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LRT, monorail cheaper than trams, Penang NGOs told

Szeto shows the draft of the tram system in Komtar yesterday. With him are Public Works, Utilities and Transport Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng (left) and Chow. — Picture by R. MahgeshanSzeto shows the draft of the tram system in Komtar yesterday. With him are Public Works, Utilities and Transport Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng (left) and Chow. — Picture by R. MahgeshanGEORGE TOWN, May 6 — The Light Rail Transit (LRT) and monorail proposed under Penang’s Transport Master Plan (PTMP) are more viable options to solve the state’s transportation woes than a single tramway system, project delivery partner SRS Consortium said.

The firm’s project director Szeto Wai Loong disagreed with Penang Forum that modern-generation trams were cheaper alternatives to the elevated LRT and monorail lines, claiming the latter two options were not only more cost-effective but would also take up less space and would not cause prolonged road closures during construction.

“If the trams system were to be implemented, it would force road closure for a long period of time – up to seven years to relocate the utilities existing underneath the roads, apart from the construction itself,” he told a press conference at Komtar yesterday.

He added that throughout the construction period, road users would have to deal with traffic congestion as street-level trams would need at least two-lane routes.

Regarding construction cost, Szeto cited as example Sydney’s 12km tram line, which he said racked up a bill of RM6 billion.

Comparatively, he said the 30km Bayan Lepas LRT system under the PTMP would cost only RM7 billion.

Szeto and Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow were speaking at a press conference yesterday to refute criticisms raised by Penang Forum against the PTMP.

The umbrella group, representing several NGOs, had said recently that while it supported the idea of a masterplan for transport, it disagreed with the current scheme proposed for the PTMP.

Among others, it questioned the need for such an intricate network of public transport systems, claiming that a seamless network such as the tram system would cost less.

Chow, when responding, disagreed with Penang Forum and also denied claims that the state was in a hurry to implement the PTMP.

“I hope they (the critics) do their homework before putting in their suggestions because the project delivery team had put in a lot of effort to look into all these proposals,” he said.

The TMP, introduced as the Penang government’s solution to the state’s traffic woes, involves an intricate network of highways, LRT, a Rapid Bus Transit system, monorail and a tram system that would run only within the George Town Unesco Heritage site.

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