Thu, 10 Apr 2003

Jakarta busway project infeasible

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The busway project from Blok M in South Jakarta to Kota in Central Jakarta is financially infeasible as it only serves 12.9 kilometers of road, a transportation expert says.

Lloyd Wright of the Bogota-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy said the first stage of a similar project in Bogota, whose territory smaller than Jakarta, covered 40 kilometers of roads.

"Jakarta is larger than Bogota, therefore its first busway project should cover more road," Wright told councillors and city administration officials on Wednesday.

Wright did not elaborate on the calculation of the project costs, but stressed the need for the city administration to extend the road covered by the bus rapid transit project before launching it.

He recommended the development of another busway running east to west. He also stressed the need to develop feeder services.

"Without adequate feeder services, passengers may not move from the old bus routes."

Wright also stressed the need to fully integrate the project with other transportation systems in order to resolve transportation problems in the city.

The Jakarta city administration has begun developing the bus rapid transit, known as the busway project since last year as part of the effort to resolve the city transportation problem.

But the project has sparked criticism from transportation experts who believe it will fail. Some even say it will worsen traffic congestion in several areas.

The project was expected to be launched late last year but was delayed due to poor planning. Trials without passengers have been underway since early this year.

The city administration allocated Rp 50.8 billion for the project last year but costs have blown out to Rp 90.25 billion.

To save public funds, Wright advised the administration to only use state funds to finance infrastructure and private money to buy buses.

Wright said there were international financial institutions who could be invited to help finance the project, but the city administration should ensure that the project was the best design.

He also stressed the need for a strong vision from senior city officials to create a good transportation system.

City administration spokesman Muhayat said Governor Sutiyoso would visit a number of cities in Latin America this month to hold a comparative study on the bus systems. The cities would include Bogota, Curittiba in Brazil, and Mexico City in Mexico.

He would leave the city on April 26 and returned on May 2.