Saturday, December 11, 2010

Penang Transit -Route Networking Visibility & TOD

One of the biggest obstacles in improving the ridership of bus transit on Penang island is the lack of visibility of route networking. Under decades of misrule of Koh Tzu Kon, the island is left with only 4 transit stations making the built environment totally transit unfriendly. The half century old centralized hub-and-spoke model which use Weld Quay(Jetty) as the central hub for interchange has reaches the limits of its scalability. The problem is compounded by the poor visibility of route networking.

If you ask a commuter to travel from Air Hitam to Gurney Drive without travelling via Weld Quay or Komtar using bus interchange in the most efficient and effective manner, no one can come out with a good answer. When a commuter face this kind of problem, how do you expect the normal car users to opt for bus transit. If a commuter is force to make bus interchange at Weld Quay or Komtar, unnecessary trip will involve, which will prove to be time consuming. If a commuter who is unfamiliar with the destination he want to travel using bus transit and unsure about where to stop or where to take a bus, do you seriously think the habitual car drivers will opt for bus transit. A primary expectation for better transit ridership, total time-to-travel, is becoming an important issue as the working class segment of the public has woven travelling into their everyday lives.

Bus transit ridership will only be able to improve if the route networking visibility is improved. Rapid Penang inherited the old route networking topology of hub-and-spoke model has no incentive to change because to build transit stations it need land. Although RapidPenang CEO Azhar Ahmad strongly supports Bus Rapid Transit, he is constrained by the non availability of lands. As can be seem from his plan to implement Bus Rapid Transit along the Jelutong Expressway from Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay) to Bayan Lepas. This is one of the transit corridors where the state government still has limited lands for used as transit station.

To solve the traffic woes on Penang island, the first thing is to discard the hub and spoke topology for route networking.

According to Wikipedia, the hub-and-spoke distribution paradigm (or model or network) is a system of connections arranged like a chariot wheel, in which all traffic moves along spokes connected to the hub at the center. The model is commonly used in industry, in particular in transport , telecommunication and freight, as well as in distributed computing.
The hub-and-spoke model is most frequently compared to the point-to-point transit model (daisy chain model).

Benefit of hub and spoke model
  • For a network of n nodes, only n - 1 routes are necessary to connect all nodes; that is, the upper bound is n - 1, and the complexity is O(n). This compares favorably to the \frac{n(n-1)}{2} routes, or O(n2), that would be required to connect each node to every other node in a point-to-point network. For example, in a system with 10 destinations, the spoke-hub system requires only 9 routes to connect all destinations, while a true point-to-point system would require 45 routes.
  • The small number of routes generally leads to more efficient use of transportation resources. For example, bus are more likely to travel at full capacity, and can often travel routes more than once a day.
  • Complicated operations, such as package sorting and accounting, can be carried out at the hub, rather than at every node.
  • Spokes are simple, and new ones can be created easily.
  • Customers may find the network more intuitive. Scheduling is convenient for them since there are few routes, with frequent service.

Drawback of hub and spoke model

  • Because the model is centralized, day-to-day operations may be relatively inflexible. Changes at the hub, or even in a single route, could have unexpected consequences throughout the network. It may be difficult or impossible to handle occasional periods of high demand between two spokes.
  • Route scheduling is complicated for the network operator. Scarce resources must be used carefully to avoid starving the hub. Careful traffic analysis and precise timing are required to keep the hub operating efficiently.
  • The hub constitutes a bottleneck or single point of failure in the network. Total cargo capacity of the network is limited by the hub's capacity. Delays at the hub (caused, for example, by bad weather conditions) can result in delays throughout the network. Delays at a spoke can also affect the network.
  • Cargo must pass through the hub before reaching its destination, requiring longer journeys than direct point-to-point trips. This trade-off may be desirable for freight, which can benefit from sorting and consolidating operations at the hub, but not for time-critical cargo and passengers.

For Bus Rapid Transit to perform like Light Rail Transit system, transit stations need to be established. Light Rail Transit system use point to point transit model or daisy chain model for route networking.

