In a news article from Malaysiakini, a social reform grouping Aliran treasurer Anil Netto said that, since Penang is surrounded by sea, it should only be natural for the authorities to utilise the water to upgrade the public transportation system. He urged the government to follow Bangkok's example. This is not such a bad idea.
I visited Bangkok twice. The boat transport system is a tourist attraction too. Hotels and restaurants are built along the river. I am not too sure if this is feasible or doable in Penang because the government does not have a control over its coast lines. Many private residential apartments, condominiums and housing projects have occupied the coast lines. For more development ideas, the government should take a good look at Phuket.
Netto further suggested the re-introduction of tram-buses as a cost-effective, reliable and affordable transport system for Penang, rather than embarking on such “mega projects as the monorail, light rail transit, bridges and outer ring road”. "The modes (like tram-buses) would be environment-friendly and add value to the heritage and tourism sector in Penang," he said.
I agree with Netto on this point. Penang is so densely populated and the hub-and-spokes road systems will make the second bridge or monorail inconsequential. What we need is a good public bus system or even a 'tut-tut' system like what you find in Bangkok, Hatyai and Phuket.
The government has to think out of the box. If possible, throw the box away!