Penang bloggers have launched a campaign called Bloggers for Trams in Penang, to raise awareness of people regarding the viability, economic (not to mention touristic) benefits of trams as part of the Island’s public transportation.

Initiated by Anil Netto,  who has a little write up of the benefits of trams in his blog,  the campaign is expected to draw Penang bloggers and others to blog about the issue and carry the poster (above) in their blogs.

So start the ball rolling, will ya?

I believe trams can be quite fun to have around, to beat the traffic jam, as well as provide Penangites with an alternative public transport to buses or other vehicles. Taxis are still a pain by not wanting to charge by meter. And the town is simply too congested with too many cars and less parking spaces. Trams are  suppose to improve air quality, too, as they are powered by electricity and there are no CO2 omissions.

So what are you waiting for? If you are a blogger (or even if you are not), get everyone interested in this tram affair and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see the authorities and interested groups taking some action towards this end.

34 responses »

  1. RBY says:

    Hear Yea, hear yea. Double thumbs up for trams.

  2. […] pepino ããã¼ã / game boy rock band wrote an interesting post today on Why not have trams in Penang?Here’s a quick excerptWhy not have trams in Penang? Posted in ELECTIONS GENERAL, FILES: PENANG, HEADS UP!, MALAYSIAN MADNESS, NEWS, OOLALA!!! with tags bloggers, penang, public transportation, taxis, trams on May 14, 2008 by sloone Penang bloggers have launched a campaign called Bloggers for Trams in Penang, to raise awareness of people regarding the viability, economic (not to mention touristic) benefits of trams as part of the Island’s public transportation. Initiated by Anil Netto,  who has a little write up […]

  3. ANg Kong says:

    for sometime, i have this idea of running hovercrafts fr large car parks between PG and mainland in conjunction with modern public transportation like trams or over-ground during peak hours to alleviate the traffics and possible replace the second bridge altogether. the truth is Penang is way too congested. City planners should have thought out urban planning more carefully. Public transportation should never be privatised period.

  4. SK says:

    While the idea of trams sounds good, judging from observations in Melbourne, Sydney and now in Zurich, having it in Penang somewhat poses a challenge as there are many factors for consideration including, but not limited to, road behaviour of motorists and pedestrians, planning, training of personnel, integration with rail / bus / ports – both sea and air, maintenance, quality of trams, tariff and real estate / tracking / acquisition of road / land. It has worked for ages for example here in Zurich because of all of the above factors, and quite possibly more.

  5. hutchrun says:

    A very good idea, that I`ve been thinking about for many years. Good that it`s surfaced.

  6. Choo Keang Wooi says:

    I am from the Klang Valley. Putting back tram system may not be suitable for small narrow roads found in this country. I have been to Melbourne and the reason why it is a successful is because Australia has wide roads and the people are “trained” to not stand in front of a moving trams.

    In the Klang Valley, many people are using the LRT. An elevated track may be more expensive than the tram tracks but it can move above traffic without problems. But I would suggest the MRT for Penang rather than LRT. More couches moving at high speed is a good people mover like in Singapore. I was also wondering if the extra lane on the Penang bridge on both sides can be used for the MRT track because we should be moving people and not having more cars on Penang. The MRT tracks can run from Prai to around George Town and come back to Prai again.

    This is my opinion.

  7. hutchrun says:

    I asked him what he would recommend for Penang. He said for heritage cities like Milan (and Penang), a tram network would be preferable as it would be at street level and blend in with the old buildings rather than having an overhead rail system marring the built heritage environment. (Milan’s streets are not much wider than George Town’s and the tram railtracks and stops are usually in the centre of the road.)

    In Milan, passengers buy tickets before boarding the buses or trams at street level. The tickets are available at news vendors and shops. The drivers don’t bother looking at the tickets when passengers board. Instead, the passengers are supposed to “validate” their tickets by inserting them inside machines placed inside the buses/trams. Drivers are thus not burdened with ticket sales and this saves them a lot of time and hassle. Ticket inspectors randomly enter the buses/trams to check if passengers have proper validated tickets. Anyone not having a validated ticket is fined 36 euros (about RM170). It seems the inspections are rare – and the fine serves more as a deterrent.

