A coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGO), Penang Forum has ticked off Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for belittling its suggestions to reintroduce trams, instead of the proposed Light Railway Transit (LRT), in Penang as a fiction.
The coalition steering committee claimed in a statement today that Guan Eng had accused Penang Forum’s views and statements on the multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) to be “emotional and not based on facts.”
“The Penang government’s own consultants have admitted that trams are cheaper than elevated LRT.
“However, Guan Eng claimed that our researches were only based on two or three days of Google searches.
“Guan Eng should bear in mind not to belittle public’s suggestions,” said Penang Forum, which supports the idea of reintroducing trams in Penang.
George Town City had efficient, affordable and reliable tram and trolley bus services for decades until they were scrapped in 1960s.
The steering committee said that Penang Forum had carried out its research for four months, which included interviews with some representatives from the world’s largest tram manufacturers, top officials of Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and senior traffic consultants.
It said that interviews with the two tram manufacturers showed that the average construction costs per kilometre for trams ranged from 17mil euros to 25mil euros, “which was definitely cheaper than LRT”.
Apart from the construction costs, according to the committee, the yearly operating and maintenance costs of trams will be three times cheaper than LRT.
The state government’s own transport master plan consultant Halcrow had stated that the estimated cost of construction per kilometre for trams was cheaper.
However, Penang Forum alleged that SRS Consortium, the PTMP project delivery partner (PDP), had subsequently escalated the construction cost for trams by over five times.
The committee wants all relevant authorities and SRS public presentations on trams versus LRT for a better understanding and consideration, adding that Penang Forum would join to present its case as well.
It also proposed that international tram manufacturers such as CAF, Alstom, CRRC and transport consultants to be invited in such public forum to discuss the operational and maintenance costs on trams and LRT.