Penang Citizen Alternative Transport InitiativeThe elixir of growth that will make Penang livable and accessible in a sustainable way.Ong Eu Soon
1. Why the initiative?Without integrating transportation with land use planning, 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. We need a transit oriented land use policy that gear towards transportation improvements to make land more accessible and so increase the likelihood that it will be developed or redeveloped. Unfortunately, we only have policies that make our transportation worst and our traffic congestion become chaotic.
The wanton changes that made to the development density against the permissible maximum density with total disregard to traffic management is contributing to serious environmental problems and urban sprawl. What is an urban sprawl? The rapid expansion of metropolitan areas through building housing developments and shopping centers farther and farther from urban centers and lacing them together with more and more major highways. Widespread development that has occurred without any overall land-use plan. This is the type of development envisaged by Lim Guan Eng administration, it is characterized by high densities, few transportation options, and rigid separation of residences, jobs, and shops, that will exacerbate air and water pollution, noise pollution, habitat loss, and a decline in ecosystem functions. It can also increase the demands on the road system and reduce the efficiency of the system, as the same number of people and same level of economic activity generates more and longer trips. Managing these challenges is particularly demanding when transportation and land use are planned separately, as they are in most localities.
The worst thing that ever happened to us is the way money was spent on transit infrastructure that do not benefit us. For example the RM2 billion Penang Sentral, another white elephant that do not serve to upgrade the transport services. There is also talk about some RM8billion infrastructure projects which include the 6.5km tunnel job (from Gurney Drive to Butterworth), the Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru-Air Itam bypass and the Tanjung Bungah-Batu Ferringhi-Teluk Bahang paired road. Those are the solutions that will eventually lead to urban sprawl.
The state government only need about RM650 million to implement all the proposals in this initiative. Why wasting our money in the tunes of billions for white elephant projects when we can have an affordable transit solution?
Therefore it is imperative for us to initiate a Bus Rapid Transit solution complement by cycling and pedestrian travel to solve our traffic woes. Further more, we need this initiative to defeat the the expected toll hike upon the completion of Penang Second Bridge. We should not wait for Lim Guan Eng administration or the federal government to find way to understand and respond to the inextricably link between land use and public transport in a way that fulfills natural resource and quality-of-life objectives while fulfilling community economic objectives.
2. Statement of Vision
Provide an economically and ecologically sustainable cost effective public transit system that moves people away from over-dependence on private transport.
This is captured in the simple motto:
3. Benefits of Public Transport Initiatives
The benefits of public transport initiatives is as follows:
|Time saving benefits to transit users|| |
|Time saving benefits to mixed traffic vehicles|| |
|Fuels saving from public transport operations|| |
|Air quality improvements (reduced emissions of CO, NOx, PM, and SOx|| |
|Greenhouse gas emission reductions|| |
|Noise and vibration reductions|| |
|Other environment improvements|| |
|Transit system employment|| |
|Amenity benefits to transit passengers|| |
|City image|| |
|Urban form|| |
(sourec: Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide)
4. Bus Rapid Transit
The following subsections are excerpts from Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide of IDTP:
- Introduction to public transport technologies
- Public transport topologies
- Type of public transport topologies
- Criteria in technology selection
- Vehicle Station Interface
- Off-board fare collection and fare verification
- Platform level boarding
“The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple.” -Freeman Dyson, physicist, 1923-
4.2 Public transport topologies
Public transport in its broadest sense refers to collective passenger services. It can thus include the assortment of both the para-transit and formal services found in cities around the world. Public transport thus encompasses shared taxis,mini-vans, conventional bus services, BRT, water based services, and rail based services.
More specifically, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a collective urban passengers service that operates at high level of customer performance, especially with regard to travel times and passenger carrying capacity. Mass Rapid Transit can achieve reduced travel times through the provision of widely accessible networks, higher speed vehicles, exclusive right of way infrastructure, special limited stop or express services, efficient rate collection systems, and /or faster boarding and alighting techniques. Higher carrying capacities may also be achieved through larger vehicles, multiple sets of vehicles(ie., bus platoon or a train), and/or more frequent services.
4.3 Type of public transport topologies
The following defines the major categories of public transport topologies. No one of these options is inherently correct or incorrect. Local conditions and local preferences play a significant role in determining the preferred system type.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)- Bus based technology typically operating on exclusive right of way lanes at the surface level; in some cases underpasses or tunnels are utilised to provide grade separation at intersections or in dense city centers.
Light Rail Transit (LRT) – Electric rail-based technology operating either as a single rail car or as a short train of cars, typically on exclusive right of way lanes at the surface level with overhead electrical connectors.
Trams – Trams can also be considered as a type of LRT, but typically utilised smaller sized carriages and may share road space with other forms of traffic.
Underground metro – A heavy rail transit system operating on grade separated tracks that are located principally underground.
Elevated rail transit - A rail transit system operating on grade separated tracks that are located principally on an aerial structure; elevated systems can also considered a form of metro.
Suburban rail - A heavy rail transit system operating on exclusive right of way tracks that are located at the surface level but generally grade separated; typically carries passengers between suburban and urban locations; differs from other urban rail systems by the fact that carriages are heavier and the distances traveled are usually longer.
Personal rapid transit (PRT) - A rail or wheel based system carrying passengers in small Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV) ; PRT typically operates on exclusive rights of way lanes that may also be grade separated. The ideas behind PRT is to combine the flexibility of taxi services with the automation of fixed track systems. More suitable for high density apartments or flats to transfer passengers or goods to transit stations.
4.4 Criteria in technology selection
The decision to select a particular technology depends upon many factors. Costs, performance characteristics, local conditions, and personal preferences have historically all played a role in the decision making process.
Factors in choosing a type of public transport technology
|Planning and management|| |
Public transport decision matrix
|Metro rail / elevated rail systems||High to very high passenger demand (30,000 to 80,000 pphpd)|| || |
(US$45million to US$350million per km)
|Light rail transit (LRT)||Moderate passenger demand (5,000 to 12,000 pphpd)|| || |
|Bus rapid transit (BRT)||Low to high passenger demand (3,000 to 45,000 pphpd)|| || |
|Low passenger demand (500 to 5,000 pphpd)|| || |
The infrastructure costs is a pre-eminent decision making factor. Without the federal funding and support, the state government is unable to undertake any project that involved huge investment. BRT is the preference as it is low cost and can be undertake by private business entity. The planning,development and implementation also shorter compare to all other type of public transport topologies. A BRT system will likely permit a city to build a network 4 to 20 times more extensive than a tram or light rail system if the same budget is applied to both technologies. Thus, BRT is capable of providing more value for the given investment.