According to Wikipedia, point-to-point transit refers to a transportation system where a plane, bus or train travels directly to a destination, rather than going through a central hub. This differs from the spoke-hub distribution paradigm in which the transportation goes to a central location where passengers change to another train, bus or plane to reach their destination.

Advantages of point to point transit model
The advantage of a point-to-point system is that it may minimize connections and travel time. The visibility of the route networking is clear. Commuters will find it easy to plan for the travelling.

Disadvantages of point to point transit model
The frequency of trips may be reduced because a point-to-point system requires a large number of combinatorics, as the number of transit station pairs is increased by many magnitudes.

Penang public transit faces the daunting challenge of creating strategies for policies, technologies, infrastructure, and business models that pave a path to the future.
The challenge lies in creating strategies that lead to scalable solutions for meeting growth in demand, including strategies affecting the communication, navigation and transit oriented development.

TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT is the exciting new fast growing trend in creating vibrant, livable communities. Also known as Transit Oriented Design, or TOD, it is the creation of compact, walkable communities centered around high quality transit systems. This makes it possible to live a higher quality life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival.

According to Wikipedia, a transit-oriented development (TOD) is a mixed-use residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership. A TOD neighborhood typically has a center with a transit station or stop (train station, metro station, tram stop, or bus stop), surrounded by relatively high-density development with progressively lower-density development spreading outwards from the center. TODs generally are located within a radius of one-quarter to one-half mile (400 to 800 m) from a transit stop, as this is considered to be an appropriate scale for pedestrians.

One crucial component of transit oriented development is the transit station. Due to lack of lands, the state government need to work with property developer in town planning to build transit stations and transit stops. Transit oriented development should be featured prominently in all the local plans with all transit stations and transit stops clearly identified.

A transit station should has the capacity to accommodate long queue of transit buses during peak hour. It should be designed in such a way to facilitate shuttle buses , feeder buses , taxi or private vehicles that can go off regular routes to pick up and drop off passengers within a defined service area and ferry the commuters to their destination. It should provide sufficient parking space for vehicles waiting to pick up the commuters. It should be built with proper landscape to provide scenic view and commercial outlets .

The transit station should be modeled after the Rest & Service Areas (RSA) while the transit stop should be model after the lay by of North South Expressway. Not only it serve as a drop off and pick up point, it is also serve as a rest area with scenic view for leisure and recreational activities. Such activities around the transit station or the transit stop enlarge its scope from being a transit point to an enlivened public space in the city.

The state government can refer to the online Transportation Demand Management Encyclopedia for strategies in the implementation of transit oriented development.

The following are except from the Transportation Demand Management Encyclopedia of Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

Municipal also called Local Governments are responsible for local infrastructure, services and laws, and so play a key role in the TDM implementation through their influence on nonmotorized facilities (transit station, sidewalks, paths and crosswalks), roadway design and management, public transit services, local land use policies, parking policies, taxes and fees, and traffic enforcement activities.

TDM strategies can help achieve many municipal goals, including reduced traffic and parking congestion, road and parking cost savings, household cost savings, support for more local development and efficient land use (reduced sprawl), improved mobility for non-drivers, improved community livability, improved public fitness and health. Because municipal governments represent the interests of local residents they tend to recognize the diverse benefits of TDM.

Municipal governments can support TDM implementation in the following ways:

  • Learn about TDM and the role it can play in achieving local planning objectives.

Best TDM Strategies

The following strategies are particularly suitable for implementation by community organizations. For more detailed information see the TDM Summary Table.

Access Management

Access management increases coordination between roadway design and land use development patterns to improve transportation system performance, including reduced congestion and accidents, and improved accessibility.

Address Security Concerns

There are various ways to address the security concerns of people using alternative modes such as walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit.

Asset Management

Various policies and programs can help preserve the value of assets such as roadways and parking facilities.

Bicycle Parking

Improved bicycle parking, storage and changing facilities support cycling.

Bike/Transit Integration

There are various ways to improve the integration of bicycling and public transit travel, including improved cycling access and bicycle storage at transit stops and stations, and the ability to carry bikes on transit vehicles.

Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems provide high quality bus service on busy urban corridors.

Car-Free Planning

Car-free planning strategies reduce automobile travel at particular times and places, and to create pedestrian oriented streets.

Change Management

Change Management involves various techniques that help build support for innovation within organizations.

Clustered Land Use

Increased density (number of people or employees located in an area) and clustering (locating related activities close together) tend to reduce travel distances and improve travel options.

Commuter Financial Incentives

Various commuter financial incentives can be used to encourage use of more efficient commute modes. These include parking cash out, travel allowance, transit benefits, and rideshare benefits. They are often provided as an alternative to subsidized employee parking.

Comprehensive Market Reforms

Transportation price and market reforms can encourage more efficient transportation and support TDM objectives.

Comprehensive Transport Planning

Various planning reforms can result in more comprehensive and accurate transportation decision-making. Current planning results in omissions and distortions that tend to overvalue automobile-oriented improvements and undervalue alternative solutions to transportation problems. More comprehensive planning is particularly important when evaluating TDM and alternative modes.


Improved roadway and pathway connectivity tends to improve accessibility and reduce vehicle travel distances.

Context Sensitive Design

Flexible design requirements to reflect community values.

Contingency-Based Planning

Planning that deals with uncertainly by identifying solutions to potential future problems.

Cycling Improvements

There are many ways to improve cycling conditions and encouraging cycling activity, including improved design and maintenance of cycling paths and lanes, improved bicycle parking and changing facilities, and user education and information, and encouragement programs.

Downtowns and Commercial Centers

Creating vibrant downtowns, business districts, urban villages and other accessible, mixed-use activity centers tends to support many TDM strategies.

Emergency Response Transport Management

Mobility management strategies can help improve transportation services during emergencies.

Employee Commute Trip Reduction

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) programs provide encouragement, incentives and support for commuters to use alternative modes, alternative work hours, and other efficient transport options.

Freight Transportation Management

Freight Transport Management increases freight transportation efficiency by shifting improving the quality of efficient freight modes (such as rail and integrated distribution services), providing incentives to use the most efficient option for each type of delivery, increasing load factors, improving logistics, and reducing unnecessary shipping distances and volumes.

Funding Options

There are various ways to fund transport programs, some of which support TDM objectives by charging directly for vehicle use.

HOV Priority

High Occupant Vehicle (HOV) priority strategies give priority to public transit vehicles, vanpools and carpools in traffic and parking.

Institutional Reforms

Institutional reforms include various changes to transportation organizations’ policies and practices that support Transportation Demand Management.

Least-Cost Planning

Least Cost Planning refers to planning and investment reforms that support demand management implementation when overall cost effective. This tends to support TDM policies and programs.

Light Rail Transit

Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems provide convenient local transit service on busy urban corridors.

Location Efficient Development

Location Efficient Development consists of residential and commercial development located and designed to maximize accessibility and overall affordability. Location Efficient Mortgages recognize the household savings at such locations, increasing borrowing ability.

Multi-Modal Access Guide

A Multi-modal Access Guide provides customized directions to a particular destination by various modes.

New Urbanism

New Urbanism (also called Neotraditional Design) includes various design and development practices that create more accessible, walkable, multi-modal, and livable communities. People who live and work in such communities tend to drive less and rely more on alternative modes than in more automobile-dependent locations.

Nonmotorized Facility Management

Nonmotorized facilities such as walkways, sidewalks and paths can be managed to reduce conflicts and improve user convenience and safety.

Nonmotorized Planning

Nonmotorized planning can improve walking and cycling conditions, and encourage use of nonmotorized modes.

Operations and Management

Improved operations and management can encourage more efficient use of existing roadways.


Park & Ride facilities are parking lots at transit stations and stops. They support ridesharing and public transit use.

Parking Management

Various management strategies can result in more efficient use of parking resources. These include sharing, regulating and pricing of parking facilities, more accurate requirements, use of off-site parking facilities, improved user information, and incentives to use alternative modes.

