Home 2010:11 Aristotle says, “Penang will have better public transport”

Aristotle says, “Penang will have better public transport”

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Yap Soo Huey urges us to hop on a bus to reduce congestion. Decongesting traffic, she says, is just a state of mind.

Congestion along Penang Road - Photo courtesy of jctan/Penang Watch

Penang will have better public transport. It is imminent and unavoidable.

Aristotle is famous for his development of logic or ‘syllogisms’. A syllogism is a deduction where, as long as the premises of the argument are true, then the logical conclusion is a necessary and unavoidable outcome.

A. If RapidPenang functions as a profit-driven business, it makes good business sense to improve its services and implement strategies to improve ridership.
B. If RapidPenang functions as a Federal Government machinery, then laudable efforts to service Penang will reflect favorably on the Federal Government which is keen to regain favour in Penang. By providing effective public transport, RapidPenang is also able to curtail calls for decentralisation of public transport.
C. The Penang Government needs an effective traffic management plan to support the rampant developments happening in the state. To achieve this, especially in view of limited funds, it must establish a cooperative relationship with RapidPenang.
D. The Penang government, which is eager to demonstrate commitment for change and effective administration, will work towards plans that can be credited for improving traffic and transport in Penang.

All of A–D individually and together will necessarily and unavoidably result in better public transport in Penang. They imply that both RapidPenang and the Penang Government will take actions to improve public transport in Penang; so doubts are futile and contradictions by key players will not win them their game.

Nonetheless, to my fellow Penangites who drive cars, are we willing to leave our cars at home and enjoy a chauffeured bus ride to work or play?

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Are the financial incentives of 30 days unlimited travel for RM75 (RM30 for students) not enough? Are we not encouraged by the pre-paid Rapid Passport that entitles us to further discounts at numerous participating outlets (including restaurants, hotels, spas and other attractions)? Why don’t we take advantage of the free WiFi in RapidPenang buses so we can spend more time on our laptops, iPhones or Blackberries? Or will we too dearly miss the fumes from petrol stations and the increasing BonusLink points from rising petrol prices? Are we so drained from driving on Penang roads that we have become too tired to notice the financial, time and health incentives of public transport?

A call to the RapidPenang ICIS hotline will now tell you which bus to take and give real-time information on how long before the bus arrives at your stop. So what is stopping us from hopping on-board? When there are more frequent buses, more comfortable bus stops and more convenient bus routes, will we hop on? When will we hop on? Perhaps what we really need is a change in mindset.

There have already been vast improvements in public transport in Penang, but are car owners aware? When RapidPenang and the Penang Government make further improvements in the system, will they effectively convey these improvements to the public and convince them to hop on? In a society accustomed to decades of deploring and even deteriorating public transport, what will it take to regain the people’s trust and reverse their shunning of public transport? As we discuss bus lanes, routes, costs and services, can we see the forest for the trees?

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Dear Penangites, maybe what is standing between us and more comfortable roads, is simply ourselves. Will we hop on?

Yap Soo Huey is a young Penangite tired of cars crowding her street.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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26 Apr 2013 1.45pm

Dear Ms. Yap, I applaud your idealist perspective towards a more sustainable and liveable city approach. I was, and still a current avid bus user. Throughout my entire college years in Penang, I have been using Rapid Penang’s services to ferry myself around from malls to the campus to meeting friends. I have been constantly advocating for an increased usage in public transport. However the harsh reality often contrasts with your idealistic perspective.The current state of our roads together with the public transport infrastructure is not able to cope with an increase of passengers as well as car users. During peak hours, buses are stuck in bottle neck congestions at Komtar, apart from that, buses are packed like “sardine cans”. Buses are made up of mostly immigrant labourers which causes a security threat to our local passengers. This threat isn’t superficial as there are many cases of pick pockets and violence during the bus rides. I for one had my pocket picked while standing in an extremely packed bus. The rationale behind why are people still driving despite the traffic congestion is simple, if I was… Read more »

8 Feb 2011 1.07am

Driving is the most appalling waste of a skilled human in the world, unless the human is skilfully driving a few dozen other humans. If you’re driving yourself around, you are – by definition – an idiot. If you allow someone else to drive you, you can put your travelling time to productive use – even if it is closing your eyes and enjoying a few moments of relaxation. If working is your thing, then you can put your travel time to solid, productive use. I do – I carry papers / books to read, notepad and pencils and pens to take notes and sketch designs, and super-light portable PC for programming, info and email. The problem is worst of all in places where people simply don’t do productive work. If you ‘work smart’: spend your day ligging/blagging, trying to talk someone into parting with their money, commodity, effort or skill in return for nothing of value in exchange, then the superficial appearance of working is all you need. Driving yourself around fits that bill nicely. I suspect that Penang simply doesn’t have enough workers compared… Read more »

1 Feb 2011 11.49am

Rapid Penang should give the public proper scheduling. It’s always a guessing game as to when buses will arrive and it’s such a hassle for the working individual. Take care of that first then we talk

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