Asian public transport system hailed a potential "model" for tackling urban congestion.

A major transport conference in Brussels was told that an innovative public transportation system in Asia can be a model for Europe.

Jakarta Public Transportation is pioneering integrated and environmental-friendly transport, the International Bus Conference was told. 

The three-day conference  which concluded on Wednesday (23 October) attracted scores of public transport operators from all over the world. Held at Brussels Expo, the event explored current trends and developments in the bus sector from an international perspective. 

There were 60 international speakers from across the bus sector attending, including Dr Agung Wicaksono, CEO of Transjakarta, a bus rapid transit system in Jakarta, Indonesia. The first BRT system in Asia, it commenced operations on 15 January 2004 to provide a fast public transport system to help reduce rush hour traffic. Wicaksono spoke about how the system has significantly helped cut congestion levels in Indonesian capital. 

Transjakarta serves one of the longest routes in the world, stretching over 250 km and 25 stations and serving 20 million passengers and as one of the largest public transportation operators in Jakarta, it uses the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the first in Southeast and South Asia. 

Wicaksono, during his visit to the Press Club Brussels Europe, explained what Transjakarta does to meet the needs of Jakarta, supported by an integrated public transportation system.

He said, "Jakarta is one of the major cities in Asia which serves 20 million people, both Jakarta citizens and commuters from neighbouring cities. This number is relatively large compared to other capital cities in Asia such as Singapore which only serves 5 million people every day, and requires integrated multi-modal transportation services. 

“This mobilization can provide maximum benefits for economic development both for citizens of Jakarta and neighbouring cities.”

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) estimates that the population of Jakarta in 2019 will reach 10.6 million people, but on working days the number increases to 20m. 

In the last five years Transjakarta has succeeded in increasing the number of public transport users by some 300%, and increasing the coverage area to 77% in five areas in Jakarta. 

The presence of BRT has helped cut congestion levels in Jakarta this year by 8%, the biggest decline compared to other cities and pushed Jakarta down the rankings, from the 4th to the 7th of most congested cities.

Another study by the Asia Development Bank (ADB) also acknowledges efforts by Jakarta in addressing the chronic challenges of the capital city’s transportation system.

Transjakarta has also introduced “Microtrans” which embraces the integration of public transport services.

Dr Wicaksono highlighted differences between the transportation system in Indonesia and other cities, saying, "If in other cities public transportation is regulated by the government, in Jakarta the government embraces the participation of local community as a form of support for the regional economy development.”

Transjakarta has also succeeded, he said, in increasing access to public transport stations and stops as well as creating hubs that support “healthy ecosystems by reducing gas emissions in the air.”

Dr Wicaksono said that starting in 2023, BRT will use electric bus fleets which will help further reduce vehicle exhaust air emissions and create a healthier environment.

Within 15 years, Transjakarta has succeeded changing public behaviour in Jakarta in the use of public transportation and it has received awards for innovations in the transportation system and improving city mobility. 

Transjakarta and the government have had a "positive impact on economic progress and changes in people's behaviour in the use of public transportation.”

The majority of Transjakarta buses are currently dominated by European bus brands such as Mercedes, Scania and Volvo but there are three units of electric buses made in China while others are being tested locally.

Testing the readiness of electric buses is seen as important for Transjakarta in order to adjust to the tropical climate in Jakarta. It currently owns 3,558 bus fleet units with 220 routes, and in 2020 is targeting additional fleet of up to 10,047 units including the microbus. 

Its short-term strategy, the aim, he said, is to ensure residents can find public transportation within a 500-metre radius and to increase the coverage area to 95% in Jakarta.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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