The relative robustness of capital cost projections is also an important consideration. Higher cost options tends to demonstrate greater disparity between projected and actual costs. As the estimated budget increases, a greater range of variables may tend to create uncertainty in the figures. This disparity translates into greater financial risk for those undertaking the project.
The long term financial sustainability of a public transport projects is highly dependent upon the on going operating costs of the system. These costs can include vehicle amortisation, labour, fuel, maintenance, and spare parts. If a system requires on-going subsidies, the financial strain can end up affecting the effectiveness of both the municipal government and the public transport service to customer. The level of operating cost will often also be related to the expected fare levels of service, and thus will ultimately affect affordability and issue of social equity.
Ideally, a public transport transport project can be planned and implemented within a single political term. This short time span would provide an additional incentive, as the project initiator would want to finish the project in time to reap the political rewards.
BRT planning typically can be completed in a 12 month to 18 month time horizon.
4.6 Corridor Identification
4.6.1 Penang Outer Ring Rapid Transit CorridorWe can have our own BRT connecting Telok Pahang to Batu Maung if we established the route that pass through Telok Pahang, Batu Feringgi, Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Tokong, Gurney Drive, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Lebuh Farquhar, Lebuh Light , Lebuh Pantai , Lebuh Downing , Pengkalan Weld, Lebuhraya Lim Chong Eu and Batu Maung as the Penang Outer Ring Rapid Transit Corridor.
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.
We need central transit corridors to provide the interconnection for the existing conventional bus system to improve the route networking visibility.
The BRT servicing routes for the central rapid transit corridors :
4.6.3 Penang Mainland Rapid Transit Corridor
We need the BRT to provide efficient bus service for connecting the various towns on the mainland using the old federal trunk road.
The route for the Penang Mainland Rapid Transit Corridor should connect the following towns at the old federal trunk road:
Butterworth, Chain Ferry, Prai, Bukit Tengah, Bukit Tinggi, Simpang Ampang, Valdor, Sungai Bakap, Nibong Tebal.
4.6.4 Bridge Express Shuttle Transit CorridorBridge Express Shuttle Transit is the safe, stress free and convenient way to travel to work. Currently Rapid Penang provides the following Bridge Express Shuttle Transit services.
184.108.40.206 BEST A RouteMorning Trip -Sunway Carnival Hub to Bukit Jambul Hub
There are 9 journeys by BEST A each morning using five buses, four of which make 2 trips. The journeys start from Sunway Carnival at 5:30 am, 5:50 am, 6:10 am, 6:30 am, 6:50 am, 7:10 am, 7:30 am, 7:50 am and 8:10 am. The stops are:Sunway Carnival-Penang Bridge Toll Plaza (10 min later) - Queensbay Mall (18 min later) - Seagate (3 min later) - PSDC (1 min later) - Osram (1 min later) - Towam (5 min later) - BBraun (2 min later) - Sunshine Square (5 min later) - Bukit Jambul (13 min later) - Sunway Carnival* (23 min later).
* only for buses making two trips.
Evening Trip - Bukit Jambul Hub to Sunway Carnival Hub
There are 9 journeys by BEST A each evening using five buses, four of which make 2 trips. The journeys start from Bukit Jambul at 4:30 pm, 4:50 pm, 5:10 pm, 5:30 pm, 5:50 pm, 6:20 pm, 6:40 pm, 7:00 pm and 7:20 pm. The stops are:
Bukit Jambul - Osram (7 min later) - Towam (4 min later) - BBraun (3 min later) - Jalan Tengah (5 min later) - PSDC (5 min later) - Seagate (3 min later) - Tun Dr Awang Roundabout (9 min later) - Penang Bridge (10 min later) - Perai Jaya (28 min later) - Sunway Carnival (7 min later) - Bukit Jambul* (27 min later).
* only for buses making two trips.
220.127.116.11 BEST B RouteMorning Trip - Sunway Carnival Hub to Bukit Jambul Hub
There are 9 journeys by BEST B each morning using five buses, four of which make 2 trips. The journeys start from Sunway Carnival at 5:30 am, 5:50 am, 6:10 am, 6:30 am, 6:50 am, 7:10 am, 7:30 am, 7:50 am and 8:10 am. The stops are:Sunway Carnival - Penang Bridge Toll Plaza (10 min later) - Queensbay Mall (18 min later) - Intel (5 min later) - Jabil (3 min later) - PSDC (2 min later) - Seagate (3 min later) - Sunshine Square (4 min later) - PISA (1 min later) - Bukit Jambul (3 min later) - Sunway Carnival* (28 min later).
* only for buses making two trips.
Evening Trip - Bukit Jambul Hub to Sunway Carnival Hub
There are eight journeys by BEST B each evening using five buses, three of which make 2 trips. The journeys start from Bukit Jambul at 4:30 pm, 4:55 pm, 5:20 pm, 5:45 pm, 6:10 pm, 6:35 pm, 7:00 pm and 7:25 pm. The stops are:
Bukit Jambul - Intel (6 min later) - Jabil (5 min later) - AMD (2 min later) - Kastam (1 min later) - PSDC (2 min later) - Seagate (3 min later) - Tun Dr Awang Roundabout (10 min later) - Penang Bridge (10 min later) - Perai Jaya (27 min later) - Sunway Carnival (12 min later) - Bukit Jambul* (46 min later).
* only for buses making two trips.
