Public campaign for busway needed

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Although busway systems have been developed successfully in many cities of the world, the city administration has been advised not to apply it without securing public support and making comprehensive preparations.

Preparations include social aspects, such as a public campaign to make sure people have adequate understanding of the new policy, and technical aspects like developing bus shelters, special lanes, traffic lights, traffic signs, and preparing feeder routes.

"The system was able to be developed successfully in many cities, because it was prepared very well. But I haven't seen the same preparations here," said Azas Tigor Nainggolan, chairman of Jakarta Residents's Forum (Fakta) last Saturday.

Tigor was among members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who visited Bogota in Colombia -- a city which has successfully developed the bus rapid transit or BRT -- to take part in a short course on transportation.

A similar comment came from another noted urban observer Marco Kusumawijaya, who said that without public support any development program introduced by the city administration, would end in failure.

Marco also stressed the need for the city administration to make sure that related officials have an in depth understanding of the BRT concept so that they can give a comprehensive explanation to the public.

"So far I've never heard a comprehensive concept conveyed about the busway. What I have heard are only incomplete explanations," he added. "If their explanations are seemingly only concerned with restraints, like the three-in-one and license plate-based restriction policies, people will be disappointed."

A number of world's cities which have developed busway systems, include Bogota (Columbia), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Nagoya (Japan), Taipei (Taiwan), Leeds (UK), Chicago and Honolulu (U.S.), Ottawa and Vancouver (Canada), Adelaide and Brisbane (Australia).

Sharing Marco's views, Tigor also stressed the need of public approval for the city administration program which would affect a large number of people in the city.

Tigor said if the project was implemented, it would drastically change the habits and lifestyle of Jakartans.

"Just imagine, people who usually stop a bus anywhere they like will be forced to go to bus shelters. And the people who usually go to work in their own car will have to travel on public buses," he added.

Therefore, a public campaign is very important to make the people understand the project. To find out what the public wants, he added, the city administration needs to hold a poll. If most people say yes, the project could be continued.

But Governor Sutiyoso said previously that polling was not necessary as he asserted that the majority of Jakarta people accepted the busway project.

"I believe the majority of Jakarta people will accept the project as it is designed for them, if there are people who oppose the project, it must be those who use private cars," Sutiyoso said.

Marco, however, expressed skepticism that Jakartans would support the city administration's plan to develop the BRT project which is expected to be launched later this year.

First, he said he was not sure that the city administration had a comprehensive plan to tackle transportation problems in the city. Second, many development projects in the city have ended in failure due to lack of preparation.

And third, the credibility of the city administration is very low due to rampant corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN), with the result that many projects are not implemented professionally.

Originally, the city administration planned to launch the BRT project, known as Trans Jakarta, late last year. But it was delayed as Governor Sutiyoso realized that it needed further preparation.

Sutiyoso stressed that Trans Jakarta will be launched later this year, but many observers have expressed pessimism as his administration has to date not outlined a clear and thorough concept of the busway system.

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