Nov 13, 2012

Indonesia - Jakarta aims to reduce traffic by 40% in 2 years

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It is now one of the most frequently asked questions: "Does the new Jakarta administration have an effective method to ease traffic?"

The answer is that not only one, but four methods would be applied at the same time to reduce the capital's gridlock problem by 40 per cent, by 2014.

City traffic police deputy director Adj. Sr. Comr. Wahyono said yesterday that his division and the Jakarta Transportation Agency had met last Friday to discuss several measures deemed effective to control the number of vehicles on the road.

"We have agreed to resort to the implementation of an electronic road pricing (ERP) system, firm enforcement of regulations on both traffic and spatial planning as well as vehicle limitation to achieve the targeted 40 per cent reduction," he said.

The police and the transportation agency were currently working on details on the traffic policy, Wahyono added.

Last week, newly installed Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Putut Eko Bayuseno had promised to make "breakthroughs" in easing the city's heavy traffic.

Jakarta is estimated to suffer from total gridlock by 2014 as the number of vehicles on the road has been rising by 11.26 per cent every year, while the number of new roads has only increased by 0.01 per cent each year.

Currently, according to traffic police data, 20.7 million people go in and out of the capital on a daily basis and 56.8 per cent of them use their own vehicle.

The data also shows that on average, commuters need 120 minutes of travel time to get to their destination, with only 40 per cent moving time.

Jokowi had previously said that he was optimistic about the implementation of the pricing system next year after the central government finally approved the pivotal legal basis for its execution.

The police had suggested that the administration set an ERP trip charge somewhere between 50,000 rupiah (US$5.20) and 100,000 rupiah.

The city, however, has said that a trip charge of between 6,500 rupiah and 21,000 rupiah for the planned ERP system would be enough to reduce private vehicle use, reflecting inflation and economic growth.

"The pricing system is expected to discourage motorists from using private cars and use public transportation instead. But, we need a gubernatorial regulation for the implementation," Wahyono said.

Besides the pricing system, Wahyono said that the police and the administration had also agreed to crack down on-street parking and sidewalk vendors to create more space for motorists.

"On-street parking and sidewalks vendors occupy space for motorists, narrowing the roads, leading to congestion," he said.

Wahyono said that the police and administration would also deploy a number of transportation agency officers, Jakarta Public Order Agency, or Satpol PP, and traffic police officers to 70 congestion-prone areas in the capital.

"The sources of congestion in those areas vary, besides they serve as main and busy roads. Officers from the agency and the Satpol PP are required to clamp down on on-street parking, sidewalk vendors and public transportation vehicles that stop illegally," he said.

Wahyono, however, said that nothing mentioned above would work well if the numbers of vehicles in the capital kept increasing.

He said that the police and the administration would look over possible ways to limit the number of vehicles running on the city streets, deeming that banning Jakartans from buying new vehicles would be impossible.

"Banning people from buying cars may violate free trade, so the best we can do is to allow only certain vehicles — either by colour, manufacture year or the number on its license plate — taking turns to run on the streets only on certain days," he said.

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