18.104.22.168 BEST C RouteMorning Trip - Sunway Carnival Hub to Bukit Jambul Hub There are nine journeys by BEST C each morning using six buses, three of which make 2 trips. The journeys start from Sunway Carnival at 5:30 am, 5:50 am, 6:10 am, 6:30 am, 6:50 am, 7:10 am, 7:30 am, 7:50 am and 8:10 am. The stops are:Sunway Carnival - Penang Bridge Toll Plaza (10 min later) - Queensbay Mall (18 min later) - Seagate (4 min later) - Jabil (3 min later) - Schenker (2 min later) - Pentamaster (2 min later) - Zhulian (2 min later) - Dell/Dufu (4 min later) - Bukit Jambul (9 min later) - Sunway Carnival* (38 min later)* only for buses making two trips.
Evening Trip - Bukit Jambul Hub to Sunway Carnival Hub
There are ten journeys by BEST B each evening using six buses, four of which make 2 trips. The journeys start from Bukit Jambul at 4:30 pm, 4:50 pm, 5:10 pm, 5:30 pm, 5:50 pm, 6:10 pm, 6:30 pm, 6:50 pm, 7:10 pm and 7:30 pm. The stops are:
Bukit Jambul - Seagate (6 min later) - Jabil (3 min later) - Schenker (3 min later) - Pentamaster (2 min later) - Zhulian (2 min later) - Dell/Dufu (6 min later) - Tun Dr Awang Roundabout (15 min later) - Penang Bridge (8 min later) - Perai Jaya (22 min later) - Sunway Carnival (10 min later) - Bukit Jambul* (31 min later).
* only for buses making two trips.
The return trips of the BEST is now empty, it should be used to ferry those who stay in the island to the various industrial zones in the main land. The state government should negotiate with Bukit Jambul Complex to provide parking space for this purpose. The Sungai Nibong pesta car park can be used for the BEST park and ride scheme as well.
Rapid Penang should launch free feeder bus service from Sunway Carnival for commuters to go to the various industrial zones, i.e. Bukit Tengah Industrial Park, Prai Industrial Estate, and Mak Mandin Industrial Estate. This will help reduce the operating cost of BEST services and gain more ridership.
To make the BEST system work more efficiently, a monthly pass can be introduced for commuters to enjoy attractive season parking rates at designated sites as well as "chauffered convenience", via public transport. This will ease the planning of Rapid Penang.
4.7 The Factors affecting the performance of BRT
4.7.1 Vehicle Station Interface
Fig. 1: Transit Station of Curitiba BRT
Fig. 2.: Transit station of Bogota BRT
The innovation introduced by Curitiba system, beginning in 1974, profoundly shaped the course of BRT. In particular, 4 of the most important innovations from Curitiba involved the vehicle-station interface:
- Pre-board fare collection and fare verification;
- At-level, platform boarding;
- Efficient vehicle alignment to station;
- Wide, multiple doorways;
- Sufficient customer space on station platform.
Most BRT systems since Curitiba have instituted external or off-board fare collection and fare verification. Passengers pay their fare prior to entering the station, and then have their fare verified as they pass the entry turnstile.
With most conventional bus services, the driver is responsible for the collection of fares as well as driving the vehicle, and passengers are only allowed to enter through the front door. Thus, on-board fare collection means that boarding time is largely determined by the fare collection activity. If the fare collection is slow, the whole public transport service is slow. Typically passengers take from 2 to 4 seconds just to pay the driver. If the driver also have to give passengers change manually, even longer delays are seen. Once passenger flows reach a certain point, the delay and time loss associated with on-board fare collection become a significant system liability.
Off-board payment also facilitates free transfers within the system. The enclosed, controlled stations also give the system another level of security, as the stations can be better protected by security personal, and thus discouraging theft and other undesirable activities. It will also eliminate the fare discrepancies problem associated with on -board payment system.
4.7.3 Platform level boardingTo further reduce boarding and alighting times,most state of art BRT systems have introduced platform level boarding. With platform level boarding, the stopping bay platform is designed to be the same height as the vehicle floor. This allow for fast boarding and alighting, and also allows easier access for the persons with wheelchairs, parents with strollers, young children and the elderly.
Fig. 3: Platform level boarding – Curitiba BRT
Fig. 4: Platform level boarding – Bogota BRT
4.7.4 Choice of vehicleSelection of BRT vehicle must be carefully planned as it influences every aspect of transit performance. BRT vehicle characteristics affect overall levels of service in terms of speed, reliability, capacity and cost.
For selection of BRT vehicles following aspects must be taken into consideration.
- External dimension and capacity
- Internal Layout
- Doors and Aisle Width
- Multiple doorways
- Floor Height
4.7.5 Implementation StrategyThe BRT buses should run every 15 minutes during peak hour periods and make fewer stops than local bus service between those locations. During peak hour periods, all private vehicles should be discourage from using the routes on the rapid transit corridors. All side parking on the routes of the rapid transit corridors should be strictly prohibited during designated peak hour periods. Dedicated bus lanes can be designated along Pengkalan Weld and Lebuhraya Lim Chong Eu.
4.8 StationsTo maximize flexibility and reduce the need for transfers, stations will be located at key points along the busway where passengers can connect to other modes of travel (e.g. cycling, local transit service). The impact of BRT systems on reducing traffic congestion and air pollution is even greater when the stations incorporate facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians. All the stations should be incorporate with free bicycle storage facilities , segregated cycling facilities and pedestrian walkway.
Fig. 6: Bogota BRT station with pedestrian walkway
- Teluk Bahang station
- Batu Ferrighi station
- Tanjung Bungah station
- Tanjung Tokong station
- Gurney Drive station
- Esplanade station
- Weld Quay station
- Rapid Penang Bus depot at Lebuhraya Lim Chong Eu
- Macalum station
- Sungai Pinang station
- Tunku Kudin station
- Tesco station
- The Light station
- N Park station
- Queenbay station
- FTZ station
- Batu Maung station
- Komtar station
- Air Itam station
- Paya Terubung station
- Jalan Masjid Negri station
- Caring Society Complex station
- Youth Park station
- Gottlieb station
- Dato Keramat station
- Time Square station
- Nibong Tebal station
- Sungai Bakap station
- Valdor station
- Simpang Ampang station
- Bukit Tinggi station
- Bukit Tengah station
- Prai station
- Chain Ferry station
- Penang Sentral station (Butterworth)
Penang Hill lately has been plagued with controversy after controversy since the upgrading of the funicular train system. The frequent breakdown of the new funicular train system, the construction of a Kancil car park full of flaws, and the controversial and dystopian sheltered walkway, the resulting chaos due to tour buses and cars parked haphazardly, the resulting traffic congestion and long beeline of queue as thousands of tourists swamped the area, all these are the by product of the piecemeal approach adopted by Lim Guan Eng administration towards development.
