Mon, 13 Mar 2000

Special bus lane planned for Gambir to Blok M route

JAKARTA (JP): The City Traffic and Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ) is to establish a bus lane serving passengers to and from Gambir railway station in Central Jakarta and Blok M Bus terminal in South Jakarta, an official said on Friday evening.

Agency head Buyung Atang said at City Hall the proposed route would likely utilize the far left of what is currently the streets' fast lane.

"The new bus lane will enable buses to use the fast lanes instead of the slow ones in order to avoid traffic congestion," he said.

"We will purchase about 50 buses to serve the new route," Buyung added, without giving further details on the budget required.

He said Governor Sutiyoso had agreed to the proposal and had ordered a team to evaluate it before its enactment.

He said people in the middle to upper income bracket would be the main target for the bus lane. Buses serving the route would be designed much better than the existing air-conditioned buses, he added.

"Our main targets are businesspeople and employees working along the busy streets of Jl. MH Thamrin, Jl. Sudirman, and Jl. Sisingamangaraja," Buyung said.

"We expect those people to leave their cars at home and instead use these new buses which can travel quickly through congested streets," he said.

Each of the streets to be passed by the buses has three fast lanes and two slow lanes.

Currently, city public buses use the slow lane together with minibuses and private cars, often causing heavy traffic congestion.

Under the new plan, no other vehicles would be allowed to use the special lane, Buyung said.

"The fast lane can still accommodate two more lines of cars."

He therefore believed that the new system would help beat the chronic traffic jams on the route.

"The agency also plans to carry out similar schemes along Jl. Pramuka in East Jakarta and in other heavily congested routes," he added.

The fare for the new buses has not yet been set, but Buyung assured that it would not be much more expensive than the current fare of Rp 2,300 (30 US cents) per passenger for air-conditioned buses in the city.

He, however, did not explain how passengers would be able to catch the buses. As the plan stands, they will have to cross two slow lanes, which are usually heavily jammed with vehicles, to do so.

The kilometer Gambir to Blok M route is one of the busiest in the capital as it is mostly lined with skyscrapers.

Separately, the intercity Pulogadung bus terminal in East Jakarta was operating normally on Sunday after the violent that took place there a day earlier.

Governor Sutiyoso is scheduled to summon the bus terminal's chief Nadias Syam to hear a firsthand report on the clash, which erupted following a raid by DLLAJ officials against street vendors at the terminal.

"The vendors have resumed their activities as if there wasn't any trouble at all," a terminal official, identified as Bari, said on Sunday.

Some 500 fruit, candy and cigarettes vendors pelted and broke the windows of six intercity buses on Saturday in a protest against the rough actions of DLLAJ officials assigned to drive them away from the station.

Nadias said the vendors were violating a city bylaw on bus terminal management. They had already been given several warnings to leave the terminal, he added.

While traders claimed that DLLAJ officials had conducted rough raids almost every day over the past week.

The traders said they were worried that taking their business outside the terminal might cause traffic jams.

Saturday's clash was the third violent incident in the past two weeks related to city officials' efforts to uphold public order in the city.

On Feb. 29 a mob burned and damaged three official vehicles following a crackdown against becak (pedicab) drivers in North and West Jakarta. The second incident took place last Tuesday when street vendors attacked 10 officials after a dawn operation.

In late February, Buyung said he would replace terminal chiefs who had failed to uphold public order and maintain tidiness at terminals.

"I have ordered them to rid the terminals from vendors, pickpockets, hoodlums and the like. Most of them have failed to do so," he said. (nvn)