Busway going nowhere

Busway going nowhere with only four months left
Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With less than four months to go, it appears little preparation has been done for the construction of city administration's plan to build a busway between Blok M in South Jakarta and Kota in West Jakarta.
The Rp 54 billion (US$6.13 million) busway is expected to start operation by the end of this year. The completion of the busway, devised by Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University, was initially set for October but has been postponed to December.

Despite the apparent lack of preparation, City Transportation Agency head Rustam Effendy is confident the busway will be operational by the end of this year.

"I am sure that the construction will be finished in time so that residents will be able to use the new public transportation system by the end of this year," he told reporters on Tuesday.
"We are still preparing detailed plans for the bus stops. Designing is quick but the administrative process takes some time. We will start the tender process soon."

The bus stops will be platforms that are at the same level as bus floors, thus making it easier and faster for passengers to embark and disembark.
Only passengers with tickets will be allowed to enter buses so there will be no transactions between passengers and drivers, reducing the risk of financial losses.
Busway vehicles will have doors on the right side instead of the left because the buses will use the right fast lane.

Separately contacted, the agency's head of the traffic division, Pristono, told The Jakarta Post that buses would only be able to stop at designated bus stops because of the special design of bus stops.
"This way, passengers will not be able to ask drivers to stop just anywhere. They must discipline themselves," he said.
"The size of each bus stop will be different from stop to the next in such a way as to accommodate the different capacities related to passengers' demand."
Pristono said the busway would have 20 bus stops and 60 85-seater buses with a frequency of one and half to five minutes.

Rustam said it had not yet been decided from where the buses would be procured, but the agency had had many offers.
"This is a specific kind of bus so we must be sure about its quality. We want the buses to last for a long time," he said.
Rustam, however, said he preferred buses made by Japanese Hino or German Mercedes-Benz.

There is also a plan to create a city-owned company to operate the first busway route so that the system can be evaluated before other routes are offered to private companies.
The second route being studied is the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to Rawamangun, East Jakarta, route.

The deputy chairman of City Council's Commission D on development affairs, Ali Imran Husein, has criticized the delay in construction of the busway.
"The 2002 city budget was approved earlier this year and there was enough time to start the project. The agency first planned the project last year, so there is no reason why it won't be started until late this year," he told the Post.
"City councillors have not even received a detailed plan of the project even though the proposed operational time is approaching."

Ali also questioned the possibility of cutting down trees along the busway, saying it would interfere with the City Parks Agency's budget.
"The parks agency budget covers maintaining the trees, but the project requires them to be cut down. It is such a waste of money. Why don't both agencies coordinate their plans?"

Meanwhile, the head of the City Parks Agency, Mauritz Napitupulu, said his agency had yet to receive a detailed plan for the construction from the transportation agency, especially concerning the cutting down of trees along the bus route.
"I do not know how many trees need to be removed. We can uproot the trees, especially the young ones, instead of cutting them down."