'LRT not a clear solution to Penang traffic woes'

GEORGE TOWN: Will the Penang Mutiara Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) benefit the people and solve the state's traffic woes?

Registered valuer Datuk Lim Chien Aun believes the answer is not straightforward as there are pros and cons to the project.

Lim, who is a land appraiser and surveyor, said the project would likely benefit those staying or working along the LRT route.

Based on the state government's proposal, the track will likely pass through the Free Industrial Zone, Bayan Lepas, Bayan Baru, Gelugor, Jelutong, Bandar Sri Pinang, Macallum and Komtar. The route will stretch from the soon-to-be reclaimed Silicon Island to Komtar, and then to Penang Sentral in Seberang Prai on the mainland, where it will connect with the existing KTM Komuter and ETS railway networks.

The line will have 20 stations and is estimated to stretch for 29km. There will be two interchange stations at Komtar and Penang Sentral.

Lim, who is the son of former Penang chief minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, questioned if high-density areas, such as Air Itam and Paya Terubong, were taken into account.

"Is it even viable for people in these areas to take the LRT to and from work daily? Will there be ample parking? Feeder service? How are they supposed to get from point to point?

"I hope it does not end up being a 'white elephant', more so with the high cost involving in building it," he said.

Lim said he had attended several early meetings when the LRT idea was mooted but was unsure if his concerns were taken into consideration.

"From what I see, the LRT project is not a clear-cut solution to solve the traffic problem in Penang, maybe in certain sectors," he said, adding that Penang was different from Kuala Lumpur, as the capital had high parking charges, traffic congestion and compounded by long distances between one point to another.

State Infrastructure Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari told the NST that the route would be finalised by Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp), as it was now the project owner.

He, however, believed it would not differ from the state's suggestion.

"But they (MRT Corp) will also consult us. It is our hope it (the route) will pass through the areas proposed by the state, which we deem to be major areas.

"We believe it will not differ too much from the state's alignment. Just some adjustments," he added.

It was reported on Friday that the cabinet had approved the Penang LRT project during a meeting on March 22.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the decision meant that the federal government would take over oversight of the Penang Mutiara Line LRT from the state government.

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