Thu, 17 Jul 2003

Experts urge postponement of busway despiteb bylaw

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Experts urged on Wednesday the postponement of the controversial busway project due to the absence of an integrated transportation plan, but city councillors appear set to approve a bylaw providing a legal basis for the project.

Ofyar Z. Tamin, a transportation expert from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), suggested that the city administration postpone its plan to launch the busway project, or the bus rapid transit (BRT) system, as it is officially known, until the city had a macro transportation concept.

He advised the city administration to synchronize all the existing means of transportation, like railways, full-sized buses, medium-sized buses and small transportation vehicles, so as to create an integrated system.

He said the effort to integrate the various means of transportation should be included in the draft bylaw on transportation being discussed by city administration officials and the City Council.

"Lack of integration has been the main cause of the chaotic transportation situation in the city," he said during a seminar here.

Similar comments were made by the director of urban transportation systems at the transportation ministry, Suripno, who said that the integration of transportation means would create more efficient and sustainable transport.

According to Suripno, creating an integrated transportation system needed a strong commitment from all stakeholders including the legislature, executive, public transportation operators, law enforcers, and transportation users.

"Without a strong commitment from all those involved, an integrated transportation system will never be created," Suripno added.

The experts' criticisms are unlikely to be heard, with the City Council continuing the discussion on the transportation bylaw, seemingly oblivious to what the public thinks.

In its overview, the council's development commission approved the administration-proposed bylaw, which covers various means of transportation, including the busway project.

If no significant obstacles are met, the bylaw will be endorsed by the council next month.

Development commission member Tjuk Sudono denied that the planned approval was aimed at merely smoothing the way for the launching of the busway project in December.

"We have set ourselves the target of approving the draft by mid August, although there are many issues that still need to be discussed. We will have to work hard on this," said Tjuk, from the National Mandate Party.

Transportation observers earlier criticized the city administration, saying the busway project was poorly prepared and explained to the public.

It is feared the project will only increase traffic congestion in the city as well as damaging the environment due to the plan to erect bus shelters in the median strips on Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

Undeterred by the public criticism, the administration is pressing ahead with the project, and the current draft bylaw appears to be designed to serve as a legal umbrella to cover it.

The project will extend some 15 kilometers from the Blok M area in South Jakarta to downtown Kota in West Jakarta.