PENANG TRANSPORT MASTER PLAN WATCHING BRIEF (Nov. 2018 Update)

FB SP eb books report title

– Eric Britton, Paris. Update of 31 October 2018

Why a Watching Brief for Penang?

On 23 November 2013 I submitted the final report and recommendations to close out the first stage of my planned work as an invited adviser and critic of Penang’s transportation strategy, plans and procedures.  (See the Mission statement at  https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/the-mission/ ) The report was intended as a working draft for wide distribution  and vigorous critical discussion in the following months. It was entitled:

“SUSTAINABLE PENANG: TOWARD A NEW MOBILITY AGENDA”      

    Phase 1 Report, Brainstorming  and Policy Recommendations 

You can access the full advisory report here –  http://bit.ly/2IqZ0PO

HOLD IT!  Expected next stage not engaged. What happened?

When the report and its recommendations were apparently set aside and entirely ignored — as had been the fate of the  excellent, highly professional reports and recommendations of the Halcrow Transport Group — I decided not to let it ride and instead of turning my back on this highly dangerous “Master Plan” project chose to set up a public “Watching Brief on Sustainable Transport in Penang” . The objective of the brief is to follow and report to a wide international audience on the continuing see-saw battle between an obstinate under-qualified state government consortium and powerful lobby with a closed-door multi-billion dollar “Big Bang” (their words) program of massive infrastructure expansion, almost all parts of which would in good time succeed only in making what is already a bad situation (mainly nothing more fearful than a plain-vanilla peak hour congestion problem) significantly worse.

After noting the resounding silence in Penang as far as my analysis and recommendations were concerned, my option was to cash the client’s check, do nothing and forget Penang.  Or perhaps to set up something along the lines of an independent . .  .

Watching Brief on Penang’s evolving transport situation and disputes

The goal of this internet platform and associated social media sites then  is to support legitimate sustainable transport initiatives, critical thinking, open discussions, new ideas, consistent policy, fruitful alliances and fact-oriented discussion and anything else that might help advance the public’s understanding of the New Mobility Agenda in Penang.  The watching brief also keeps a careful eye open to identify, feed and encourage public discussion of what are almost surely in this case poor science, bad ideas, absurd proposals and  ad hoc initiatives which violate the basic precepts of the sustainability agenda.

A watching brief is a continuous, independent, and in this case open collaborative monitoring activity of progress and problems taking place in a specific sector or area. It takes a arms-length vision of the focus area and in this case is made broadly available to the public and all involved as a tool in support of Civil Society in Penang.

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Worst Practices you really do not need to repeat in your city.

Awareness of the environmental, economic, equity and efficiency limitations of the old car-dominated transportation paradigm traces back to the early 1970s and has been extensively documented in the international literature.  But the old ideas, the old almost auto-pilot notions as to what works and what doesn’t die hard.  It is thus necessary that from the perspective of planning and public policy that we keep a sharp eye on all of these old bad habits, from the beginning of the investigatory, preparatory, analytic and planning process.

With this in view here is a first shortlist of well-known transport-related traps which your city really does not need to fall into.  If your strategic transport plan and actual performance, respect the first handful of these criteria.  You can be confident that you’re well on the right path.

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Welcome to World Streets Worst Practices Department

man sleeping under sidewalk - top half only

Since our founding in 2009 World Streets has given attention occasionally to poor, and at times desperately poor, policies and practices in the fields of cities and transportation, in what we call our Worst Practices Department. The WPD has its useful place in World Streets and the world more generally because when it comes to transportation there has never been a shortage of bad ideas and even worse implementations.

Most of the bad ideas you will see skewered in this section are the results of some variable combinations of hubris, avarice, haste, short-sightedness, self-interest, pure ego, and invariably sheer ignorance of the complexity of the 21st century mobility environment.  And of course all too often of sheer unbridled  stupidity. (And so it goes.)

“Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay.”

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SKY CAB BLUES IN PENANG

penang skycab - reversed
* See article in today’s The Star Online at Source: http://goo.gl/JmlZ1D

There are two things that are badly wrong with this proposal.

The first, and by far the easiest to deal with, is that it is a silly, amateurish and quite inappropriate mobility project, a waste of taxpayer money, unacceptably ad hoc and a waste of valuable time (in that it distracts attention and resources from the real challenges). Every international transportation professional with a serious education in the field has known that for the last two decades– other of course than those who just love this kind of technology and/or are in the hire of the eventual suppliers. So off it goes.

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“Worst Practices”: Regulations that prohibit shared taxis anywhere on the planet

“Regulations that prohibit shared taxis are an example of worst practice.” – Ann Hackett

In eleven short words Ann Hackett has put her finger on one of the most egregious “Worst Practices” in our field. And, as it happens, one that we know enough about to easily resolve.

USA NYC Taxi lady hailing source - thedailybeast

 

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