GEORGE TOWN: The state government will look into Penang Forum’s suggestion of an Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) system as an alternative to the light rail transit (LRT).
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pic) said the state government was briefed by China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) on the new train system last week.
“ART is relatively new. CRCC presented the system to us with the same slides and video used by Penang Forum.
“It will not be fair for us to respond now as ART is new to us, but we are not ruling it out,” he said after the question-and-answer session of a public dialogue on the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) at Dewan Sri Pinang on Sunday.
“All this while, Penang Forum never mentioned ART. Before this, they spoke of trams,” Chow said, responding to the presentation made by Penang Forum member Dr Lim Mah Hui.
Chow added that in the video, the train was on a highway with eight to 10 lanes.
“Penang does not have that much road space,” he said.
ART is a rail-less system for urban passenger transport, similar to other guided busways.
Later, in a press conference, Chow said ART did not require an actual railway.
“It has rubber wheels running on roads. It is directed by a sensor system, installed along the road and can be dedicated or shared with other modes of transport.
“If it is dedicated, other measures need to be taken into consideration, like when it approaches an intersection, the traffic light must be programmed to give priority to ART.
“If not, then it is no different from a bus,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship Organisation declared its support for the PTMP at the dialogue.
Its secretary-general John Ooh Sin Hwa said the transportation problem not only caused a daily inconvenience but had a negative impact on the state’s economic growth.
“We feel that the benefits and advantages outweigh negative implications.
“PTMP is a noble and sincere effort by the state government,” he said, adding that they would carry out a survey in rural areas and present the findings to the government.