Sustainable Penang: Better. Faster. Cheaper

Better-Faster-Cheaper - script

It is amazing how words pop up and associate in a situation in which a number of people with different ideas and orientations come together to see if they can put their fingers on an elusive but important truth.

Over the past months as a civil society consensus critiquing the State government’s transport plan in Penang (and, no less important, the process behind it) this particular phrase has slowly taken shape, so that now these three words have come together serves as a motto, a watchword, a rallying point for the work toward coming up in various corners of civil society in Penang, coming up with ideas and proposals that are better adapted to the important work that remains to be done.

When we speak of the path to s sustainable transport system and sustainable Penang today we now speak with a unified voice of Better, Faster, Cheaper. Let’s have a look..

Better-Faster-Cheaper - 2

BETTER? — Because we are not satisfied with the quality, the sustainability, the fairness and the impact on Penang of the ideas and proposals which are presently being floated by the government’s latest version of its long-delayed “Transport Master Plan”.  And that being the case, we as representatives of civil society, see it as our duty, not just to criticize but  to join together to come up with considered measures and a program that are BETTER in all these senses.

FASTER? – The core of the present plan proposal is to commit vast sums of hard-earned taxpayer money over decades on projects that are going to bring relief on the streets of Penang and the daily lives of Penangites, if at all, in ten, twenty or even fifty years.  But we need large improvements now, in the immediate future. With the right orientation Penang’s sustainable mobility plan and program can do just that – deliver quality in a lot less time than the suddenly very old and very very slow plan.

CHEAPER? – The investment program at the base of the present Master Plan is far too expensive for the government or taxpayer. Moreover the schemes to finance what are in any event totally inappropriate projects from a sustainable mobility perspective would break the backs of the taxpayers of Penang.  Given the fact that most of the necessary remedial measures which can be brought into play are low cost – in that they concentrate on management and behavioral issues, as opposed to building lots of new infrastructure and hardware – it is perfectly possible to come up with a plan, program and timetable that is all three — Better, Faster, and Cheaper.

Stay tuned to Sustainable Penang: Toward a new Mobility Agenda.

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About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight-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 MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent non-profit 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, @ericbritton. @worldstreets and

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