If you think that enough is enough, another scandalous decision to allow the Kek Lo Si temple to build a 1000 car park is threatening to plague the built environment with disastrous destruction and worsen the alredy bad traffic in Air Hitam. Renowned architect Dr Jimmy Lim Cheok Siang, who has been hand picked by Lim Guan Eng to undertake the Penang Hill facelift project, when commented on this scandalous decision described the move like pumping large volume of blood into an already choked blood vein, a move that will have Penangites heart attack.
We have witnessed Lim Guan Eng and Ting Hock Nam spar over the Penang Hill development. How Lim Guan Eng vehemently denied that there is a plan to resume the proposed development by Berjaya in Penang Hill. Now suddenly there is news that Lim Guan Eng administration has approved a 1000 car park facilities for Kek Lo Si temple. The project will involved excavation, trees removal and major landscape change. It also encourage private car use on an already congested road at Air Hitam.
For the Penang Hill station, even if the Kancil car park is not mired in sloppy design controversy, it can hardly cope with the demand for parking space. Lim Guan Eng administration should discourage the people from using their private cars to go to Penang Hill or Kek Lo Si temple. The state government can arrange with RapidPenang to provide shuttle bus services in a Park and Ride scheme. The shopping complexes or malls play an important role of providing parking facilities to commuters. Without parking facilities, it will be very hard to persuade commuters to opt for public transports or carpooling. Most shopping complexes would be happy to provide the parking facilities at nominal fees in order to attract commuters to their complexes especially during economy downturn. The state government should encourage shopping malls like Tesco and Sunshine Falim to allocate parking lots to help provide parking spaces for the Park and Ride facilities. People can park their cars at Tesco or Sunshine Falim and take a shuttle bus to Penang Hill or Kek Lo Si temple. RapidPenang and the shopping malls will not be able to reject the offer as the number of tourist that go to both destination amount to nearby 10 thousand during public holiday session. The shopping mall can help to adsorb the cost of travelling ticket for those who purchase above certain amount at their shopping malls.
For those who prefer to use their private vehicle, an exorbitant parking fees should be leveraged to discourage them from using their own vehicle. The road leading to the Penang Hill or Kek Lo Si temple should be classified as towing zone. Any car parked haphazardly should be towed away immediately.
5. BRT Infrastructure Investment
Successful implementation of BRT requires working closely planned highway projects to insure that BRT infrastructure is incorporated. Another element critical to the success of BRT is to provide the necessary level of investment to support the increased ridership demand that all the corridors will experience. This investment includes capital for BRT infrastructure and annual funding to pay for operating, maintenance and administrative costs.
Attached with this initiative is the initial BRT infrastructure cost that the state government should invest in to make the BRT a reality.
6. Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel
Access trips to public transportation are often for short distances, and these trips are excellent candidates for shifting people from single occupancy motor vehicle (SOY) use to bicycle or pedestrian or intermodal trips. The inability of conventional bus system to provide comprehensive feeder bus services means we need to find way to provide for the optimal use of both non-motorized and public transportation by linking bicycle, pedestrian and transit travel, and to develop programs which will increase transit ridership through improved bicycle and pedestrian access.
Nearly all transit customers are pedestrians, and in the Netherlands, Japan and other places around the world, as much as 35% of ridership access is by bicycle. Bogota, Paris, Curitiba, Portland, Seattle, Burlington and Phoenix have all provided bicycle parking docks and publicly shared bicycle scheme on their public bus systems, and have experienced ridership increases.
6.1 The Bike Sharing Phenomenon
– The History ,Impacts, Models of Provision, and Future by Paul deMaio (2008)Bike-sharing programmes have received increasing attention in recent years as an answer to public's desire to increase bicycle usage and lessen the environmental impact of transportation. Originally a concept from the revolutionary 1960s, bike-sharing's growth had been slow until new technology spurred a rapid expansion of this innovative concept.
Bicycles have several advantages as a mode of transportation for short-distance urban trips; they reach under-served areas, required less infrastructure and generally do not add to congestion. In addition, they are relatively inexpensive to purchase and maintain, do not create pollution in their operation, and provide user with exercise. Their value is undeniable when one also considers that these bicycles may increase trips on other modes of public transportation by expanding the reach of trains and buses.
There have been 3 generations of bike-sharing system over the past 40 years. The first generation began 1964 in Amsterdam with the Witte Fletsen or White Bikes. Ordinary bikes painted white were provided for public use. Individual were to find a bike, ride it to their destination, and leave it for the next user. Things didn't go as planned, as bikes were thrown into the canals or appropriated for private use, so the programme collapsed within days.
Nearly 30 years later, a second generation was launched in Copenhagen called Bycyklen, or City Bikes, with many improvements over the previous generation. These bikes were specially designed for intense utilitarian use with solid rubber tyres, wheels with advertising plates, and could be picked up and returned at specific locations throughout the central city with a coin deposit. While more formalised than previous generation- with stations and an organisation to operate the programme – these bikes still experienced theft due to the anonymity of the customer.
A new breed of bike-sharing was seen soon after in 1996 at Portsmouth University in England with Bikeabout. This involved using a magnetic stripe card which the student would swipe to rent a bike. This and the following third generation systems were 'smartened' with a variety of technological improvements including electronically locking racks or bike locks, telecommunication systems, smart cards, mobile phone access and on-board computers. Bike sharing grew slowly in the following years until the launch of Velo'v in Lyon, France caused a stir.
Before bike-sharing, Lyon wasn't a bike-friendly city – only 1.5% of trips were made by bikes. After Lyon created more bike facilities and introduced its Velo'v programme in 2005, bicycling increased as more felt safer cycling. Bike traffic has jumped around 500% since the launch of Velo'v with one quarter of this increase coming from bike-sharing. Velo'v reported 1.5million km travelled by customers in June 2008, and 36 million km since the programme inception in 2005. This equates to 7,260 tons of CO2. saved for the same distance travelled by cars.
