Article from - The Sun -June 4, 2008
Diana Chin mailto:Chinnewsdesk@thesundaily.com
GEORGE TOWN (June 4) : Citizens groups in Penang have initiated a lobby to have the billion-ringgit monorail project replaced with a tram system in the state. The movement stems from an increasingly popular notion that the monorail is far too costly and would bring about adverse effects to the heritage streets and green landscape of Penang.
'Penangites for Tram' campaign coordinator Anil Netto explained that investment required for developing a tram network would be much lower than for constructing the monorail.
"The tram is a more substantial choice as we can revive the system based on already existing old tram lines that Penang used to have, thereby eliminating excessive additional costs," he said.
Netto said trams would blend in with George Town’s heritage and greenery, while the monorail would obstruct views of buildings and mar the attractiveness of the island.
He said a good tram system would also encourage people not to drive private vehicles within the town area, allowing them to save following the increase in fuel charges.
"If we give the people a better alternative in public transport, there will be less traffic congestion and more parking spaces in town," he said.
As the roads of Penang are narrow, they suited the concept of the trams, he added. The campaign is currently being supported by 25 bloggers and websites.
Heritage writer Khoo Salma Nasution noted that the Penang Island Municipal Council was the first local government to introduce electric trams in the inner city in the early part of the last century.
"People think the tram is a thing of the past, but they are wrong because it is actually the thing of the future," she said. "It is clean, energy saving and user-friendly not to mention fast, efficient and also cheap." She said the tram could provide an iconic identity for Penang and help revitalise the heritage of the inner city.
Khoo, who published a book titled ‘Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways: Municipal Transport History 1880s-1963’,said trams could also help traffic calming in Penang’s roads.
Aliran and Penang Heritage Trust activist Ahmad Chik said the campaign is calling for a traffic master plan for Penang that would include feasibility studies for trams as compared to monorails and underground transit systems.