    A tram system need not be an antiquainted mode of transport. Take a look at Milan’s modern Eurotrams, which run alongside older models from the 19th century onwards. This combination of old and new trams makes the city a fascinating living public transport museum!

  8. hutchrun says:

    Penang was one of the first urban centres in Southeast Asia to operate steam trams, horse trams, electric trams and trolleybuses. When the Municipal Commission established its own electrical supply, it took over the tram service and started the electric trams in George Town in 1906. This gave the local population excellent public transport around George Town, with one line going up to Ayer Itam. In the late 1920s, the Municipality replaced trams with trolley-buses, experimenting for a while with re-conditioned double-deckers from London Transport!

  9. hutchrun says:

    20071014 Penang uncovers old tram tracks

  10. bamboo river says:

    Trams for Penang is a good idea.
    I remember there was a plan to initiate this years ago.
    Everytime I visited Penang (self drive) i find the traffic is becoming from bad to worst.
    I will avoid driving into Penang town but the food at Penang Road is hard to resist lah.
    No wonder most drivers in Penang drives auto-shift cars.
    I can understand why Penangites objected the PGCC .

  11. lucia says:

    while i do support the project of getting trams back in penang, in a way i do i agree with SK and choo keang wooi too. a lot of considerations and planning need to be look into before implementing the project.

    while it’s true what hutch mentioned about trams suitable for heritage city like penang but the trouble is penang has now been turned into a concrete jungle… no more a heritage city!

    those who would like to read more about trams in penang can see my post where ric francis (the rail expert and a friend) gave a talk. there is also a proposed route map.

  12. ah long says:

    How about hanging a monorail under the Penang bridge !!!!

    Yes, you can hang monorails !!!! The track need not be under the carriage. It works equally well if the “track” is on top !!!!

    Anyone been to Memphis – Elvis Presley’s home. Their monorail is hung under an existing bridge !!!!!

    And so say ah longs are all good looks and no brains.

  13. kittykat46 says:

    I’ve ridden on trams in Melbourne, Vienna and Zurich. Trams can be very effective urban transport systems, because unlike full fledged train systems, they come right to the user’s neighbourhood and function more like a high-capacity bus.

    I also noticed for trams to share the same space as cars, the car drivers have to be very “obedient”. It works very well in Germany and Austria, OK in Australia. The trams have right of way. Car drivers actually stop when the tram stops, and they don’t block the trams.

    I shudder to think how it will work out with Penang drivers !

  14. hutchrun says:

    Haha. What do you do when the light is yellow?
    Step on the gas so you get across before it turns red.

  15. selvaraja somiah says:

    Afterall, old tram tracks were uncovered in Penang Road recently and I dont find why the tram service cannot be brought back to improve the public transport system which is pathetic in Penang.

    I understand a Feasibility Studies on the Tram Service for Penang were made and given to the previous state government, but, because, the Monorail was a greater priority due to massive kickbacks the UMNO lobbyist will gain from the Monorail Project, those “shortsighted parochials” in Penang who serve the UMNO Warlords had the idea of having the tram relegated to the back burner.

  16. dbctan says:

    I like the idea of trams for all the reasons stated and for the added ‘old world’ appeal of course. but i think penang needs more than trams. the whole system has to be relooked and streamlined. seriously and quickly.

  17. dbctan says:

    i say sloone, black is cool – but it’s kinda hard to read, don’t you think?

  18. rickyng68 says:

    I fully supported the Trams for Penang.This will not only attract tourists to have a better view of the scenery of the surrounding areas,but also provide a mode of transportation for the local folks. Thums up.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Trams in western countries work because of the courteous behaviour of car drivers who share the road with trams.

