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Limiting cars in cities good for business, says transport expert

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 14/9/2018 Predeep Nambiar
a car driving down a busy street filled with lots of traffic © Provided by FMT MEDIA SDN BHD

GEORGE TOWN: A scholar who has studied transport issues recommends that the authorities consider restricting cars from entering growing towns and cities as has been done in London and Singapore.

Roger Teoh said areas like Penang island could benefit from introducing a congestion charge system similar to that used in London.

Contrary to popular belief, he added, there was not enough evidence to show that restricting vehicles in cities would affect businesses or economic growth.

On the contrary, he said, public transport modes such as trams and mass transit systems in cities were the main drivers of economic growth as they brought in more people.

He referred to the International Association of Public Transport which found that the general economic benefits of public transport were at least five times higher than the amount of money invested in the system.

“You can limit cars and allow only trams to use the roads. When you have tramlines in your city, you bring in more people and thus accelerate the business and economic growth there,” he said.

He said the way forward for major cities in Malaysia was to “pedestrianise” them, giving the example of New York City where a road in the Times Square area had been turned into a pedestrian walkway.

The change was initially a road closure to vehicles which was made permanent after the authorities realised the economic growth it brought to the area, he added.

“In a tourist haven like Penang, such a move would provide a more pleasant environment for city dwellers and tourists alike.”

In Singapore, he said, buildings were integrated so well that it was easy to get anywhere on foot.

He dismissed the argument that a hot climate would deter pedestrians, pointing out that Singapore had planted many trees along the walkways and ensured plenty of covered spaces for a comfortable walk.

He urged town planners to rethink the way they planned their cities so that the areas would become more conducive to public transport in the long run.

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