Selasa, 03 Juni 2014

Jakarta’s busway: A story
of missed opportunities 
Andre Sinaga, Jakarta | Opinion

Yet another fire on a Transjakarta bus last Saturday, June 2, only served to highlight the deficiencies that remain in Jakarta’s rapid bus service, commonly known as the “busway”. No one was hurt when the bus caught fire near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle but it is symbolic of what the busway has become: A story of missed opportunities.
Theoretically, Jakarta’s busway network was an excellent idea in the effort to reduce traffic congestion in the city. The inefficiency, poor quality and unattractiveness of public buses in Jakarta is certainly one cause of the high number of private cars on Jakarta’s roads.
Hence, creating a dedicated lane to rapid, air-conditioned buses was thought to reduce traffic congestion by drawing commuters away from their cars and onto the busway.
In practice however, the busway — launched for the first time on Jan. 15, 2004 — has failed to significantly reduce Jakarta’s traffic congestion. Rather, it has contributed to further congestion by taking up an entire lane on the road.
This would be fine if buses were constantly using the lane but the presence of a Transjakarta bus is so rare that people are often surprised when one speeds past. Furthermore, the complex and intricate roads of Jakarta mean that many busway lanes are awkwardly rechanneled back into the main road, causing further congestion and slowing down the supposedly rapid nature of
the busway.
Detailed analysis of Transjakarta routes also highlights further issues. Corridor 8, the route going north through Pondok Indah and past the Gandaria City mall, is not connected to Corridor 1, the route passing through the central business district Sudirman-Thamrin.
Since the central business district is the destination for a considerable portion of commuters and a great deal of commuters also reside in South Jakarta, it begs the question why Corridors 8 and 1 are not connected.
In addition, the safety of Transjakarta buses is highly questionable. An official in an article by The Jakarta Post on Monday, June 4, 2012, noted that 10 Transjakarta buses had caught fire in less than a year. This is certainly a factor discouraging users from the busway. It also damages the reputation of this city.
The busway could have been a symbol of a modern Jakarta, a city that now has an effective public bus service like other cities in developed countries. Rather, incidents such as the fire that occurred near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle — one of the most iconic areas of Jakarta — only show how far Jakarta is from being a truly modern city to many people.
Most importantly, however, the lack of coordination between various public bus companies in Jakarta negates any advantage the busway might have. Despite the fact that an entire lane is dedicated for the busway, other public buses still occupy the main road.
This is nonsensical. Slow and cumbersome public buses, which stop to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere and at anytime are a significant factor to traffic congestion. For the busway to have been effective, public buses serving the same routes as Transjakarta buses should have been reassigned to other areas or retired.
This ensures that passengers are filtered into using the busway as well as reducing traffic congestion on the road. As can be seen by the vast presence of public buses clogging up the main road however, this has not occurred.
Hence, the first of several reforms required to create a more effective busway is for Transjakarta to coordinate with other public bus companies. Discussions and firm decision of the Jakarta administration should occur with the aim of reassigning non-Transjakarta buses away from busway routes. This is especially pertinent in areas where passengers without access to the busway are boarding buses that have the same destination as the busway.
Instead, these non-Transjakarta buses should carry their passengers to the nearest busway station. This optimizes the public bus system in Jakarta by making it much more efficient, helping to reduce congestion. One possible scenario is non-Transjakarta buses ferrying passengers from the unconnected Corridor 8 to Corridor 1.
Political barriers are present in the above suggestion. Job losses will admittedly occur as redundant non-Transjakarta buses are retired from service. Compromise and negotiations must therefore occur to achieve an optimum result that minimizes job losses while also increasing efficiency.
Moreover, it is unclear if an authority exists that can reassign routes for public buses in Jakarta. If none exists, one should be made. Public buses serve the public in such a way that is non-exclusive as they occupy public roads and hence a government body that specifically organizes Jakarta’s public bus system is necessary.
The busway must increase its frequency in order to be truly rapid. This will be beneficial to passengers and will serve as a justification for allocating an entire lane to the busway. In order to be rapid, however, busway lanes must be reconsidered in places where the lane is reintroduced into the main road. Often, this causes a bottleneck and congestion and thus the busway route must be redesigned to avoid this.
The safety of Transjakarta buses must also be raised to avoid embarrassing fire incidents. This will increase the attractiveness of the busway, helping to increase passenger numbers, which will in turn increase the rapidity of the busway. It will also improve the tarnished image of Jakarta as a modern city through an effective and highly desirable public bus system.
Several other suggestions on how to improve the busway exist. The idea of a busway is fantastic and could potentially play a major role in reducing traffic congestion in Jakarta for good. Officials and authorities must act now to prevent the busway from continuing its sad tale of missed opportunities.

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