Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 03/29/2008 11:13 AM
Jakarta should focus more on developing its inner-city public transportation than building more roads to solve traffic woes in the city, experts from East Asia and Indonesia say.
Transportation expert Hitoshi Ieda of the East Asia Society of Transportation Studies (EASTS) said the extensive train network that had linked Greater Jakarta could not work effectively without an inner-city transportation system.
"This is the biggest problem that most commuters would have once they arrived in the city. A good inner-city public transportation system, like the busway, should be available near train stations so they can reach their destinations easily," he told reporters Friday.
The experts also discussed the importance of developing public transportation as opposed to building more roads in Jakarta.
EASTS president Kyung Soo Chon said traffic congestion could not justify the building of more roads in the city, including elevated ones.
"Building a road in the city is not environmentally sound as it only invites more cars and produces more air pollution in the city," he said.
He said elevated roads made things even worse, as for aesthetic purposes it would be nicer to have a city of trees as scenery rather than overhead roads.
Chairman of the Indonesian Transportation Society Bambang Susantono said road construction would only be appropriate for the outskirts of the city.
"A good public transportation system is enough to link the inner part of the city. The administration and the central government should be consistent in developing it," he said.
Bambang said it would be better to spend the Rp 40 trillion planned for constructing more elevated roads next year to establish a rail-based rapid transit system linking the eastern and western parts of the city.
Hitoshi said if all public transportation systems were well integrated and carried sufficient passengers, inner-city congestion would ease.
Jakarta is one of Asia's megacities with abundant private vehicles. An international collaborative study conducted in Asia in 2004 under the STREAM project showed Jakarta had the second-highest motorcycle ownership among seven countries observed, with 339 units for every 1,000 people.
Jakarta also had about 180 cars per 1,000 people, far higher than Shanghai's 50.
The high private vehicle ownership is the consequence of the high property prices that force people working in Jakarta to live in neighboring cities, the study said.
The study also showed the population in Greater Jakarta from 1980 to 2000 relatively constant at around 7 to 8 million people, while the population in neighboring cities grew from 9 million in 1990 to about 14 million in 2000.
This has driven more people commuting to the city every day.
Jakarta has various means of public transportation, from minivans to the latest busway system.
However, these have yet to provide a fast and reliable service that entices residents into leaving their cars and motorcycles at home.
To answer the growing public complaints on the worsening congestion over the years, the central government and the city administration has agreed to build six inner city toll roads, which will cost the central government and city administration Rp 40 trillion.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation has agreed to finance the Tanjung Priok turnpike that would span from Rorotan in North Jakarta to the Tanjung Priok port.