As the success of the France's second city became known, the capital took note. In 2007, Paris launched it owns bike-sharing programme, Vélib' , with about 10,600 bikes soon expanded to 20,600 bikes. This massive undertaking and its better than expected success changed the course of bike-sharing history and generated enormous interest in this transit mode around the world.
To date, bike-sharing programmes have been offered as a bonus to local governments by advertising companies, such as the big three of JCDecaux, Clear Channel and Cemusa. The municipality gets a bike-sharing programme run by the advertising company while they gain locations for their adverts in public space. It's a convenient deal for governments who can't afford to provide the service otherwise.
As the demand for bike-sharing increased, more companies became involved in the industry and created their own technologies. Many of the new systems have no advertising component, but rather require direct subsidy from the local government in addition to user fees to be financially sustainable. These new bike-sharing systems allow jurisdictions and universities either with population too small to make advertising profitable or where advertising on public space is prohibited, to consider launching their own services.
As we approach 100 bike-sharing programmes worldwide with as many as 10 times this planned, the future of bike-sharing is bright. Gerald Collomb, the President of Greater Lyon, said, “there are two type of mayors; those who have bike-sharing and those who want bike-sharing.” This certainly seems to be the case as each bike-sharing programme creates more interest in this form of transit- call it a virtuous cycle.
Europe certainly has the lion's share of programmes due to forward-thinking elected officials and a greater commitment tocycling in general, but the ideas is finally taking hold elsewhere. In the east, New Zealand realised three programmes this year and China one. North America saw its first couple of programmes late this past summer with the launch of Washington, DC's programme, followed by three additional programmes in Denver, Minneapolis, Montreal. Each bike fleet was small, but plans for the four cities include expansion. Many other cities and universities throughout North America are in the process of selecting their bike-sharing vendor. South America's first bike-sharing programme opens in November in Rio de Janeiro with a handful of others for 2009, including Buenos Aires and Santiago. The Middle East should see its first programme soon in Tel Aviv, and Melbourne and Brisbane are on their way in Australia.
As the price of fuel continuous to rise, traffic congestion worsens, population grows, and a greater world-wide consciousness arises around the climate change, it will be even more necessary for leaders around the world to find modes of transportation to move people in environmentally sound, efficient and economically feasible ways. Fortunately, bike sharing fits these needs and not a moment too soon. Not a panacea, as bike-sharing is a complementary mode of transport and another tool in the toolbox of public transportation.
Fig.7: Vélib' Bikes of Paris, France
Fig. 8: Oybike in London, UK
6.1.1 Bike-sharing’s Impacts
Bike-sharing has had profound affects on creating a larger cycling population, increasing transit use, decreasing greenhouse gases, and improving public health. It has had the affect of raising bike mode share between 1.0 - 1.5 percent in cities with pre-existing low cycling use. Cycle mode share in Barcelona was 0.75 per-cent in 2005 and increased to 1.76 percent in 2007, the year Bicing was launched (Romero 2008). In Paris, cycle mode share increased from about 1 percent in 2001 to 2.5 percent in 2007, the year Vélib’ was launched (Nadal 2007; City of Paris 2007). Cycle facility improvements were made in both cities during these time periods; however, it is difficult to extract the affects the new facilities had on cycle use.
Transit use increases in cities with bike-sharing due to the new bike transit trips, improved connectivity to other modes of transit due to the first mile/last mile solution bike-sharing helps solve, and decreased personal vehicle trips. While bike-sharing trips do replace some trips previously made on other modes of transit (50 percent in the case of Velo’v in Lyon), “[t]he loss of customers for public transport services is quite low as many users are still holders of a public transport pass” (NICHES 2007). The City of Paris reported 50 million trips made by Vélib’ in its first two years. In 2008, 28 percent of the survey respondents were less likely to use their personal vehicle; in 2009, this increased to 46 percent. In 2008, 21 percent of survey respondents used Vélib’ to reach the subway, train, or bus, and 25 percent used Vélib’ on the return trip from other transit modes. In 2009, 28 percent used Vélib’ to begin and to end their multi-leg transit trip (City of Paris 2008, 2009).
Many bike-sharing programs take pride in their environmental contribution. Montreal’s Bixi proudly states that its program has saved over 3,000,000 pounds of greenhouse gases since inception in May 2009 (Bixi 2009a). Lyon states that its program, which launched in 2005, has saved the equivalent of 18,600,000 pounds of CO2 pollution from the atmosphere (Greater Lyon 2009). The public health benefits of bike-sharing have yet to be analyzed; however, the health benefits of cycling are well-known (Andersen et al. 2000; Cavill and Davis 2006; Shepard 2008).
6.1.2 Models of ProvisionSince bike-sharing’s inception, various models of provision have existed (Büh-rmann 2008). As illustrated in Figure 2, bike-sharing providers have included governments, quasi-governmental transport agencies, universities, non-profits, advertising companies, and for-profits. This section discusses the benefits and detriments of each model.
In the government model, the locality operates the bike-sharing service as it would any other transit service. The government of Burgos, Spain, purchased and oper-ates an off-the-shelf bike-sharing system called Bicibur (Civitas 2009). With this model, the government as operator has greater control over the program. On the other hand, it may not have the experience that existing bike-sharing operators have in managing a program. Also, the government maintains the liability for the program, which can be less desirable from a government’s perspective. The transport agency model has a quasi-governmental organization providing the service. The transport agency’s customer is a jurisdiction, region, or nation. Transport agencies, such as Deutsche Bahn of Germany and Stationnement de Montréal, are prime examples. Deutsche Bahn is the national railway provider of Germany and operates a car-sharing and Call a Bike bike-sharing service. Station-nement de Montréal, the parking authority of Montréal, provides “management of municipal paid on-street and off-street parking” and the Bixi bike-sharing service. Both organizations have gotten into bike-sharing as an extension of their other transport offerings to be a well-rounded mobility provider (Deutsche Bahn 2009; Stationnement de Montréal 2009).
