June 08, 2009

Busway Project Moves Forward Despite Service Flaws in Jakarta

Jakarta is moving forward with its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, which includes the Transjakarta busway, although many reforms are still needed to ease congestion in the city, transportation experts said in a recent workshop.

Experts from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said more comprehensive reforms were needed to give Jakarta a better public transportation system, rather than just relying on new modes like the Transjakarta busway.

“The BRT system is already on the right track with the development of the Transjakarta busway, despite some flaws in the service. We just have to improve it,” said ITDP’s Harya Setyaka.

He said the Transjakarta busway, which was introduced in 2004, had recorded an increasing number of passengers. “In January, the bus served some 230,000 passengers daily, and now [June] it has around 245,000 daily passengers.”

The most urgent problem to address was the older transportation modes, including public buses that still used a revenue sharing system, where a bus operator leased a bus to a driver whose daily revenues were shared between the two parties, he said.

“With this system, bus crew maximize their income by loading as many passengers as possible. This results in poor service that makes private vehicle users reluctant to use public transport. On the other hand, people who don’t have their own vehicles have to endure these unpleasant conditions.”

The government and bus operators should get rid of the revenue sharing system and start applying a contract system, as with the Transjakarta busway, he said.

“The operator should also set up service standards for the passengers, and guarantee their rights using a specific legal framework.”

As the newest mode of transportation in the city, the Transjakarta busway is still the subject of complaints from passengers, as bus waiting times are often unpredictable.

To address the problem, Harya recommended the Transjakarta operator add more buses during peak hours, as well as minimize transfers between corridors to save time.

“Actually, the operators have already implemented these measures, but they should reinforce them to cope with the growing number of passengers.”

The Transjakarta operator and the city’s Transportation Agency have also been criticized for delaying the opening of Corridor 9, running from Pinang Ranti to Pluit, and Corridor 10, running from Cililitan to Tanjung Priok.

Although the infrastructure required for the two corridors was completed last year, including bus shelters, lanes and crossing bridges, buses have not been purchased yet.

The experts also said service errors resulted from the city administration acting too hastily when planning the Transjakarta project.

Tory Damantoro of the ITDP said the BRT had yet to significantly address traffic problems because the government only focused on building infrastructure without thinking about integrating different public transportation modes.

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Busway Project Moves Forward Despite Service Flaws


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