state submitted its applications for approval for the LRT line to SPAD in 2016, the state was told to hold on until the conclusion of a study on the northern region public transport system.
“SPAD recently completed the study, they can now engage us to look at options, whether it is LRT, trams, BRT or MRT,” he said.
Chow said the state government is open to options and if it can secure financing, the state can implement the public transport project.
“We are open to options, we can call a tram an LRT, in some countries LRT is called a tram or a tram is called an LRT, the question is whether it is elevated or on grid and if it is on grid, whether it will take up road space,” he said.
He said they will look at the options proposed by SPAD first.
In recent weeks, Penang-based civil society has objected to the implementation of LRT in Penang and also the building of the Pan Island Link (PIL1), a highway connecting the north of the island to the south.
Non-governmental organisations have repeatedly said the LRT is not sustainable in Penang as there was not enough ridership.