SRS projects vs. Penang Forum call for new Transport Master Plan
Translated from Chinese interview of Ahmad Hilmy, transport and city planning scholar from the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which appeared in the China Press of August 13, 2016. Mr. Hilmi closes the interview by stating frankly his recommendation that “the government engage independent experts to study both the proposals by SRS and the NGOs, based on best scientific estimates of construction cost, acquisition cost, maintenance and operation cost, life cycle, opportunity costs and externalities, ridership, environmental and life quality impacts, cultural and heritage issues, impacts on vulnerable populations, etc., instead of keep on arguing.
For full background on the fast-growing struggle to create a sustainable transport system for Penang. we direct you to The NGO Challenge Dialogue at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-xJ. The picture is rather murky at first due to considerable obfuscation on the part of the current administration, but if you are interested please take the time to work your way down through that top right menu section also entitled NGO Challenge Dialogue. You make up your mind, and if you have any comments, corrections or suggestions these pages are entirely open.
Hello Eric, Thanks for forwarding the short reply by Lloyd Wright on Free Public Transit to the list. It made me think: Hmm possibly the comparison of Free Public Transit to public spaces that are generally open to use by the population free of charge is a strong, valid point. Beyond that here are some rough, somewhat wide-ranging and unstructured thoughts:
Like so many issues I feel that this one could benefit from a structured presentation perhaps in the form of a matrix or a similar arrangement to provide an overview of the most important issues, arguments and counter-arguments. (I am open for editing-collaboration for such an undertaking.) However, counterarguments and other considerations came flowing as I sat down to write.
Ali Clabburn, Founder, MD, and Possiblist of the UK ridesharing group Liftshare (at right above) reminds us 18 years later of how much has changed in the world of ridesharing, but also the whole spectrum of sustainable transport thinking and practice.
Ali’s personal story with ridesharing got started by accident.
“Big Data” is a term referring to all the massive amount of information with which people can work in this 21st Century. It is fundamentally different from the casual denomination of “simple” or “historic” data because there is such a huge mass of information generated with Big Data that normal tools of treatment cannot deal with it. This change in the data itself is due to the technological revolution we call “digitalization”.
Following up on Simon Norton comments here of 2016/08/07
“Public Space” is generally mostly free. This includes footpaths, parks, and town squares. If one advocates charging for public transport, it would seem most of the same arguments would apply to public space. And yet few would actually support such a position, principally on grounds of equity.
There are also ways to make public transport funded on a sustainable basis while making it free to the user. There are cities which utilize a parking levy to completely cover all public transport costs.
Such modal funding transfers also carry a great deal of appropriateness when one considers the actual societal costs brought by private motor vehicle use and the actual societal benefits of collective transport.
Simon Norton comments: Submitted on 2016/08/07
There are 2 overriding arguments for free transport:
- It avoids the cost (in both person power and time) of fare collection. The latter is particularly relevant when a bus has to spend ages at bus stops collecting fares from boarding passengers. Then motorists demand that the bus pulls into a layby so that they can get past, and the bus has to waste further time waiting to pull out after all the fares are collected.
- It encourages people to think of public transport as the default option. This increases the likelihood of it being able to provide a comprehensive service, as on less used routes it will be able to capture a high proportion of the overall travel demand.
Now for some counter arguments to the ones put forward by Eric:
What do the 4,448 readers (today) turn to when they check into Word Streets in the morning? It never fails to surprise us. The variety of choice is enormous, and it often happens that articles which we consider minor if still interesting suddenly take off, because it turns out that our readers make up their own minds for their own reasons. Take the most read posting over the last half-dozen years for example — Why Free Public Transport is perhaps a bad idea. We thought it was an interesting and timely topic, but never suspected the depth of interest and that in time it would attract more than ten thousand readers. And what is more continue to show up on the most read list day after day.
In any event once a year we sit down and review the most popular articles going all the way back to the first one published in March 2009, and share the top contenders with our readers and anyone who might be curious about what sort of thing shows up here. In this spirit you will find below the most consulted articles of more than 1,720 that have appeared in these pages. These are the issues that our 4,455 readers in 149 countries on all continents show they care about.
There are a good number of proponents around the world — politicians and activists for the most part — supporting the idea that public transport should be free. It certainly is a tempting idea on a number of grounds. And if we here at World Streets have our own thoughts on the subject (stay tuned), it is always good practice to check out both sides of the issues. to get the ball rolling, just below you will find four short statements taken from the Wikipedia entry, setting out arguments against FPT. More to follow on this but in the meantime we are interested in hearing from our readers and colleagues around the world both with (a) their comments on these criticisms and (b) yet other critical views. (This is sure to be a bit exciting.)
* Note: See numerous, extensive comments below.
If you get it, New Mobility policy reform is a no-brainer. However, while the New Mobility Agenda is a great starting place, it is not going to get the job somehow miraculously done just because it is the only game in town when it comes to sustainable transport. There is plenty of competition for your thin wallet, all that space on the street, and especially for that space between our ears. We have a few potential sticking points here that need to be overcome first.
Let’s have a quick look. After some years of talking with cities, and working and observing in many different circumstances, here is my personal shortlist of the barriers most frequently encountered in trying to get innovative transportation reform programs off the ground, including even in cities that really do badly need a major mobility overhaul.
And you may read this as a negative criticism of the various groups and interest mentioned here, but please that is not at all my intent. Human beings and most organizations are notoriously change resistant, that is a key element of their survival strategy. In this short essay is my intention simply to remind the reader of the most important tension points, so that we can have this in mind as we move ahead with the difficult task of finding allies for a new, better and fairer transportation system
– Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets
Penang, 4 August 2016: The state-appointed SRS consulting team who have presented their revised Transport Master Plan and project proposals have inserted specific high cost modal and technology choices without sharing the technical analysis behind these choices, with a heavy no-choice no-explanation preference for no less than three exotic monorails, elevated LRT, major road building and road works, and, depending on the day, bridges and/or tunnels.
Have they actually done their homework? No one knows since the technical studies are being kept confidential, despite promises by the state government to make them public.
Yet there are dozens of competing ways of getting from A to B in or around a city. Here’s an incomplete shortlist of different candidates, just to get us going on the suject:
Here we go again. Every day is a great day for World Streets to announce publicly, loudly and yet once again our firm belief that the most important single thing that our society, our nations and our cities, could do to increase the fairness and the effectiveness of our transportation arrangements would be to make it a matter of the law that all decisions determining how taxpayer money is invested in the sector should be decided by councils that respect full gender parity. We invite you to join us in this challenge and make it one of the major themes of sustainable transport policy worldwide in the year immediately ahead.
Cooperative barn raising in rural America
As part of preparing the way for a sponsored project, the last months here were given over to work aimed at laying a firm organizational, working tools and communications base for the actual project. As of this date here are the main building blocks already for the most part in at least beta working order and ready to go as soon as the sponsors and partners give the green light:
We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
– Ernest Rutherford, on taking over Cavendish Laboratory in 1919
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The above map reports the locations of 561 readers checking into World Streets over the last five days. (Of our total 4,484 registered readers as of this date.)
But what about them? Where? And what do they read?