penang skycab - reversed
* See article in today’s The Star Online at Source:

There are two things that are badly wrong with this proposal.

The first, and by far the easiest to deal with, is that it is a silly, amateurish and quite inappropriate mobility project, a waste of taxpayer money, unacceptably ad hoc and a waste of valuable time (in that it distracts attention and resources from the real challenges). Every international transportation professional with a serious education in the field has known that for the last two decades– other of course than those who just love this kind of technology and/or are in the hire of the eventual suppliers. So off it goes.

malaysia penang heavy traffic

The second and far more serious issue is that while in itself the Sky Cab is just small change,  it betrays a level of competence and thinking on the part of the authorities who are presently charged with these decisions in Penang that is — in this case at least — that is far below what is needed to deal with the legitimate and invariably complex systemic mobility issues that face the state and its citizens. Penang has the intellectual resources and competences to deal with these challenges.  But they are not being used properly.

The leading edge of the international planning profession knows what has to be done to deal with these problems, but the first necessary step is that government must be capable of rising to the challenges, not least that of finding ways to reduce car traffic quickly, radically and rationally while at the same time bringing in superior mobility options and choices. For all levels of society.  Not an easy job but that is what wise governance is all about.

mayasia Penang - Chief Minister Sky Cab

Being a Mayor or Chief Minister of a growing city is no easy challenge. It demands a huge array of competences.  Just to cite a few examples: security, the local economy, fire and flood protection, competitiveness, sanitation, infrastructure maintenance, education, social welfare, aging populations, immigration, leisure and sports activities, labor unions, city council, local business groups, environment, climate modification, zoning, built environment, public spaces, neighborhood associations, culture, heritage, social peace, public health, garbage collection and treatment, law and order, enforcement, race relations, budgeting, finance, national government relations, disaster relief, staff recruitment and continuing education, and the long list goes on.

local government competences

And oh yes of course, transportation.

21st century transport ecosystem wordle

And that goes a long way to understanding why these issues and decision are so challenging.

# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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