Busway is doubtful project since beginning

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Bus Rapid Transit system, or busway, has attracted strong opposition from transportation experts and observers since it was first introduced by the Jakarta administration in early 2002.
The experts argued that the busway would not be able to resolve chronic traffic congestion in the capital and poor-quality public transportation services.

The assessment did not improve after relevant officials at the administration failed to convince the experts on the busway's effectiveness.

The experts criticized officials for not having a clear concept of the project, continuous changes to the timetable, supporting facilities, the project budget, fuel costs and passengers being targeted.

Analysts have concluded that the busway has been the result of a project ill-prepared by the city administration.

The administration proposed only Rp 60 billion (US$7 million) from its 2002 budget to buy some 60 buses to be used on the 12.9-kilometer corridor from Blok M, South Jakarta, to Kota, West Jakarta.

A promise to operate the busway in October 2002 was broken because the administration had yet to prepare facilities, from bus shelters and pedestrian bridges to lane dividers.

As a consequence, busway costs have gradually escalated, and the administration has proposed to double the original estimate to Rp 120 billion in its 2004 budget.

The busway opening has been delayed several times, from October 2002 to December 2002 to December 2003 and finally -- if it is not changed again -- Jan. 15, 2004.

The designs for the bus shelters and pedestrian bridges changed drastically after Governor Sutiyoso visited Bogota. He was unhappy at the old designs and wanted a copy of the ones in Bogota.

Feeder bus services, to support the busway, will not have air-conditioned buses as promised earlier, which could discourage private car owners from using the buses.

Contradictory statements on the busway:

  • Jan. 7, 2002: Deputy Governor for development affairs Budihardjo Sukmadi says at a hearing with City Council Commission D for development:
- Busway to operate in October 2002 from Blok M to Kota.
- Rp 50 billion investment to be spent on some 50 air-conditioned buses and the building of 29 new bus shelters.
  • Jan. 13, 2002: Head of the City Transportation Agency Rustam Effendy says the buses will use gas.

  • Jan. 22, 2002: City Council approves Rp 54 billion budget for the project.

  • April 25, 2002: Rustam says: - Busway operation to start in December 2002
- Ticket price to be Rp 3,000 per trip
- 40 bus shelters to be built
  • Sept. 26, 2002: Governor Sutiyoso says: - Busway operation delayed until 2003.
- 60 buses to be operated.
- Bus ticket price to be Rp 2,500 per trip.
  • Feb. 3, 2003: Sutiyoso states: - Busway to start operating in December 2003.
- Rp 83 billion (US$9.2 million) to be allocated to busway in 2003.
  • May 8, 2003: Assistant to the city secretary for development affairs Irzal Djamal says:
- Some 140 buses to be operated -- 60 bought by the city administration and 80 by private companies.
- Ticketing system to be handled by private companies.
- Air-conditioned feeder services to be prepared.
  • May 16, 2003: Irzal says: - License plate-based restriction to be enforced for private cars all over the city.
- Three-in-one traffic policy to be extended along the busway corridor from dawn to dusk.
  • June 9, 2003: Irzal says: - Another Rp 32 billion sought for busway project -- Rp 15 billion for the new design of 29 bus shelters and Rp 17 billion for redesigning 21 pedestrian bridges.
- International Euro II fuel system to be used for the buses.
  • June 15, 2003: Rustam says the administration plans to deploy armed and well-trained security officers to prevent onboard bus crime.

  • Sept. 20, 2003: Head of the City Transportation Agency's system development division D.H. Rini says more money is needed to advertise the busway project on television.

  • Oct. 3, 2003: Construction of eight of 29 bus shelters begins.

  • Nov. 9, 2003: Irzal says tanker trucks will deliver Euro 2 diesel fuel, which price is Rp 2,080 per liter, directly from Balongan refinery, West Java, to Jakarta.

  • Dec. 8, 2003: The administration proposes Rp 120 billion for the busway project from its 2004 budget.

  • Dec. 12, 2003: Jakarta Police and the administration start to clear four alternative routes along the busway corridor.

  • Dec. 19, 2003: - Sutiyoso says he prefers to implement the three-in-one policy from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Rustam says feeder service buses will be taken from the ones currently operating on 16 routes and will not be air-conditioned.
  • Dec. 24, 2003: A 30-day tryout of the new three-in-one traffic policy from Blok M to Kota, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., starts.
From media reports

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