penang bridge

Bridges, roads and highways

Penang Island is connected to the mainland by the 13.5 km (8.4 mi), three-lane, dual carriageway Penang Bridge (completed in 1985), one of the longest bridges in Asia. A second bridge, the 24-km long Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, linking Batu Maung on the southeastern part of the island to Batu Kawan on the mainland, was opened to the public in early 2014.

Penang on the side of Seberang Perai is connected to the North-South Expressway (Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan), the 966-km long expressway which traverses the western part of Peninsular Malaysia linking major cities and towns. The expressway also comprises the Penang Bridge.

The proposed Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) was mooted to cut travelling time on the eastern part of the island but was subsequently shelved. Concerned citizens voiced protests over the designated route which will cut across quiet residential areas and may also adversely affect the environments.

The Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway formerly known as the Jelutong Expressway, a coastal highway on the eastern part of the island, links the Penang Bridge to George Town. The Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) is a 14-km tolled expressway that serves primarily Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam to ameliorate the upsurge in vehicular traffic due to intense urban and industrial development.

Public transport

Rapid Penang started on 31 July 2007 with 150 buses covering 28 routes on the island and mainland. This services has since been extended. After Rapid Penang came in, the public transportation in Penang has improved and is now better. Public transportation usage in the state has also increased from a lowly 30,000 commuters a day in 2007 to 75,000 commuters a day in 2010. Currently, there are 350 buses plying 41 routes around the state (30 routes on Penang Island, 9 routes on Seberang Prai and 2 routes connecting Penang Island and Seberang Prai). However, usage of public transport remains low, contributing to traffic jams in the city during rush hours. In light of this, the city council has introduced free shuttle bus services for short intra-city travel to lessen the congestion. There are two main bus terminals for inter-state express coaches. One is located at the ferry terminal in Seberang Perai, and another at Sungai Nibong on the island.

Taxis in Penang do not use the meter as required by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board but instead charge fixed fares.

penang bus
penang train

Rail and monorail

Penang has 34.9 km (21.7 mi) of rail track within its border. The Butterworth railway station is serviced by the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) or Malayan Railway West Coast line which runs from Padang Besar on the Malaysia-Thailand Border in Perlis to Singapore. Senandung Langkawi is the daily night express running from Kuala Lumpur to Haadyai via Butterworth.

The Penang Hill Railway, a funicular railway to the top of Penang Hill, was an engineering feat of sorts when it was completed in 1923. The railway underwent an extensive upgrading in 2010 and was reopened in early 2011.

Penang had a monorail proposal under consideration since 1999. The Penang Monorail project was finally approved on 31 March 2006 under the Ninth Malaysia Plan but was then deferred indefinitely by the federal government.


Penang International Airport (PEN) is located at Bayan Lepas in the south of the island. The airport serves as the northern gateway to Malaysia and is the secondary hub of Firefly, a low-cost carrier wholly owned by Malaysia Airlines as well as AirAsia, a pioneer low-cost carrier from Malaysia. Other airlines operating at Penang are national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines, SilkAir (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines), Thai Airways International, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia Airways, Hong Kong-based Dragonair and Hong Kong Express Airways, Taiwan-based China Airlines, China Southern Airlines, together with Indonesian airlines Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air and Wings Air.

Penang Airport has direct flights to other Malaysian cities, namely Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Langkawi, Kota Bharu and regular connections to major Asian cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei and Guangzhou.

The airport also serves as an important cargo hub due to the large presence of multinational factories in the Free Trade Zones as well as catering to the northern states of peninsular Malaysia.

penang ferry

Ferry and seaports

Cross-channel ferry services, provided by the Penang Ferry Service, connect George Town and Butterworth, and were the only link between the island and the mainland until the bridge was built in 1985. High-speed ferries to the resort island of Langkawi, Kedah in the north as well as to Medan are also available daily.

The Port of Penang is operated by the Penang Port Commission. There are four terminals, one on Penang island (Swettenham Pier) and three on the mainland, namely North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT), Butterworth Deep Water Wharves (BDWW), and Prai Bulk Cargo Terminal (PBCT). With Malaysia being one of the largest exporting nations in the world, the Port of Penang plays a leading role in the nation’s shipping industry, linking Penang to more than 200 ports worldwide. The Swettenham Pier Port also accommodates cruise ships and on occasions, warships.