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Saturday March 1, 2008

Aerorail in Malacca – is this a right move?

WHEN it was announced that Malacca city would have a revolving tower and LRT or monorail, I was definitely intrigued by the proposal. After all, Malacca does need some improvements to public transportation and a revolving tower sounded like an interesting way to see this lovely historical city. 

I am worried that the LRT or monorail would be designed with tourists in mind, instead of for the needs of Malacca’s population. 

The Chief Minister recently announced the RM1.5 Billion “Aerorail” project, confirming that the urban transportation system that had been promised was not much more than a project for tourists. 

The “Aerorail” is a name being given to the “Aerobus” technology built and marketed by Aerobus International.  

The rail system is not an effective choice for an urban transportation system. What we have is a RM1.5bil “people-mover” system built to cater to the needs of tourists. 

The design for the “Aerobus” shows a vehicle that is a combination of a cable car (like the Genting Skyway or Panorama Langkawi) and a small monorail system (like the Sunway monorail). This technology is interesting but largely untried. 

There have only been two applications of the “Aerobus” so far. The first was a test line in Mannheim, Germany, and the other was at a ski resort in Quebec, Canada. Neither of these lines is still operating.  

There is a tourist-oriented “Aerobus” under construction in Wei Hai, China. 

Interestingly enough, the “Aerobus” was even proposed for Kuala Lumpur in the 1990s, but ultimately rejected in favour of the monorail. 

I am not criticizing the Malacca Government for choosing the Aerobus system to build their “Aerorail” line for tourists. In fact, for a tourist-focused line, this technology actually makes sense.  

However, what disappoints me is that the State Government has encouraged us to believe that it was building an urban transportation system to reduce traffic congestion in Malacca. 

I am now concerned that the proposed “Aerorail” would do little to improve traffic congestion and also prevent a proper urban transportation system from being built.  

The well-documented failure of the Las Vegas Monorail should be an example of what not to follow.  

The last thing that Malacca needs is a poorly designed, costly, unpopular and unused system that only benefits tourists. 

Also, what is going to be done to improve public transportation and traffic congestion in Malacca over the next six years, while the project is under construction?  

Malacca still needs a properly organised bus system with decent, frequent service, as well as additional roads and flyovers to reduce traffic congestion in the urban areas. 



Subang Jaya.