Malaysiakini News

Is the SRS Transport Masterplan another financial scandal?

Roger Teoh  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Over the past week, we have observed a renewed interest from the public regarding the debate on the SRS Consortium -proposed Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

Various concerned NGOs, academicians, consultants, park users, residents and parents-teachers associations have all spoken up en masse to highlight the lack of transparency and ineffectiveness of the SRS Transport Master Plan.

My points:

  • SRS Consortium forecasts an annual ridership of 42 million for the Penang LRT, a number that is significantly higher than most MRT lines in London, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on a per capita basis.
     
  • If a more realistic ridership projection for the Penang LRT is used, the loss in ticket revenues could amount to at least RM1.2 billion over 10 years, threatening the financial viability of the LRT project and the State’s financial health.
     
  • Why did the Penang government insist on bulldozing through the SRS-recommended LRT and monorail as the preferred public transport systems, as opposed to trams and BRTs that is shown in the Halcrow Report to be cheaper to build, operate and maintain?

Rather than clearing the air, we have witnessed continued attempts by the Penang state government to engage in rhetoric and to suppress productive debates by labelling concerned parties as ‘spreading fake news’.

Regardless, we will continue to raise awareness on the deficiencies of the SRS Transport Master Plan directly to the public.

This article will focus on the Bayan Lepas–George Town LRT project, where the ridership projections by SRS Consortium was identified to be highly suspicious and unrealistic. These concerns, if left unchecked and unexplained by relevant authorities, could easily result in a financial scandal as will be highlighted in this article.

Ridiculous ridership forecasts for the Penang LRT

The annual ridership for the Bayan Lepas–George Town LRT that is forecast by SRS is 42 million passenger trips within its first year of operations. Such ridership figures are partially derived based on a population projection which is not supported by data from the Department of Statistics.

To give the public a better perspective of how ridiculously high this LRT ridership forecast is, comparative data on the actual ridership for other mass transits lines in different cities around the world are presented (figure below).

The metric of “annual passenger journey per person” used in this comparative study is calculated by dividing the annual passenger journey with the city population for a fairer comparison of cities with different population sizes...

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