    But with the attitude of many Penang drivers that I’ve come across on our roads, I doubt trams will ever work in Penang!! 😉

  20. Lallang exile says:

    Yes, bring back the quaint, inexpensive and green tram back to Penang.

    Like Hutchrun mentioned, the island had this mode of transport until the 20s. I wonder whether they were the same as the ones used in HK now.

    In affluent Hong Kong, the tram is still being used in HK Island, running from east to west along the former main road linking the city. They used to charge just 20 cents when I first got here, now it’s $2. The fare is the same no matter where you alight. It is cheap, enviromentally friendly and fast in face of the traffice jams. Compared to the MTR, most would opt to take the tram for short distances to avoid going up and down the stairs/elevators for the MTR. One negative thing I would like to mention that it

    Passengers drop the coins/or zap their Octopus card when they alight with the driver keeping an eye. Some who do not have change are usually let off with a warning.

    Compared to the one in Melbourne, the double decker HK trams are quite busy and very popular with locals and tourists alike. They also earn revenue via outdoor ads plastered all over the cars.

    The present tramline used to be the shoreline, and one could pick out older buildings and street names (especially in Wanchai) for signs of how the city used to be.

    I think the tram would be more suitable for Penang, as tourists would be able to see the almost intact Chinatown and old buildings from street level.

    I hope the government will not opt for the Light Rail Transit, which is also used in the New Territories in HK. They were imported during the last years before the 97 handover, and were very expensive and caused several serious accidents. Many huge, magnificent gum trees planted years ago lining the major roads and streets had to be felled to make way for it. I would hate to see the same happening in Penang where many grand old angsanas are already gone.


  21. flyer168 says:

    Dear Susan,

    selvaraja somiah Says:
    May 15, 2008 at 9:54 am

    “I understand a Feasibility Studies on the Tram Service for Penang were made and given to the previous state government, but, because, the Monorail was a greater priority due to massive kickbacks the UMNO lobbyist will gain from the Monorail Project, those “shortsighted parochials” in Penang who serve the UMNO Warlords had the idea of having the tram relegated to the back burner.”

    I agree with Selvaraja’s comment. The question is “Do Penangites who are used to their cars to commute” want a simple long term cost effective solution or allow the Federal Government to decide & be charged a “Bomb” like the PGCC.

    The Penang People & the new State Government can make it happen.

    Where there is a Will, there will be a way !

  22. ah long says:

    Trams cost lots of $$$. I say bring back the old Penang “bechai” – rickshaw. Also create employment.

  23. azhan says:

    they either korek or pasang tram lanes on the road to show tourist the lines or leftover of it – as historical item.

  24. dodgy inc says:

    I lived in the City of Melbourne before. Tram is wide-spread and the most favourable inner city transport of all.

    City of Sydney is still playing catch up to reintroduce Tram they abandoned sometime back, just like Penang.

  25. Thy Kam Thim says:

    Mr Selvaraja, you must be the mastermind who convince Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan to put his Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to contest in Penang in the General Elections in 1995.

    I remember you were organising the PBS cell in Penang and you manage to get Datuk Khor Ghak Kim (the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang)and Datuk Lkabir Singh (the Penang Council Secretary) into your group at that time.

    I use to attend the initial meetings in Datuk Khor’s office in Leith Street.

    You also contested on a PBS ticket in Penang. Do you still run the PBS Service Center in Datuk Keramat? Are still with PBS?

    Nice to know you are still active and always very intelligent with your thoughts and ideas.

    I have sent a message to your email and i hope you reply.

  26. billauchris says:

    Trams for Penang? My answer is a definite “NO” in the light of the present situation.

    Penang has grown the last 60 years. Trams used to be one of the unique attractions of Penang; but it was introduced at a time long gone by when the traffic was not so congested. There were less motor-cycles, vehicles, people and bicycles dominating most, if not all the two-way narrow roads, alleys and lanes of old Georgetown, Pearl of the Orient.

