I USED to take public buses to school in the late 1990s. It was common then to see two or three buses coming at the same time at the bus stop in Ayer Itam, which delighted me and my childhood friends.
But there were times when there was not even one in sight after waiting for more than 30 minutes.
The long wait made us worry that we would be late for school but luckily, all’s well that ends well.
We would huff and puff all the way to our respective classrooms.
Such was the scenario back then when bus commuters could not plan their journey well nor use their time efficiently.
Three weeks ago, college student Phaisarin Tang, who lives in Macallum Street Ghaut, told me she once had to spend 40 minutes on a public bus just to get to Komtar from her house, a distance which is less than 1km away.
I could not believe it at first. But after giving it a deeper thought and having experienced traffic jams first-hand, I realised that Tang’s experience was possible.
There are so many unforeseen incidents that could lead to a traffic jam in Penang, such as accidents, road closures at certain stretches of the roads, or a vehicle breaking down.
The traffic woes, especially on Penang island, can be horrible, especially during school and public holidays.
It is normal for motorists and tourist bus drivers to battle through the narrow roads here before getting to their destinations.
But with an elevated Light Rail Transit or a monorail, we can bypass all the heavy traffic.
That is why both Tang and I are pinning for the Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit project, which is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), to materialise soon.
And I strongly believe many from the low and middle-income groups out there share the same view.
Besides PTMP, which Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is a strong advocate of, there are other projects like the expansion of Penang International Airport and Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal being carried out.
After limiting the tenure of chief minister to two terms, for sure, Chow would love to see his ideal Penang coming into realisation.
However, we can boast of having first-world facilities but we can’t afford to have a third-world mentality. There’s work to be done on our part.
Just look at the public toilets, be it at shopping malls, petrol stations or other places of interests.
Some of them are in very bad shape with broken toilet bowls, faulty flush system and even damaged doors.
Lumps of hardened grease can also be found in many of the foul-smelling drains.
The relevant government agencies have been conducting joint operations regularly to come down hard on dirty eateries.
But still, there are dirty
food outlets making headlines
in the newspapers from time to time.
Then, there are still people happily puffing away at non-designated smoking spots within the heritage enclave.
People also double-park along major roads, resulting in traffic snarl.
It is not fair to ask the state government to address all the issues when we do not get rid of our bad habits and practise good noble values, and civic responsibility.
We will certainly need a concerted effort from all quarters to move Penang forward.