LETTER | A Penang assemblyperson has proposed that a levy is charged on outstation cars entering the island to reduce traffic congestion in Penang.
No doubt the proposal has sparked debates amongst many. For someone that's living in Kuala Lumpur, I actually applaud the proposal made by the assemblyperson. Here's why.
1. Recently we have seen cities worldwide implementing radical approaches in an effort to increase liveability rankings. Hanoi has promised to ban motorbikes by 2030. Singapore has taken drastic steps to reduce the number of cars on its roads while Jakarta has recently abolished some overhead pedestrian bridges and replaced them with ground level pelican crossings.
The move was initially criticised by many as Jakarta drivers feared it would cause more congestion as they needed to stop for pedestrians. But media reports have indicated that more Jakarta residents are actually happy with the implementation. Jakarta is also set to be the second South East Asian city to introduce congestion charges.
There have also been news reports that Bangkok may ban street vendors on pedestrian walkways. If our neighbouring cities have a strong political will to implement radical changes for better urban liveability, I always wonder why it isn't the same in Malaysia. I hope the government will have a strong political will in the new Malaysia.
2. Introducing levy charges on outstation cars will also encourage more people to use the RapidPenang bus services thus putting more pressure on RapidPenang so they can perform better. Plus it will be great if the Penang state government can use some of the levy charges to improve or upgrade the island's public transport. London has congestion charges and part of the revenue goes towards public transport development.
3. Congestion in Kuala Lumpur is already at a critical stage and we cannot afford to have another city like Penang to suffer the same fate. Plus there are great alternatives for outstation people to go to Penang. The KTM ETS from KL Sentral is a great and reliable alternative not to mention cheap express bus services and even affordable domestic flights.
I hope the Penang state government will carefully implement the proposed levy charges with proper logistics and technical support. Penang should lead by example.
A few years ago, there was a proposal for “kap chai” bikes to be banned in KL CBD but that move was not popular despite the great intentions to reduce carbon footprints, pollution and crime which in turn will boost our urban liveability rankings.
I hope Penang will have a strong political will to implement radical positive changes. If the political will is there, we can solve anything.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.