Tue, 10 Jun 2003

Another Rp 32b sought for controversial busway project

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration said on Monday it would need an additional Rp 32 billion for its bus rapid transit (BRT) -- or busway -- project, an admission that points to the administration's poor planning of the project.

With the additional fund, which is to be taken from the city budget, the 12.9-kilometer busway stretching from Blok M, South Jakarta, to Kota, Central Jakarta, will cost at least Rp 117 billion.

"There will be significant changes in the designs of the bus shelters and bridges connecting pavements and the shelters located on the median strip," busway project leader Irzal Djamal said.

It was the second revision of the project's budget since the plan was introduced two years ago. Initially, it was estimated that the project would only cost Rp 50 billion. The figure was revised up to Rp 85 billion late last year. The implementation of the project has also been postponed several times already.

Even with the additional fund, Governor Sutiyoso said he could not guarantee that the busway would be completed in December according to the latest schedule, as there might be technical problems.

Sutiyoso said the new design for the 29 shelters would be similar to the busway shelters in Bogota, measuring 13 meters instead of the earlier design of 5 meters, and that owing to the increased space, no air conditioners would be installed as initially planned.

As for the 21 pedestrian bridges, Sutiyoso said they would be resigned as a winding, combined staircase and ramp to provide accessibility for disabled people, instead of a straight staircase.

Irzal explained that the redesigning of the bus shelter required an additional Rp 15 billion, while the change in the bridge design needed Rp 17 billion.

He did not say how much was currently allocated toward the shelters and connecting bridges, but from the previous budget of Rp 85 billion, Rp 35 billion is allocated toward the infrastructure: Shelters, connecting bridges, separators and traffic signs. Another Rp 50 billion will be used to purchase 60 buses.

He stressed that if the busway project was launched in December, the 165 buses now running along the designated busway corridors by eight bus operators -- including state-owned public bus operator PPD, Mayasari Bakti, Steady Safe and Bianglala -- would be rerouted.

Asked if the new buses would be able to accommodate the bulk of passengers who regularly travel from Blok M to Kota, Irzal could not provide an answer, but said that 140 busway buses would be available by 2004.

He also said that the buses for the busway could not use gasoline as planned earlier, because of technical problems, and would instead run on diesel fuel. It takes eight months to process the order for gasoline-powered buses, while another four months would be needed to assemble them.

However, he guaranteed that the emission from the buses would meet the international Euro II standard for environmentally friendly vehicles.

Developed countries generally use Euro III-rated buses.