Gosh. What a loaded question.
If you’ve been reading the news (read: Free Malaysia Today), you would notice that there has been a lot of back and forth between those who want the Penang LRT and those who believe the focus should be on existing public transport.
Both have good points – Penang Island has limited land for more roads, or even widening the roads. Penang Island is crowded enough to cater for the passengers.
For naysayers, an LRT won’t make sense if you can’t get the ridership – even in Kuala Lumpur where you have 10 million people surrounding it, the ridership has only breached 600,000 passengers daily after 20 years of existing. There should be focus on already existing public transport instead – which is true – is there actually a bus that goes to the Penang International Airport?
But then again, having a bus that goes to the airport, coupled with the traffic in the area, would be a no-brainer.
For myself, an LRT for Penang would make sense, if it connected a few areas – the airport to the heritage area, the heritage area to the tourism beach area of Batu Feringghi, Batu Feringghi to Balik Pulau, Balik Pulau to Bayan Lepas airport, and all of this, to the mainland and hopefully link up to Penang Sentral where commuters can then take the ETS at Butterworth station or an express bus.
But then again, if you actually did this, why would you need the SkyCab?
So, perhaps the LRT can stick to the Island, linked to the ferry terminal which will have the SkyCab, and from there take the link to the mainland?
It has to cover such areas and link up with all public transport and people hubs, and that is the largest challenge of all. Unless you link it to the mainland, which can then lower the need for people to cross the bridge on the ferries (which is timely) or even the buses (which depends on congestion), then the LRT won’t make a big impact.