The benefit of the quasi-government transport agency model is that the jurisdic-tion benefits from the experience and innovation of the bike-sharing service pro-vider, especially in the case of national Deutsche Bahn, without needing to develop the capabilities internally. Additionally, both the jurisdiction and transport agency’s top priority is to provide a useful transit service, rather than generating revenues, which is discussed in more detail below as a detriment in the advertising company and for-profit models. A detriment of this model is that, without the locality releasing a tender for the service, a more qualified operator may exist than the transport agency operator.
The university model has the educational institution providing the service, most likely in a campus setting. Examples are the former program at the University of Portsmouth, England, and newer incarnations such as that of St. Xavier University in Chicago (Black and Potter undated; DeMaio 2008b). The benefit of this model is the university can expand its intra-campus transit service without relying on the jurisdiction to offer sufficient bike-sharing service on campus. A detriment is the surrounding jurisdiction potentially would not benefit from the service unless it was opened to the adjacent neighborhoods. Also, if the locality were to use another system, there could be compatibility issues with the university’s system.
The non-profit model has an organization which was either expressly created for the operation of the service or one that folds the bike-sharing service into its exist-ing interests. Examples of non-profit programs include the City Bike Foundation of Copenhagen, which operates Bycyklen, and the Nice Ride Minnesota program in Minneapolis (City Bike Foundation of Copenhagen undated; Nice Ride Minnesota 2009). While the non-profit operates the program, it usually receives funding from the jurisdiction for the service it provides to the public in addition to collecting the revenues generated by membership and usage fees and sponsorships (Nice Ride Minnesota 2009). The non-profit model benefits the locality as it removes liability from it and places the liability on the non-profit which has limited funding and is less likely to be sued. A detriment of this model is the non-profit can be reliant on the public sector for a majority of its funding (Nice Ride Minnesota 2009).
With the advertising company model, companies such as JCDecaux, Clear Chan-nel Outdoor, and Cemusa offer a bike-sharing program to a jurisdiction, usually in exchange for the right to use public space to display revenue-generating advertisements on billboards, bus shelters, and kiosks. The benefit of this model is it can be convenient and cost-effective for local governments that could not afford to provide the bike-sharing service otherwise. To date, this model has been the most popular. A detriment with the advertising company model is the problem of moral hazard. The advertising company usually does not benefit from revenues generated by the system, as the revenues usually go to the jurisdiction, so the advertising company may not have the same incentive to operate the program as if the revenues were directly related to their level of service, regardless of what they agreed to in a service contract. This is highlighted in Paris by the statement by the director general of JCDecaux that its contract with Paris is unsustainable due to the unexpectedly high level of theft and vandalism the program has experienced:
“It’s simple. All the receipts go to the city. All the expenses are ours” (BBC 2009). In one case in particular, the advertising company provides the bike-sharing service for a fee and not for an advertising contract. In Barcelona, B:SM (Barce-lona de Serveis Municipals), a company owned by the city, has contracted with Clear Channel Outdoor to operate the service (Barcelona de Serveis Municipals undated). This model is more similar to the transport provider model, as the con-tractor happens to be an advertising company but its advertising services are not used.
In the for-profit model, a private company provides the service with limited or no government involvement. Nextbike is a prime example of this model, with a local business running the service in a locality with the off-the-shelf flexible station sys-tem. While similar to the advertising company model, this model differs as there is no on-street advertising contract with the locality and the for-profit keeps all revenues generated. A benefit of this model is that the private sector can start a service as an entrepreneurial activity rather than wait for the public sector to do so. A detriment is that the for-profit may not receive funding assistance for the service as do programs offered under other models. Additionally, if the for-profit uses a fixed, versus flexible, system, they would need to have the locality’s support
to use public space, unless all stations are on private property.
There is no one ideal model that works best in all jurisdictions. There are factors that affect which models can be used and include the size of the jurisdiction and availability of both bike-sharing systems able to operate in the country and local entrepreneurs to run the program. The size of a jurisdiction is an important factor, as the predominant model of advertising companies providing bike-sharing service tends to be mostly in larger cities where the potential for views of advertising, and therefore advertising revenue, is the greatest.
Demand for bike-sharing has been around longer in Europe than in other con-tinents, and the bike-sharing industry has grown more quickly, which has led to a more rapid growth of programs in European countries. From the continent to the national level, home-grown systems generally dominate in the countries in which they are headquartered. For example, Bicincitta’ is headquartered in Italy and has the majority of programs offered there. Both Call a Bike and nextbike are headquartered in Germany and have the majority of programs there. The German government’s subsidization of Deutsche Bahn, which offers the Call a Bike service, also has an effect on its growth nationally.
6.1.3 CostsThe capital and annual operating costs of programs vary greatly, depending on the system, population density, service area, and fleet size. Capital costs include fabrication of the bikes and stations, license or purchase of the back-end system used to operate the equipment, member access cards (if necessary), purchase or rental of maintenance and distribution vehicles, and installation. Clear Channel Outdoor’s SmartBike system is estimated to have capital costs of around $3,600 per bicycle; JCDecaux’s Cyclocity system is estimated at $4,400 per bicycle; and Bixi is estimated to be $3,000 per bicycle (New York City Department of City Planning 2009). Nice Ride Minnesota is planning to launch in 2010 using Bixi and estimates $3,200 per bike (Twin Cities Bike Share 2008).
Operating costs include maintenance, distribution, staff, insurance, office space, storage facilities, website hosting and maintenance, and electricity (if necessary). New York City’s analysis of several systems concludes an average operating cost of about $1,600 per bicycle (New York City Department of City Planning 2009). Minneapolis expects the same (Twin Cities Bike Share 2008).
6.1.4 Bike-sharing’s 4th GenerationWhat will the 4th generation of bike-sharing look like? As the 3rd generation of bike-sharing brought about smartening of the concept with smartcards, mobile phones, and kiosks with screens, the hallmark of the 4th generation will be improved efficiency, sustainability, and usability. This is being accomplished by improving distribution of bikes, installation, powering of stations, tracking, offer-ing pedalec (pedal assistance) bikes, and new business models.
