Penang desperately needs a well-organised transport system and there are calls recently to quickly set up the monorail system to help elevate the problems. There is merit in having a monorail system but such a system needs time to be built and I don't think it will help much in the short run. Actually, what needs to be done is just to better manage the current system available. So that when the monorail system is built, the feeder systems (buses and taxis) needed to support the system would be in place already.
Here are a few suggestions that the Penang government may want to take note of:
- Get your backyard in order. It is not the facilities that are available that is important, it is the way it is managed that is important. The Underground system in London is one of the oldest in the world but it is well managed. Its facilities are not the most modern but it is well organised. Get a good management and support team in place.
- Unite all transport companies under a single transport board. Like all well-run transport systems, they come under the umbrella of a single transport board that oversees all the different aspects of a transport system. Employing the same colors and motifs will help users, especially tourists, when using the system.
- Get the feeder system ready. All rail systems need a system of feeder transportation such as buses to take people from the stations to their destination as monorail/LRT/MRT systems cannot reach every area whereas buses can, on the existing road network.
- Have standardise rates and introduce day/season passes. This will reduce confusion for travellers when it comes to paying for fares and day/season passes will make it easier for regular commuters and tourists to use the system.
- Standardise the timetable and introduce time-based incentives to the drivers. Meaning if the drivers can make the timetable with some allowances (usually 2-3 minutes before and after the scheduled time), they are given extra incentives for their efforts. This would make them more conscious of the time and make them more on time.
- Have a team of inspectors that check for problems faced in the system. Both for users who evade payments and for buses or drivers that are not well maintained.