Public transportation in Jakarta

The Jakarta Post

J. Scott Younger OBE, Jakarta

Much has been written and many comments made with respect to public transportation provision in Jakarta, with everything from the busway, MRT, feeder services and monorail being included in the debate. The fact is that every major developing city in the world has had or is suffering serious traffic congestion as the urban population grows and the disposable income of the people increases, fueling their desire to own their own form of transport.

Jakarta is no exception and is not helped by the growing satellite developments which make up the Jabodetabek metropolis. Jakarta lacks transportation infrastructure in all its forms and it is worth looking at those which would have the greatest impact in the short to medium-term in helping to alleviate the congestion problem before we all come to a grinding halt.

Probably the most significant aspect which leads to traffic congestion in Jakarta is the simple fact that insufficient land area is given up to roads. In general, a city of the size and vehicle population of Jakarta should have at least 15 percent of its land area allocated to road systems; in Jakarta the figure is not much more than half of this.

Exacerbating the problem is too much traffic coming through the center of the city that has no business in the city. For example, trucks carrying goods from east to west or vice versa must come through the center of Jakarta due to the fact that the Jakarta Outer Ring Road, JORR, has never been completed.

Of course, we do not have the benefit of being able to start from a clean sheet of paper and design a transport efficient city, so we have to recognize the limitations and plan accordingly, something that faces most large conurbations. To do nothing is unacceptable. What is important, however, is that whatever we do must be to add capacity to the network, not erode it.

To put it simply, the busway, while being a boon, particularly for office commuters, reduces road capacity, as currently conceived, whereas the monorail adds to it. In addition, the monorail is environmentally friendly and does not add pollution to the third ranked most polluted city in the world.

I lived for many years in Bangkok, an equally polluted and then more congested city, before the city government embarked on tackling the infrastructure needs of the city, a mixture of all the things that Jakarta is aspiring to. A significant private sector promoted element of the new infrastructure is the elevated rail system there, now heavily used daily by the citizens of the city.

It should be remembered that the route the monorail will take on both the Green Line around the Central Business District (CBD) and the Blue Line feeding into the CBD was chosen after much study and research by both independent international consultants and the Jakarta administration. It took nearly two years to study and finalize the routing resulting in a solution which is aimed at maximizing the benefit to the traveling public.

This routing coupled with adequate feeder bus services and related facilities at the terminals will bring real encouragement for people not to bring their cars into the city center. In fact, the monorail routing has been integrated, wherever possible, with other operational or planned public transport systems such as busways, the urban rail system and the planned north-south MRT system. Where the monorail interfaces with these other systems, the monorail stations will provide mode transfer facilities.

It is also worth reminding ourselves that the proposed Blue and Green lines represent only Phase 1. Phases 2 and 3 will link in Tangerang in the west and Bekasi in the east. These two cities alone contribute over one million road commuters a day into Jakarta.

There has also been much comment on the technology to be utilized for the monorail project. The Koreans may very well have offered their Maglev technology with some sort of financing package attached, but it must be remembered that Maglev technology has never been used in the world before on the scale planned for Jakarta. Maglev technology has proved itself on high speed point-to-point systems such as we see in Shanghai but there are no examples on low speed urban systems.

For a Mass Rapid Transport System, Maglev would have represented a pilot project for its proponents, Rotem. Should Jakarta have allowed itself to be used as a pilot project to help solve one of its most important infrastructure development needs? I think not.

The technology is simply unsuitable for the routing and it would be sheer stupidity to change the routing to suit the technology. It must be the routing that determines the best and most suitable technology. This is precisely why PT Jakarta Monorail and the Jakarta administration rejected Rotem in favor of the conventional, well tried and tested Straddle Type Monorail technology supported by Siemens through the local consortium now in place to build the project.

It should also be remembered that the agreement between PT Jakarta Monorail and the Jakarta administration to develop, build and operate the project was signed over two years ago.

During the past two years the small but dedicated team in Jakarta Monorail have worked hard to ensure that the project will be built in the most cost effective manner. The construction work we have all seen along Jl. Asia Afrika and Jl. Rasuna Said has been carried out through contracts which have been well scrutinized by international consultants to ensure their competitiveness.

The Project Director brought in to coordinate the construction work has vast experience and was previously the Engineering Project Director on the Channel Tunnel in the UK as well as other major rail projects in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia. All this has been achieved through local private investment, a testament to local commitment in making a positive difference to the needs of Jakarta's transport infrastructure needs.

Most new public transport systems around the world struggle to make money in the early years, which is why they lend themselves to some form of short-term government support for initial operations. The support the Jakarta Monorail is obtaining from the central as well as city government is modest to say the least, clearly demonstrating the management's confidence that the project will be a success.

What is much more important is the message this support gives to investors, whether foreign or domestic. It shows that this government is serious about infrastructure development. The Jakarta Monorail will be the most significant infrastructure development since the economic crisis of the late 1990s. The timing could not be better with the forthcoming Second Infrastructure Summit scheduled for early November.