6.1.5 Improved DistributionDistribution of bikes must improve to make the bike-sharing service more efficient and environmentally friendly. Staff moving bikes from areas of high supply/low demand to areas of low supply/high demand is time consuming, expensive, and polluting. Programs will create “push” and “pull” stations which will either encour-age trips to leave or arrive, respectively, at these stations based on the demand for bikes. Incentives will include free time, credit, or cash. Vélib’ has made an improvement in this area with the launch of its “V+” concept, reports Velib et Moi - Le Blog. As it requires more physical effort and time for cus-tomers to reach uphill stations, V+ gives an extra 15 minutes to access about 100 of these designated uphill stations. The extra time given has encouraged greater use of these stations. Within the first three months of V+ being offered in Summer 2008, 314,443 instances of 15-minute credits were given. These extra 15-minute bonuses also may be saved up when not used during the trip to the V+ station (Vélib’ 2008). Free bike-on-transit capabilities adjacent to specific stations could also assist in pushing bikes uphill where bike-sharers could board another mode of transit. Luud Schimmelpennick, a co-inventor of the bike-sharing concept, reports the operational cost of JCDecaux’s distribution of bicycles is about $3 each (Schim-melpennick 2009). He believes paying customers for distribution to stations that need more bikes, either through providing a customer credit towards future use or paying the customer outright, would increase distribution efficiency at a fraction of the present cost.
6.1.6 Ease of InstallationInstalling a station takes time and is costly, with removal of asphalt or pavers, undergrounding of the structure and wires, hook-up to a nearby electrical source, and replacement of building materials. Public Bike System has limited this expense with its “technical platform,” which is the bike-sharing station’s base and houses the wires for its bike dock and pay station. The technical platform is placed on the ground without need for construction, as its weight and minimal bolting to the ground are sufficient to keep it in place (Public Bike System undated)
6.1.7 Powering StationsThe powering of stations has generally been with underground wiring to the near-est electrical source. This is expensive, time consuming, and affects where stations may be located. It also prohibits the easy relocation of the station due to the cost.
Bixi has incorporated solar panels to remove the need for underground electrifi-cation, as have Bicincitta’ and B-cycle (Bixi 2009b, Bicincitta’ 2009a, B-cycle 2009). Bixi also incorporates rechargeable batteries to provide assistance should there not be enough solar energy for days at a time (Ayotte 2009).
6.1.8 TrackingBetter tracking of bikes during use with implanted global positioning system (GPS) devices will allow for improved data collection of favorite bike routes and quantifi-cation of vehicle miles traveled. Presently, many systems collect “as-the-crow-flies” data, which is a straight line between a customer’s origin and destination but may not accurately show the true distance of the bike trip. Also, GPS could allow for improved collection of stolen bikes.
6.1.9 Pedal AssistanceNot everyone has the leg strength to ride a bike, especially in hilly areas. Pedelec, or electric pedal assistance bikes, will allow those who would not otherwise be physically able, to give bike-sharing a try. Just as buses have added kneeling and wheelchair features to open themselves up to passengers with disabilities, electric pedal assistance moves bike-sharing to a wider audience. A bike-sharing fleet need not be composed entirely of pedalec bikes, but rather a percentage of vehicles for this purpose to lower the barrier for a portion of the population. Systems that use pedalecs are in Genoa and Monaco, both programs of Bicincitta’ (Bicincitta’ 2009b, Avenir du Vehicule Electrique Mediterraneen 2008).
6.1.10 Business ModelAs the demand for bike-sharing increases, the models of provision will continue to experience growth. New bike-sharing system vendors have sprung up in the industry and created their own systems, such as nextbike, Bixi, Veloway, and Smoove.
Many of these systems have no outdoor advertising component but rather can be purchased by a local operator. These systems are allowing jurisdictions and universities with populations too small to make outdoor advertising profitable or where advertising on public space is prohibited to consider launching their own bike-sharing services
6.2 Why do we need a publicly shared bicycle programme?Penang is under the administration of Pakatan Rakyat, it has limited funds and resources to go for big huge transportation project like LRT or PORR. Therefore expensive transport solutions may not be suitable for Penang. The conventional bus system can not provide sufficient routes coverage, it tend to ply on lucrative routes in the State. We need to note that there is not a single bus operator which will regularly and faithfully service unprofitable routes as a matter of public service. We need a solution to make up the shortfall to solve the problem of last mile to end a trip and to provide an alternative way of travel mode. A BRT complement by bicycles and pedestrian travel is the only cost effective and efficient alternative we should look forward to.
6.3 Where should we begin?
6.3.1 Ride and cycle scheme for the Northwestern coastlineAlong the northwestern coastline are some of the fine beaches on the island. Lining the coastline are abundant seafront lodgings ranging from simple budget-friendly A-frame huts to sprawling five-star luxury ventures with guestrooms that face the ocean and offer breathtaking views. The townships along the coastline are the main tourist attractions and the destinations of choice for retirees and those looking for a laidback second home under Malaysia My Second Home programme.
6.3.2 Park and cycle scheme for Gurney DriveGurney Drive, or Persiaran Gurney, is a seaside promenade. The road is also one Penang’s most popular tourist destinations among locals as well as foreigner. During the daytime, the traffic at this stretch of road is not heavy. But the evening’s traffic is a nightmare due the narrow space caused by side parking.
The state government should eliminate all the side parking lots and provide cycle lane to ease the traffic.
The state government can turn Persiaran Gurney into one way street between 500pm and 10pm for private vehicle, only allow traffic flow from the direction of the round about towards Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. The other direction of the road can be used as BRT and cycle lane.
6.3.3 Ride and cycle scheme for George TownParts of George Town are fast losing their charm. This has turned George Town into a ghost town after 6pm.
The way to rejuvenate George Town is to introduce a Ride and Cycle scheme. Tourists as well as locals can take the free Penang Central Areas Transit to Komtar, Weld Quay Terminal or Esplanade and take a publicly shared bicycle to tour the various part of George Town.
By 8pm, parts of the city will be deserted, the deserted streets make commuting much easier, it is quite safe to cycle around the central town at night.
This effort will not only rejuvenate George Town, it will also help rejuvenate Komtar which will act as the main bicycle sharing library. To further rejuvenate Komtar, turn the under utilised Komtar into a budget hotel for backpackers. The backpackers will tend to use the publicly shared bicycles and BRT for their travelling.