    At that time, Bayan Lepas and Prai and vicinities were not developed as an industrial sites. But now, commuters comprising mostly factory workers, road users and air passengers have increased substantially the last 30 years.

    Penang used to be linked to the mainland by the two miserable snail-speed ferries. The volume of traffic to and from the mainland has also increased by leaps and bounds so much so that the Penang Bridge was built. But now it is found that that bridge can no longer cope with the highly increase road users – hence the second bridge is contemplated.

    In the light of the above circusmtances, trams would not be suitable for Penang. They will cause more traffic jams unless they operate overheads.

    Planners should look into the future population growth of Penang, the increased influx of tourists, increased traffic users and the industrial programme of Penang (which I include Butterworth as well).

    Under the present conditions, the conception of a monorail is a joke and highly impractical. We need mass railway transit to bus the people from one point to the other rapidly and avoid loss of productive time due to traffic congestions in Penang. This invariably increases the energy consumption.

    The present bridge was built to cater for four lanes on each side. One can see that horizontal beams jut out for this purpose. Because of shortage of funds then, the width of the bridge was reduced.

    Can someone in the planning unit now to re-look at the feasiblity of linking Prai to Penang with MRT and have it extended to connect to the various vantage points and places of interest of Penang?

    For heaven sake, do not follow the KL model in which many of the stations were built in not so populous areas and besides the rail tracks were not built for common usage by the four operators – Commuter train, PUTRA & STAR Lines and the M onorail. I can foresee they will run at a loss and eventually get bailed out or continue to get subsidy from the Government.

    In view of the above, let us not go backward. We should march forward. I would like to see Penang of which I am proud to be differently developed. Let us make use of the air-space. In this way, the Government does not have to be embroiled in getting rid of the stuborn and obstinate squatters of Penang – which will cause undue project delays.

  27. Loh-Lim says:

    What we desperately need is a Transport Master Plan for Penang. No massive infrastructure implementation should take place without proper study and consultation. We should study what exactly suits Penang, is sustainable and then seek an open tender. This is logical and reasonable and certainly no system should be accepted from vendors merely because it comes with federal funding. The 2nd link should incorporate a rail-link and be a people-mover rather than a vehicle mover. The PORR should be completely re-examined as its usefulness is very limited and for a very short period of time. Other cities have long proven that more roads have never solved traffic problems and merely encourage more cars to be used.

  28. […] Susan Loone […]

  29. Tim says:

    Look at world most liveable city like Melbourne, Adelaide and Endingurh, they are all choosing tram.

    Look at poorly manage transport cities like Kuala Lumpur, LRT is not integrated, or is it?

    billauchris – please study carefully population of Penang. MRT is only for large cities. If you implemented MRT on Penang island, you would be go bankcrupt.

    What historical city like Georgetown needs is to implement (very much lower cost than monorail) tram network like Melbourne. Have you visited Melbourne? By the way, Melbourne cist is 10 times larger than Georgetown. Correct?

    Tram is a tourist product as well as could replace RapidPenang goind around inner city of Georgetown. Why?

    Tram could also be fast deployed on 3rd left lane of Penang Bridge when the extention completed by UMNO company UEM.

    Monorail could have no way to use existing Penang bridge but tram track could be laid on present Penang Brdige.

    SO, where is the wisdom of the leaders and Penangites? If you want fast public transport to be on island and pay low commuter ticket, go for tram!

    KL LRT is messy. Look at Melbourne and Adelaide first.

    Please look at world top 30 cities first: who are they? By identifying who are they, you would see more clearly what are they?

  30. Tim says:

    Please see here – Trams don’t take up a lot of road space

    See at benefits of tram –

    So write to your Penang state government at

  31. blue says:

    wow this issue had been so hot and now it’s already in The Sun.

  32. Rainstorm says:

    Is about time tram be used in Penang ! Is better & go hand in hand while preserving the heritage sites !

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