April 23, 2009

One Project At A Time Keeps Congestion Away, Experts Say (Jakarta)

Jakarta’s administration should focus on one public transportation project at a time, to avoid projects being half completed and unsuccessful, like the waterway and monorail projects, urban planning experts said Wednesday.

Despite worsening traffic conditions in the city, the administration has not yet managed to develop any form of efficient public transportation, said urban planning expert Yayat Supriatna.

“The administration is inconsistent in developing transportation systems. It should prioritize and focus on completing one project before starting another,” he said, citing several unfinished projects.

Despite the monorail project not being completed, the administration went ahead with building the waterway, which has been considered a failure.

“Existing modes *of transportation*, such as the Transjakarta bus, have yet to be optimized by the administration. To some extent, they only create new traffic problems,” Yayat said.

The administration has been planning to build the monorail project since 2003, erecting pillars in the middle of several main streets. However the project is now in a deadlock due to legal and financial problems.

Yayat said the project was still feasible, but needed stronger commitment from the administration and the company consortium.

Furthermore, he warned administrative uncertainties in transportation projects could lead to stakeholder distrust and hamper the improvement of the entire system.

The Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said the city’s infrastructure could not catch up with the growing number of vehicles.

The group estimated that if vehicle growth rate continued to hover around an annual two-digit percentage without any breakthrough in transportation and traffic management, the city would be paralyzed by 2014.

“We are concerned the worsening traffic will create environmental health problems, as well as economic losses,” said ITDP director Milatia Kusuma.

“Expanding roads or building new ones will only generate more congestion. One way to address congestion is to encourage private vehicle users to use public transportation. But we cannot force them if the existing modes *of transportation* are inconvenient,” she said.

She also blamed the administration for privileging private vehicle users, instead of siding with public transportation users, just because they contributed more taxes.

“Public transportation users have always been treated as second class citizens.”

Bambang Susantono of the Indonesian Transportation Society said catastrophic traffic conditions regularly occurred when it rained heavily.

“The problem is not only the traffic, but also about the messy spatial planning,” he said.

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