Penang LRT: Heritage Trust expresses cautious optimism

There is a need for more comprehensive information before forming a conclusive opinion.

29 Mar 2024 08:12pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Penang Heritage Trust vice-president Khoo Salma Nasution has expressed cautious optimism regarding the recent approval of the Penang Mutiara LRT Line project by the Cabinet.

While acknowledging the significance of the development, she stressed the need for more comprehensive information before forming a conclusive opinion.

"I want to see more specifics details to review, as currently, there appears to be a lack of alignment. Once the details are made available, we'll be in a better position to provide feedback.

“At this point, due to the limited information, we're unable to offer any commentary.

“We must await the publication of the ridership study, as it will open the view on crucial aspects from start to finish,” she said when contacted today.

When questioned about the future of traffic congestion in Penang, she emphasised the necessity of implementing a comprehensive public transport system, with the LRT being one of its integral components to mitigate this issue.

Khoo said typically, the bus system was prioritised for improvement initially because for LRT usage, commuters needed viable options to access the stations, as driving directly was not feasible due to limited parking availability and high costs.

She added the focus lies on enhancing the public transport network so that if LRT services are introduced, people could easily utilise them.

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Currently, even car owners faced challenges accessing LRT or MRT stations due to parking constraints and associated expenses.

Drawing from Singapore's example, Khoo highlighted their effective bus system preceding the development of the MRT, which now seamlessly integrates with bus routes, facilitating smoother transportation for commuters.

She said that it is currently challenging for them to provide commentary without seeing the entire system.

Regarding the state government's capability to sustain it, Khoo stressed the importance of knowing the projected annual Operation and Maintenance Costs. She also emphasised the necessity of making such information public.

She added, the need to assess the system comprehensively, including operational and maintenance expenses, as they lack details on factors such as distance covered, costs involved, and management responsibilities.

"It's crucial to justify the feasibility based on projected ridership and accessibility to stations. The entire plan should be made transparent," Khoo said.

Earlier, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced that the state has agreed to incorporate underground stations for some of its LRT stations instead of having them elevated.

Chow stated that following the recent presentation by the Transport Ministry and MRT Corp, the proposed underground sections would be situated in the city centre of George Town.

According to the proposal, the undersea train link would form part of a subsequent phase of LRT lines, extending across the entire length of Seberang Perai – from Kepala Batas to Simpang Ampat.

Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook had previously indicated that work on the project, connecting Bayan Lepas near the airport to Tanjung Bungah, is scheduled to commence later this year and is expected to be completed within five years.

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