Jakarta: The Need to Keep Moving Forward

Transportation Alternatives
Vision Zero Cities Journal
6 min readOct 19, 2022

--

By Fani Rachmita

For the last decades, The Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta has had ups and downs in implementing programs and projects to push public transport, solve congestion, and aim for zero-emission public transport. The development of a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT), Transjakarta, in 2004 did not necessarily solve the mobility problem, nor did the underground MRT Jakarta or street-level LRT Jakarta train systems. The Greater Jakarta Commuter Statistics data (Statistik Komuter Jabodetabek) shows that two-thirds of commuters in Greater Jakarta still used private and ride-hailing motorcycles in 2019 for daily commuting, the highest among all types of modes. These 16 million units of motorcycles emit 8,500 tons of air pollutants per day, which contribute 45 percent of total pollutants from the transport sector. Along with the use of private and ride-hailing cars and motorcycles, it worsens Jakarta’s traffic and air quality. So, what other efforts and acts should Jakarta take, radically?

I was born and raised in Jakarta and have taken public transport since elementary school. From unofficial microbuses, or “angkot” as we usually call them, to medium buses (Metromini Kopaja), to three-wheelers, Jakarta’s public transport transformation is distinct.

There was a time when public transport operated without Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and Service Level Agreements (SLA), and the lack of government oversight caused aggressive profiteering by transit operators. Safety and comfort were non-existent for passengers, and sexual harassment, violence, and pickpocketing were rampant. Passengers were often told to get off in the middle of a trip because the driver saw more people waiting for a ride going in the opposite direction and decided that route would be more profitable. In my own experience, I was pickpocketed and lost my cell phone and saw someone being mugged with a knife in broad daylight.

The 2004 introduction of the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Indonesia, Transjakarta, gave Jakartans a glimmer of hope. After 18 years, Transjakarta operated on 13 corridors and served one million passengers per day before the pandemic. Most of the growth came in the last few years; prior to 2016, Transjakarta was serving 300,000 passengers each day. It was not an easy road for Transjakarta, with constant institutional change, from being labeled a Management Agency (Badan Pengelola), then becoming the Regional Public Service Agency (Badan Layanan Umum Daerah), changing to a Management Unit (Unit Pengelola), and finally, a Regionally Owned Business Entity (Badan Usaha Milik Daerah) where the Transjakarta now can have full authority as an operator for buses right under the Governor. The main keys are service improvement, fleet renewals, route expansion by combining the outside corridor for the bus routes (direct service), and full subsidies from the city.

Cars and buses wait at a bus depot; a boy crosses the crosswalk.

In 2019, Jak Lingko, a public transport integration system consisting of physical, tariff, and operational integration, was launched by the city. Jak Lingko aimed to bring together all of the city’s public transport modes into one cohesive system, starting with the many microbuses (angkot). With their small dimensions, angkot can traverse narrow streets, which are common in Indonesian cities, including Jakarta. At its introduction, only three operators were interested in joining the Jak Lingko program; today, around 15 operators are part of the program. The angkot hit 250,000 passengers per day before and during the pandemic, expanding the Transjakarta network coverage to 82 percent by the end of December 2021.

When the long-awaited metro, MRT Jakarta, finished its first phase of development in 2019 and began operating along with LRT Jakarta, the need for integration was urgently increased. The city, led by MRT Jakarta, started station integration projects connecting MRT Jakarta, Transjakarta, and the commuter train. The station integration became a breath of fresh air for commuters from surrounding satellite cities such as Bogor, Bekasi, Depok, and Serpong, to use the commuter train to reach Jakarta and seamlessly continue their trip with Transjakarta, MRT, and/or LRT Jakarta. By 2021, nine integrated stations were built, and five more are projected to be finished by the end of this year.

A Transjakarta bus goes down a wide street. One lane has been turned into a partially-protected bike lane. Tall glass buildings are visible in the background.

In 2021, electrification became a main project of the Indonesian government, which unfortunately only focuses on cars. With the support of many global and local organizations, Jakarta pledged to electrify all Transjakarta buses by 2030 and committed to run 100 pilot electric buses by the end of this year. For now, 30 low-deck e-buses are running 200 km daily.

Connecting the Dots

All public transport users are pedestrians at some point. As part of their strategy for improving the public transit in Jakarta, 337.02 kilometers (209.4 miles) of sidewalks were built during the last five years in various regions of Jakarta, all connected to public transport stations; this year, the city is planning to build another 30 km of sidewalks.

Women walk holding grocery bags down a wide and generous brick sidewalk protected by plantings. The city is lush around them, and to their right, motorcycles and cars use the road.

During the pandemic, the city experienced a bike boom, with a 1,000 percent increase of cyclists on one street in the city center. This 63-kilometer (39-mile) pop-up bike lane pilot was introduced just prior to the lockdown, after two years of advocacy from ITDP, and the number of cyclists swarming the road became an opportunity to accelerate bike lane development. Starting with a pop-up bike lane in 2020, Jakarta successfully built its first protected bike lane along Sudirman Road by 2021, and another 200 kilometers (124 miles) of bike lanes will be built this year, targeting a total of 500 kilometers (311 miles) in 2030. To connect and integrate the developments, ITDP has collaborated with Jakarta’s transport and public work agencies to formalize a roadmap for a non-motorized transport (walking and cycling) network in Jakarta. The progress has been encouraging, but Jakartans are still waiting to see if this will be enough to reduce pollution and congestion in the city.

Dozens of cyclists use a wide five-lane road, taking over the street/ A bus is passing by in a protected and separated bus lane.

Calling for More Radical Actions

ITDP believes that push and pull policy is a formula every city needs to create a sustainable transport system that lessens congestion and improves air quality. The pull policy includes a high-quality public transport system and proper walking and cycling facilities, which Jakarta has already implemented successfully. However, the push policy to reduce the use of private motorized vehicles is still not visible in the planning. Indonesia’s congestion pricing plan, called Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), has been in planning since 2006, and to this day, it has yet to be implemented. Another push policy Jakarta can apply is parking fare management, which would raise the on- and off-street parking fees for motorized private vehicles near public transportation by as much as ten times higher. Jakarta is certainly on the right track: just this summer, Jakarta launched the old town area revitalization effort by pedestrianizing one of the main roads and making it another hub station for public transportation. But, indeed, more radical actions are needed to supplement the pedestrian, cyclist, and public transit policies with efforts to push people out of cars. If the goal is to create a sustainable city that prioritizes its people, Jakarta must continue to pursue radical approaches and keep moving forward.

Fani Rachmita, born and raised in Jakarta, graduated from The London School of Public Relations Jakarta with a degree in Mass Communications. She is currently Senior Communications & Partnerships Manager at ITDP Indonesia and has 10 years of experience as a content writer, event organizer, marketing strategist, social media specialist, and PR officer. At ITDP, Fani handles all communication aspects for the organization’s field office and leads the development of institutional relationships and communications with stakeholders such as city agencies, governments, municipalities, and transit operators such as BRT Transjakarta. Besides institutional affairs, Fani applies communication, design, and data to change behavior in urban mobility dedicated to mass transit users, drivers, and/or pedestrians.

--

--

Transportation Alternatives
Vision Zero Cities Journal

Transportation Alternatives is your advocate for walking, bicycling, and public transit in New York City. We stand up for #VisionZero & #BikeNYC.