Rebranding effort needed, says expert
Poor prospects of a good income and the gruelling work of pedalling a trishaw resulted in a drop in the number of people taking up the profession.
The lack of promotion and initiatives also compounded the diminishing number of the iconic trishaws.
According to historical records at the Penang Museum, the trishaw used to be the main mode of transportation here.
After the World War 2, there were about 2,000 trishaw pedallers in the state, transporting people and goods daily.
These days, according to the Penang Island City Council, there are 150 trishaw pedallers left, and most are between 50 and 70 years old.
Many of the trishaw pedallers would gather near Komtar, Jalan Penang and Pengkalan Weld, while a handful would ply other routes on their own, to avoid competing for getting passengers.
Persatuan Sejarah dan Warisan Melayu Pulau Pinang (Pewarisan) president Professor Datuk Ahmad Murad Merican said negative perception had contributed to the dwindling number of trishaw pedallers.
“It is a job for the poor. That is why it is hard to find people taking on the work to earn a living.
“The poor earnings is the main reason why many would not think twice aboutabandoning the trishaw if they get a job that pays better.”
Ahmad said a rebranding effort can make the trishaw popular again.
“More promotions are needed. Tour operators need to help get people to ride the trishaws.
“There should be some effort put in to make use of trishaw pedallers as transporters again, instead of just being a tour ride.”