LRT not best option for Penang; no approval yet for LCCT in Penang: Loke

Audrey Dermawan

GEORGE TOWN: The proposed light rail transit (LRT) project is not the best option for Penang, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said today.

He said this was the finding from a study conducted by the decommissioned Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

He was asked on the state’s proposal for a LRT system as part of its multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

“I have discussed this with the Chief Minister (earlier today). I told him that we are fully supportive of the state’s efforts towards better public transportation services for Penang.

“However, our (SPAD) studies showed that LRT is not the best option for Penang. Maybe the tram or other modes of transportation.

“I have asked the top management of SPAD to brief the Chief Minister. A meeting will take place soon,” he told newsmen here today.

He was here for the signing of a joint venture agreement to redevelop the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal between Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) and RCL Development Holdings (Penang) Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned-subsidiary of one of the world’s leading cruises companies, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Also present was Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Elaborating, Loke said they would consult with the Penang government on what they want.

“We have others options but it is up to the state government to choose the option. On our part, we are committed in granting the approval,” he added.

In an immediate response, Chow said the Penang government would listen to what SPAD has to say first.

“We will engage with SPAD. We are open to any options be it the tram, the mass rapid transit (MRT), the bus rapid transit (BRT) or whatever,” he added.

Penang is looking to implement the PTMP, of which the LRT, three paired roads, undersea tunnel, among others, are a part of it to solve the worsening traffic congestion.

Numerous quarters had voiced their opposition of the PTMP.

Meanwhile, asked whether Penang actually needs a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) or suffice for the expansion of the existing Penang International Airport (PIA) to cater to the influx of air passengers, Loke said the ministry has not made any decisions yet.

He added that they were in the advance stages of going through the proposal.

“As fas as we are concerned, we have not given any approval to AirAsia for the construction of a LCCT. That is all media rumours.

“We have not even decided whether to have just one terminal or a separate one. But what we are certain is that the PIA will be expanded to cater to the increasing air passengers,” he stressed.

Earlier last month, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had said that the government was looking to build a LCCT next to the PIA in Bayan Lepas in one to two years’ time to cope with the increasing number of air passengers.

He had said the government was in talks with AirAsia Group Bhd and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) on the proposed project.

He had also said that the government was looking at the LCCT option as the proposed project would be fully funded by private companies, lessening the burden of the federal government.

The current airport has approached its maximum capacity of 6.5 million passengers per year, handling about 7.1 million in arrivals. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd