Sat, 05 Jul 2003

Integral urban transport, land use and air quality

Lalu A. Damanhuri, Infrastructure Planning & Development Specialist Committee for Infrastructure Development Policy (KKPPI), Jakarta

Busways or segregated bus lanes are lanes primarily for bus operation, and are physically separated from other traffic by medians and barriers with grade separation or priority at intersections. In general, they are the most cost-effective means of transportation, with a demand of up to 20,000 passengers per peak hour per direction.

The Jakarta metropolitan area, called Jabodetabek -- covering Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi -- with 10,000 square kilometers, has 21.6 million inhabitants spread irregularly over five municipalities, which are dominated by Jakarta with 8.4 million inhabitants.

Jabodetabek generates roughly 12 percent of the country's GNP and is considered the most important economic region of Indonesia. Each day, 29 million person trips take place in Jabodetabek, of which 10.6 million are walking trips. Sixty-nine percent of the motorized trips are by private automobile (1,023,000 cars and 419,000 motorcycles), while the remaining 31 percent are by bus and train.

This level of urban transportation activity, dominated by road-based motorized modes, has a significant impact on the Jabodetabek environment. Despite an existing 150-km rail network, the lack of integration between the trains and the suburban vehicle discourages more trips, in favor of buses and the automobile, creating heavy congestion during peak hours which significantly increases home-to-work trip times.

In the Jakarta metropolitan region, any decisions on major policies are likely to have a direct impact on land use and air quality. Similarly, different patterns of land use will also determine the type of transportation systems which can better serve the Jabodetabek population. The government and the core municipality (Jakarta) must be well aware of the interrelationships between urban transportation, land use and air quality, and should explore different scenarios for Jabodetabek urban transportation systems.

The evaluation of different packages of infrastructure policies (such as higher fuel taxes and parking fees, area traffic restraint schemes -- three-in-one areas -- and integrated multimodal fares) were crucial to arriving at an integrated urban transportation, land use and air quality strategy. Furthermore, decision-makers know that while the interlinking of the rail- based network would attract bus and auto users, thereby reducing road congestion, it is necessary to ensure that the rail stations are accessible through a combination of infrastructure which includes not only roadways and busways but also motorcycle ways and safe walkways.

Indeed, the role of non-motorized transport cannot be underestimated since high percentages of all trips in Jabodetabek are made on foot, and there is a high accident rate among pedestrians. Decisions to use quieter and cleaner vehicles have a direct impact on noise and air quality. Likewise, decisions to enforce the inspection and maintenance of road vehicles are likely to impact the air quality of the Jabodetabek area.

Measures to discourage private car and motorcycle use and encourage the use of public transport are essential to reducing traffic congestion and controlling urban sprawl. In Jakarta, the lack of quality public urban transportation has delayed effective road demand management policies. As an essential complement to transportation demand management, public transportation should be made faster, safer, more comfortable and more convenient.

The objective should be as soon as possible to make public transportation attractive not only to lower-income classes but also to middle and upper-income users, who are the main users of the automobile. In Jakarta, public urban transportation is still seen as a low to middle-income transportation mode.

Appropriate design of roads, intersections and traffic controls can eliminate bottlenecks, accommodate public transportation and smooth traffic flow at moderate costs. The Jakarta metropolitan realizes that busway development must be done in conjunction with effective traffic management. Otherwise the road space saved is occupied by more automobile traffic and there is no reduction in traffic congestion.

Some new toll roads, flyovers and underpasses, carefully targeted to relieve bottlenecks and accommodate public transportation, are probably essential, but should be developed only as part of an integrated plan. Planning should encourage urban forms which minimize transportation needs, encourage non- motorized transportation (cycling, walking) and allow for efficient public transportation service. Land-use will determine the most adequate urban transportation mode.

These can dramatically reduce air pollution, noise and other environmental impacts of road transportation. The strategy should also provide for continuous updating and monitoring of effectiveness, by means of an ongoing process of vehicle emissions and traffic measurement, updating of emissions inventory, and transportation and air quality modeling.

An integrated program, incorporating all of these elements, will be required to achieve the long-term goals set by the government and Jabodetabek's Integrated Transportation Master Plan. For example, building new roads, flyovers and underpasses in the absence of measures to limit transportation demand and improve traffic flow may simply result in more roads full of traffic jams.

Similarly, strengthening public transportation will be ineffective in the absence of transportation demand management to discourage car and motorcycle use, and traffic engineering to give priority to public transportation vehicles. Both new road construction and efforts to strengthen public transportation must, moreover, be coordinated with land use planning and regulation, to ensure efficient use of new networks. The strategy must take into account the land use patterns and zoning regulations defined in the master plan.

Disincentives to the continued growth of automobile use in the city such as the introduction of congestion pricing and other demand management measures, will require a parallel improvement in public transportation service. Since road transportation is a major source of pollution, all proposed transportation policies should be evaluated based on their contribution to reduction of noise, air pollution and accidents as well as moving people.

For instance, reduction in noise and air pollution could be supported by transportation proposals that would preclude the circulation within the Central Business District of environmentally inefficient buses by an agreed target date. This, in turn, would require the development of transfer points at the fringes of this area to allow the older buses to continue to operate from the outlying areas, discharge their passengers and return.