Last spring, bloggers and webmasters in Penang, western Malaysia launched a Penangites for Trams campaign. Some tracks still exist from prewar days. A spirited exchange between advocates of trams, bus, LRT and mixed public transit ensued. Supporters admit that trams work best as part of an integrated public transport system, fed by an efficient and extensive network of buses -- certainly a better solution than the current polluting gridlock of private vehicles.
Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple, Penang: UK Daily Telegraph
"Trams are not just a thing of the past but of the future," claims local historian Khoo Salma Nasution, who wrote Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways: Municipal Transport History 1880s-1963. She called the the tramcar "iconic identity for Penang" that could "revitalise the heritage of the inner city." Referring to a rival LRT proposal, Citizens for Public Transport (CEPAT) coordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said, "There are many alternatives besides the intrusive overhead monorail system that are cheaper, more sustainable and suitable for Penang with its heritage city and tree-lined roads." He cited as a model the O-Bahn bus and rail links of Adelaide, Australia, and many German cities. The campaigners cite benefits of trams from the City of Edinburgh website .
- Trams don’t take up a lot of road space but they do carry a lot of people. As Edinburgh continues to grow, trams will be the most efficient way for people to travel about our city.
Downtown Penang; courtesy travelblog.org
- Trams show a city is a modern and well- connected place to do business which can lead to more investment, new jobs, regeneration and more prosperity for us all.
- an attractive option for motorists... 20% of peak hour and 50% of weekend tram passengers in the UK previously travelled by car.
- enhance the urban environment and generate civic pride.
- Trams will encourage shoppers to travel to the city centre which can lead to more investment by businesses and regeneration. Dublin saw a rise of between 20% - 50% in pedestrian footfall figures on Grafton Street, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare. Some retailers reported a 25% increase in trade.
Penang mosque, UK Daily Telegraph
- Residential and commercial properties may see prices increase beside tram routes. In some cities with trams, house prices have risen by up to 15% and rental prices by up to 7%
- no emissions from the vehicles.
- Trams will be accessible to everyone, with benefits of low level boardings at every stop and other easy-to-use features which particularly help the disabled and less mobile.
- safe to use as, in addition to a driver, every tram will have a passenger attendant on board to check tickets, answer passenger queries and ensure no anti-social behaviour occurs.
- offer concessionary fares.
- To which the Penangites add: electric trams, or light rail transit as they are known in many countries, do not require a licence from the federal government to operate but can be undertaken by the local council."
-- Thanks to bloggers Anil Netto, Sean Ang, and Southeast Asia e-Community for this story.