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I used to drive in Jakarta to almost anywhere. I started driving back in 1997, when I have my first driving license. It takes me 45 minutes to drive me from my house in Depok to my school in Bukit Duri, without having to take the toll way. In eight years time, the travel time from my home to my school using the same route has doubled. I experience this too when I drive my sister to school, she went to the same school as me.

Now, the suffix for car license number in Jakarta has been added to 3 letters, following the application of the same thing for motorcycle couple of years earlier. FYI the motor vehicle license number in Indonesia has a format of Y(Y) XXXX YY(Y), Y for letters, X for numbers. The first “Y” denotes the origin of the vehicle (B for greater Jakarta area). By adding one more letter to the suffix on the car license number, Jakarta just make way for another 175,760,000 theoretically, if all possible combination of numbers and letters to be used. Adding this possibility to already crowded Jakarta traffic will definitely make Jakarta traffic the worst in the world.

The transportation policy in Jakarta, and most of the cities in Indonesia, is pretty much in favor of privately owned vehicle. Low vehicle tax and price, low parking fare, wide roads, convenient buses and other means of public transport just seem unavailable. With the rapid growth vehicles without addition of road capacity, it has been long poised that in 2014, yes 6 more years, Jakarta traffic will be experiencing a gridlock. Traffic jams also cause more problems, problem with pollution, stress, fuel consumption, inefficient business processes, time consuming and high cost of transportation.

I’m calling for transportation revolution in Jakarta. TransJakarta was a good start actually, but it can only manage to attract people from using regular buses and “metro mini” to it’s fleet. Not good enough to get people leave their cars at home. Transjakarta operation require consistency and strong enforcement of road rules. Busway only for Transjakarta fleets, not for others! This rule shall apply strictly, everyday, 24 7. More buses needed to fill in the gap between fleets in every route, ideally 5 minutes gap at maximum.

In addition to that, to cater the urgent requirement of mass transportation that fast and reliable, train system is required. This can be subway or elevated lines. At least four lines are required in Jakarta. North-South, East – West, North East – South West, North West – South East, with a massive interchange in the middle, let’s call it Jakarta Central. To make it better, two or three circle lines connecting these lines are required. This required massive investment, and in the current global economic turmoil, this could be a way of attracting foreign investment. While the market plummeting in the US and EU, there are countries with over liquidity which cannot be absorbed by US and EU market.

But is the investment really worth it? Well in the long run it should, millions of people comutting in Jakarta daily. How much money evolving in the transport industry? Well you can draw your own calculator for that. But I assure you, it’s a lot of money involve. Now, to make it even better, lets optimise the use of train station from merely a transit place into a market place. If you ever been to Singapore, try walking on the underground connecting City Hall MRT station to Suntec city. It’s a 1 km stretch of tunnel, full of shops and cafe’s along the way. This can be done to, station directly connected to shopping mall, office buildings, and put shops and cafe along the connecting tunnel or bridge. Instead of keeping it void, which invites vandals and criminals, it can be a money making spots. We have a solution for two problems.

Transjakarta for short distance transits, train system for longer distance. Now, it may sound unbelievably dreamy, but it has to be done, somebody has to think of it, figure it out and try to make it happen. This transportation revolution has to be done, to prevent stagnation in the mobility of Jakartans. Now first thing first. What, in my personal opinion, should be done in the beginning.

1. Increase road tax and vehicle tax, to discourage people from buying cars. NOT cutting it down.

2. Increase parking fare, to discourage people taking their cars to their activity.

3. Cut down fuel subsidy, to discourage people using their cars.

4. Start eliminating metro mini and those regular buses with significant strecth of route side by side with Transjakarta, better yet, eliminate all, since most of the traffic problems caused by indisciplinary act of these bus drivers. And I think their presence is not a solution but only caused more problems.

5. Deploy road fare in main streets.

I know, many people will curse, damned me, or whatever, but I don’t care. The automotive industry probably will be the first one. Second probably comes from malls and parking operators. Third probably unuseful politician selling subsidy as their way to the house. Fourth probably a lot of bus drivers in Jakarta. Well here’s my reply before they really cast me for it.

For car manufacturers and dealers, no use having a car, if you cannot drive it anywhere, since once you take it to the steets, it will be stuck in the traffic jam. For parking operators, there is no use having a parking lot, people already parked their cars on the street and took them even longer to get to your place. For politician, the needy dosn’t need fuel subsidy, they are not the one who enjoy it. They need jobs, education and better health care. For bus drivers, dude, you know how much I hate you guys when you are stopping while the traffic lights are green.

Now, this should not be the concern of Jakarta government only. But it shall be national issue, since Jakarta is the center of everything in Indonesia. Business, politics, government, all are mixed in the same pot called Jakarta. Jakartans need this, not more cars or shopping malls. Better, faster and reliable means of transportation all they need to keep Jakarta moving.

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