6.3.4 Park and cycle scheme for Youth Park and Botanical GardenLimited the car parks at Youth Park and Botanical Garden to the disable and elderly. Classified both areas as towing zone. Install publicly shared bicycles. All cars should park at the Caring Society Complex or Midland One Stop.
From Caring Society Complex, a cyclist can cycle to Persiaran Kuari via Jalan Sepoy Line, Jalan Ayer Rajah, Jalan Brown and Jalan utama. Those are the routes which have light traffic as it is in a posh housing area. The same apply to the routes one can take from Midland One Stop Shopping Mall where you can enter Jalan Brown and cycle towards the Youth Park.
With a bit of modification to existing roads to ensure safety and right of way for the bicycles, we will be able to make the areas around both the Youth Park and the Botanical Garden a cycling friendly place.
The publicly shared bicycles at the Midland One Stop Shopping Mall can be used for Gurney Drive as well.
6.3.5 Ride and cycle scheme for industrial zonesThe suitable places where segregated cycle facilities can be introduced in Penang are the industrial zones, whether it is in the main land or the island. Majority of the road shoulders of the industrial zones have sufficient setback which can turn into bicycle lanes. The segregated cycle facilities should be extended to the nearby housing areas. This will encourage the factories to arrange factory workers to stay at nearby housing estates thus eliminate the need for long distance travelling.
Majority of the foreign labors as well as the locals are used to cycling. With the segregated cycle facilities properly setup where the safety of cyclists is being emphasis, the promotion for cycling will be made easy. If feasible publicly shared bicycle programmes can be deployed too for those who take the BRT to work. This will not only help the factory worker, it also help to reduce the burden of investors in providing transportation for the workers.
6.4 Pilot Programme
According to New York bike-sharing master plan, past experience show that a small “pilot” bike-share program would be unsuccessful. Evidence from bike-share programs around the world suggests that small programs do not provide meaningful transportation, health or economic development gains nor do they provide a significant basis from which the city could evaluate the effectiveness of the program. In a city which is densely populated, small pilots in particular pose problems because the program coverage area would be insufficient to warrant bicycle use.
SmartBike in Washington DC provides valuable lessons about the difficulties posed by small pilots. With 120 bicycles spread out over 10 bike-staons, the bike-staons are hard to find unless one knows where to look. Washington has not seen transportation benefits from the program. In contrast, Velib’ opened its doors with 10,000 bicycles and then six months later doubled the number of bicycles to cover the whole city, allowing the program to see immediate transportation gains (5% reduction in automobile traffic in the first year). Six months afer Velib’ opened it was credited with helping Paris weather the multi-day transit strike in the winter of 2007.
Because SmartBike is too small to generate large revenues from membership or use fees, expansion options for the program are also limited. Velib’ opened with 13,000 annual subscribers, €377,000 in starting revenue. In contrast, SmartBike opened with 250 annual subscriptions for initial revenue of $10,000. The small number of bicycles makes one day passes infeasible and has led program operators to consider liming the number of annual passes. Thus tourists or potential riders who are unwilling to commit immediately to an annual pass cannot use SmartBike.
In contrast, Paris sold 2.5 million one day passes in the first 6 months alone, dramatically changing how many tourists explore Paris and generating significant revenues. In Penang, the state’s ability to develop a bike-share program is dependent on starting at the right scale. It need funding mechanisms, such as membership and user fees, which depend on volume, to pick up the slack.
6.4.1 Programme size and extent
According to New York bike-sharing master plan, Bike-share programmes that are financially self-sufficient tend to be larger programs that can take advantage of volume-based funding mechanisms such as advertising or membership fees, and focused around densely populated or highly trafficked area where bicycles and bike-stations can be used by the maximum number of people. In many cases, this combination of attributes also creates programmes which see significant transportation and health benefits. In contrast, small programmes, and programmes that are placed in low density/less trafficked areas, do not typically produce the revenues required to be financially self-sustaining. These programs provide few, if any, transportation or health benefits. Purely recreational programmes, similar to bike rentals currently offered by private companies such as Metro-Bike, likewise fail to provide needed positive transportation or health impacts.
A high bike-station density (28-30 stations/square mile or 10-13 stations/square km) is necessary for bike-share programs because it allows users to find and return bicycles easily. In lower density areas this bike-station density may be financially infeasible. In some lower density areas, it may be more cost effective to encourage bicycling by increasing the quantity and quality of personal bicycle parking facilities rather than by introducing a bike-share program.
For the initial phase, the planned stations and number of bikes should be as follows:
|Area||Station||Number of Stations||Number of Bikes|
|Northwestern coastline||Telok Pahang||15||150|
|Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah||15||150|
|Caring Society Complex||15||150|
|One Stop Shopping Mall||15||150|
|Budget||Assuming average cost of $3500 per bike||$7 million or |
7. Transit Oriented DevelopmentPenang Transit faces a peculiar problem of serious lack of transit stations , this is a unique problem that no other transit planner ever face. It is common sense to expect the building and setup of transit stations in any transit planning. Land normally will be allocated to build the infrastructure. The built environment of Penang is so bad that there is hardly any available land that can be used as a transit station unless the state government go for forced land acquisition. Without transit stations it will make transfer and interchange a difficult task for commuters.
The state government intention to increase the development density to 87 unit per acre without any transit supporting plan is also not well received by Penangites.
With the type of predicaments we face, we need to adopt transit oriented development to force developers to build transit stations for high density development. Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, 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.
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 outward from the center.
Over the last 3 years, the performance of Lim Guan Eng administration is not up to the marks. With his controversial penchant for development and his total reliance on developers on properties centric development without any transit oriented land use policy, Penang has witness the sprouting of high rise buildings that threaten to turn the island into a big ghetto. It is now time for Lim Guan Eng to buck up especially on issues related to public transportation and high density development. This initiative will provide him a blueprint on how to improve the public transportation and solving the issues of high density development. A genuine transit solution that make Penang livable and accessible is the elixir of growth that will truly transform Penang into an international and intelligent city. It will also propel the tourism industry to a new heights.
- Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide, IDTP.