The government should hail this project as a major success in evaluating the risks, working together with the private sector and lending its support in a way which will benefit the people of Jakarta. When this government came to power it immediately recognized the need to do something different to accelerate the development of infrastructure. Much is going on but this project represents the first major milestone in a way that is so visible to the world at large.

For too long the government has been seen as being indecisive. There have been calls for the project to be audited or re-tendered. If this were to happen the investor community would throw their arms up in despair, 'not again' they would say. 'When is this government going to build something rather than just talk about it', they would add.

It should be remembered that Indonesia is not the only developing country which needs private sector investment. India and China, with huge investment appetites, are very attractive destinations for private investors. It is time for Indonesia to put itself on the map and the Jakarta Monorail is a significant milestone in doing that.

The writer has undertaken many projects in infrastructure in many Asian countries, and contributed to many discussions and forums concerned with infrastructure development, latterly with a focus on Indonesia.
He is President Commissioner of project developers PT Glendale Partners and of PT Nusantara Infrastructure Tbk.
He can be reached at scott.younger@glendalepartners.com



Getting people out of their cars

The Jakarta Post

Teguh Utomo Atmoko, Jakarta

There is a tremendous effort by the city administration to make people shift from private vehicles to public transit in order to ease traffic jams and to avoid wasting time and money. Yet, in a city with a population of over 12 million by day and close to 10 million by night, set in the middle of an urbanized region of about 25 million, most people still rely on private vehicles to get around. Grand efforts are underway to ease transportation problems in the metropolis. These include busways, a monorail, subways and commuter trains. Will this make people shift to public transport? It depends.

There is a trend toward people moving back into the center of the city and living in apartment buildings. More and more apartment buildings are being constructed in the inner city area and more and more units are owner occupied. Ideally, these inner city apartment dwellers would be within walking distance of their places of work and other frequent destinations. In reality, however, not everybody is so conveniently located to these everyday destinations; therefore, they need some form of transportation to these places.

Transporting people is not just about moving them from one station, terminal or bus stop to another. It is about transporting people from their original location, such as a home, shop or office, to their final destination. On top of that, there is a need to provide a service for those who have multiple destinations.

Melbourne and Miami, for example, each have a free local public transit system that covers their rather large but compact downtown areas. Melbourne is famous for its free street car downtown shuttles. Miami downtowners are free to use the monorail within the downtown area. In the case of larger downtown areas like Manhattan, New York, the famous yellow cabs are happy to serve downtowners. Moving them around the island for a price, they are rather reluctant to take you to the suburbs during busy hours. In Sydney the daily, weekly and monthly mass transit ticket is the solution for the journey between home and work as well as for moving about within the city center.

So far the grand design of the Greater Jakarta public transit system (if there is any) appears only to address transporting people from one point to another and not from the person's place of origin to their final destination. The abysmal condition of the city's existing sidewalks is clear evidence of this. Poor urban design also aggravates the situation.

The majority of buildings in Jakarta are not pedestrian friendly and are very poorly related to sidewalks. People need to ride in vehicles from one building entrance to another, as if they were in the suburbs. Buildings are situated like villas, only now the lot size is drastically reduced. Even a shop-house is required to be set back from the road and sidewalks. Large buildings like shopping plazas, such as Plaza Indonesia, often are turned away from the sidewalks. Perhaps Jakarta is the only world class city that has this kind of urban design. If, in the 1970s, Jakarta's nickname was "the big village", perhaps today it should be "the big, overcrowded and congested suburb".

To seduce people into leaving their vehicles at home and use public transportation is not just a matter of building a public transit system. There is a need to provide ways for people to travel around within an urban area too large to navigate solely by walking. In addition to the provision of good sidewalks, the city's urban design, especially near the centers of urban activities, should be pedestrian friendly with buildings open to and facing the sidewalks. Sidewalks need to be changed and improved to be on par with other world class cities that have sidewalks which function well, and are clean, and safe. It's equally important that sidewalks be well connected to people's place of origin and destination.

This task does not just fall on the people responsible for transportation provision. Other related city agencies, and not just the city transportation agency, must contribute their efforts and expertise, especially the town planning office, the urban design issues agency (Dinas Tata Kota), and the city parks agency which is responsible for parks and sidewalks. Otherwise people will always stays in their vehicles, and money spent for development of public transit will be wasted. So, Jakartans, prepare to pay for the shortfall of monorail development.

The writer is a lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Engineering School, University of Indonesia.
He can be reached at tiua@eng.ui.ac.id.



Petugas loket mogok

Petugas Loket Busway Mogok

TEMPO Interaktif, Jakarta: Ratusan petugas loket karcis busway mogok tadi pagi. Mereka menagih janji kenaikan gaji dari PT Delta yang mempekerjakan mereka.

“Kami dijanjikan akan mendapatkan gaji 1,2 juta, tetapi hingga kini realisasinya belum ada,” ungkap salah satu petugas di Halte Sarinah. Berdasarkan pengakuan mereka PT Delta telah menjanjikan kenaikan tersebut antara dua hingga tiga bulan yang lalu.

