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Indonesia's Greater Jakarta LRT expected to cut travel time; expert says traffic congestion issue may remain

Indonesia's Greater Jakarta LRT expected to cut travel time; expert says traffic congestion issue may remain

Two men walking on a platform at one of the stations of the Greater Jakarta LRT. (Photo: Facebook/Kereta Api Kita)

SINGAPORE: Commuters can expect a reduction in travel time as they make their way in Jakarta and its satellite cities with the launch of the Greater Jakarta Light Rail Transit (LRT) on Monday (Aug 28) after several rounds of delays. 

Inaugurated by President Joko Widodo, the line - which covers the Greater Jakarta area - consists of two routes with a total of 18 stations.

The two lines are the Cibubur Line - which runs from Dukuh Atas to Harjamukti - as well as the Bekasi Line, which runs from Dukuh Atas to Jati Mulya.

A map of the stations on the Greater Jakarta LRT. (Photo: X/@lrtjabodebek)

Greater Jakarta, or Jabodetabek, is a large metropolitan area covering Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. 

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi previously told Kompas that the LRT line cuts travel time for commuters as compared to using vehicles on toll roads after testing the service in June. 

He had taken the line from Dukuh Atas station in Jakarta to Jati Mulya station in East Bekasi before making his way to Halim station back in Jakarta. 

It was recorded then that the travel time from Dukuh Atas station to Jati Mulya station took a total of 43 minutes.

"This is faster than using a vehicle even through the toll road, which can take about two hours. By riding the LRT, it can cut the time by a third. This is a significant figure," he was quoted as saying. 

On Monday, Mr Widodo - or Jokowi as he is more commonly known - said that he hopes the new line will help reduce traffic congestion in the capital. 

According to Tempo, Mr Widodo said he wants the public to switch from private to public transport with the new LRT line so that congestion in Jakarta and its surrounding areas can be reduced.

An analyst whom CNA spoke to said that it is not realistic to expect any one public transportation investment to dramatically alter traffic congestion.

“It takes sustained investment in public transport services, as well as policies to manage traffic demand in order to alter congestion over the long term,” said Dr Walter Theseira, an associate professor of economics at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). 

He said that meaningfully addressing traffic congestion issues typically requires addressing both the “supply of public transport services and the demand for private transport”. 

“The experience of most cities is that purely supply-driven policies to improve public transport do not effectively reduce congestion because many commuters still perceive it to be more convenient to drive or use private transport. 

“And the large number of commuters using private transport actually makes it harder to sustainably operate public transport and also degrades the quality of public transport services using surface roads, such as public buses,” Dr Theseira told CNA. 

He added that cities that are regarded as having successfully managed traffic congestion thus typically also have demand-side management policies for private transport. 

Such policies include the restriction of car ownership and usage in Singapore as well as the implementation of parking restrictions in many Japanese cities that effectively make it hard to own and use cars. 

“It is likely that Jakarta will also have to consider these policies at some point, in addition to improving public transport infrastructure,” said Dr Theseira. 

Mr Budi on Monday conveyed his gratitude for Mr Widodo’s support in building an environmentally friendly public transportation system. 

"We thank President Jokowi for giving great inspiration for modern and advanced urban public transport. 

“Thanks to his courage after we started the MRT (mass rapid transit), we now operate the Greater Jakarta LRT and soon there will be a fast train between Jakarta (and) Bandung," said Mr Sumadi. 

Last Saturday, state railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia’s vice-president of public relations Joni Martinus said that the stations on the LRT line are placed in strategic locations ranging from residential areas to business districts. 

“The goal is to make it easier for commuters to transport to and from the capital city or other regions," Mr Martinus was quoted as saying by Antara. 

The Greater Jakarta LRT was supposed to be launched on Aug 18 but was delayed, with authorities citing the need to prioritise safety.

This was in addition to multiple delays in the past. It was first scheduled to begin operations last year, and then in June of this year, the Jakarta Post reported. 

According to Bisnis, the project initially incurred a cost overrun of 29.9 trillion rupiah which later ballooned to 32.5 trillion rupiah. Of this, 2.6 trillion rupiah was covered by the state capital participation using the 2021 State Budget.

Source: CNA/ya(as)


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