Parking Pricing

Parking pricing involves charging motorists directly for using parking facilities and services, which provides revenue and cost recovery, encourages more efficient use of parking facilities, reduces parking facility costs and land requirements, reduces vehicle traffic and encourages use of alternative modes.

Parking Solutions

Comprehensive menu of solutions to parking problems.

Pricing Methods

Improved pricing methods can reduce the transaction costs and increase the cost efficiency of road tolls, parking fees and mileage charges.

Prioritizing Transport

Principles for prioritizing transportation activities and investments.

Public Transit Encouragement

There are various ways to encourage public transit ridership by improving service, reducing fares, increasing user convenience and information, providing incentives, and supporting marketing programs.


Ridesharing refers to carpooling and vanpooling. Rideshare programs include ridematching services (which help travelers find travel partners), and strategies that give rideshare vehicles priority in traffic and parking.

Road Space Reallocation

Changes in roadway design and management practices can encourage more efficient transportation by providing more space for walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit.

School Transport Management

School Transport Management programs encourage parents, students and staff to reduce automobile trips and use alternative modes when traveling to and from schools.

Shared Parking

Sharing parking facilities among various users can increase efficiency and support various TDM strategies.

Shuttle Services

Shuttle services include circulating shuttle buses, demand response and other special mobility services, jitneys and free transit zones.

Small Wheeled Transport

Small-wheeled vehicles include wheeled luggage, walkers, skates, scooters and handcarts.

Smart Growth

Smart Growth involves various local and regional land use planning practices that create more accessible, multi-modal, efficient and livable communities. This tends to reduce driving and increase use of alternative modes.

Smart Growth Reforms

Various planning, regulatory and fiscal reforms help create more efficient land use. These reforms can help correct existing practices that encourage automobile-dependent land use development patterns.

Special Event Management

Special programs can help managed transportation efficiently during major events, construction projects and emergencies.

Speed Reductions

Reducing traffic speeds tends to improve walking and cycling conditions, increase safety, reduce air and noise pollution, encourage more compact development, and reduce total automobile travel.

Street Reclaiming

Street reclaiming involves various strategies that increase community interaction on neighborhood streets.


Streetscaping involves various ways to redesign roadways (particularly urban arterials) to support more multi-modal transportation and create more attractive and accessible communities.

Sustainable Transportation

TDM can help achieve sustainable transport planning objectives.

Taxi Service Improvements

Taxi service improvements can help support TDM.

TDM Marketing Programs

TDM marketing programs and strategies investigate the types of transportation services people want, identify barriers to alternative modes, and promote use of efficient transport options.

TDM Planning and Implementation

Discusses various issues to consider when planning and implementing Transportation Demand Management programs.

TDM Programs

This chapter discusses different types of transportation management programs, how they are organized and funded, and their role in implementing TDM strategies.

Tourist Transport Management

Tourist Transport Management involves various policies and programs that improve recreational travel options and reduce automobile traffic in resort areas.

Traffic Calming

Traffic Calming refers to various roadway design features intended to reduce traffic speeds and volumes.

Transit Improvements

There are many ways to improve public transit service quality, including increased service speed, frequency, convenience, comfort, user information, affordability and ease of access.

Transit Oriented Development

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) refers to residential and commercial districts located around a transit station or corridor with high quality service, with good walkability, parking management and other design features that facilitate transit use and maximize overall accessibility.

Transportation Management Associations (TMAs)

Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) are member-controlled organizations that provide transportation services in a particular area. They support implementation of many TDM strategies.

Universal Design

Transportation systems can be better designed and managed to accommodate all users, including people with disabilities and other special needs.

Vehicle Use Restrictions

Vehicle use restrictions limit vehicle traffic at a particular time and place.

Walkability Improvements

There are many ways to improve walking conditions and encourage pedestrian transportation, including improved design and maintenance of sidewalks, paths, crosswalks, and better user information.

Walking and Cycling Encouragement

There are many ways to encourage walking and cycling transport, including facility improvements, promotion campaigns, events, educational programs, and development of guides and other information materials.

Wayfinding and other Navigation Tools

Provide wayfinding improvements and other multi-modal navigation tools that offer guidance for walking, cycling, driving and public transit use.

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