Petugas yang tak mau disebut namanya itu mengatakan sejak pagi para pengguna busway tidak ada satu pun yang terlayani. “Petugas loketnya tidak ada gimana mau beli karcis,” katanya.
Dia menjelaskan yang ikut dalam aksi tersebut adalah karyawan di 22 halte yang ada.

Aksi mogok itu dibenarkan oleh Kepala BP Trans Jakarta, Bambang Garjito. “Karyawan yang mogok sekitar 800 orang,” tuturnya. Tetapi menurutnya masalah itu sudah dapat teratasi.
Berkaitan dengan aksi mogol tersebut, BP Trans akan mengajukan teguran ke PT Delta. “Kami juga akan mengajukan ganti rugi akibat aksi tersebut,” katanya. Tapi jumlahnya belum dihitung.

Penyesalan juga tercetus dari mulut Gubernur DKI Jakarta Sutiyoso. “Kalau dengan cara-cara seperti itu saya kecewa karena konsumen telantarkan,” ujarnya di Balai Kota. Ia minta kalau ada masalah dalam operasional busway hendaknya diselesaikan secara bersama-sama. | YUDHA SETIAWAN


First busway transfer station opened

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Governor Sutiyoso opened Thursday the Harmoni Central Busway (HCB), the transport system's first transfer station.
The new station will enable passengers to transfer between corridor I (Blok M-Kota), II (Pulo Gadung-Harmoni) and III (Kalideres-Harmoni).

Sutiyoso said he hoped the Rp 51 billion station, which has six automatic doors and can hold up to 600 people at one time, would help serve customers better and reduce traffic.

The HCB (above) straddles the Ciliwung River in West Jakarta. Construction began in August last year, but was delayed at one point because of budget allocation problems.

"This is the biggest station we have. People shouldn't have to wait any longer than 10 minutes between buses," Sutiyoso said in his speech, which started about 15 minutes later than scheduled.
"In January we will be operating seven fully functioning corridors. By the end of 2007 we plan to have 10 corridors," he told guests and the media.

He said all the corridors would eventually be integrated into a united city transportation scheme which would include monorail stations.

"Better to suffer (traffic congestion during construction) now and reap the benefits later," he said, adding that he would also do his best to make the busway safer.

He then rode the busway with his staff to Pulo Gadung station.

Muhammad Akbar, the traffic management unit head at the Jakarta Transportation Agency, said no trees had been cut down for the project. He added that a banyan tree on Jl. Hayam Wuruk next to the HCM had caused them some problems, however.

"None of the workers were able to cut it down ... Some people believe that it's possessed. We paved the ground around it with cement, but somehow the tree managed to survive," he said.(03)


Skywalks and bendy buses for busway

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Come January, Busway riders will notice a few new things about the system.

The Jakarta Transportation Agency plans to build transfer bridges between different corridors and stations to save space and make trips more convenient.

The agency will also bring in articulated, or "bendy", buses for corridor V between Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta and Ancol in North Jakarta.

"We will build a sky walk between paid areas and transfer bridges in Senen, between Matraman and Pramuka and between Dukuh Atas and Landmakr," said agency traffic management unit head Muhammad Akbar on Monday.

"This will make traveling with the busway faster. People holding paid tickets won't have to go out of paid areas," Akbar said.

The longest sky bridge will be one connecting corridors V and I along Jl. Sudirman, which will stretch about 200 meters.

Akbar said the agency would also build "floating" stations above the bus way on corridor V on Jl. Mampang Prapatan.

"Because the street there is really narrow, we have be innovative to make use of the space," he said, adding that the ticketing booth and transaction area would be in the floating station and passengers would access the bus via a ramp. Three floating stations will be built over the Jl. Mampang Prapatan crossroads in front of the Immigration Office.

"Usually, we have around three or four square meters of land to build a busway station on. But in this area, we only have about one or two square meters," Akbar said.

Articulated buses, which consist of two buses connected by an accordion bend, will also help smooth out the busway system.

"So far we can only accommodate corridor V due to its straight road. We'll see if we can implement it in other corridors," Akbar said.

Jakarta Park Agency head Sarwo Handayani said the agency would consider providing plants and flowers for the bridges and stations if space permitted.

"We can put bougainvillea flowers on the bridges. As soon as we know if it's possible we can start making arrangements," she said Monday.

Some residents have suggested that if the articulated buses help reduce congestion in corridor V then they should be used on all routes, while others are concerned they may not work.

Oki Gultom, who lives in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, and works on Jl. MH Thamrin, said Monday that the articulated buses might be redundant and inefficient in areas where other vehicles crossed paths with busway buses, such as around the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.

"During busy times in corridor I (Blok M in South Jakarta to Kota in West Jakarta), buses catch up with each other within three minutes. If the capacity and quantity of single buses is to be reduced and replaced with double buses, then it might be effective to maintain a time lapse between the buses," he added. (03)