From Busway System to Monorail Dream

With a population of about 8.5 million, Jakarta has become intensely crowded and increasingly mired in problems related to traffic congestion. Flyovers and underpasses have been built but they cannot keep up with increases in the size of the population and the number of vehicles on the roads.

Some people estimate that Jakarta’s population surges to some 11 million people during the day because people living in buffer towns come into the city to work. It is not difficult to imagine just how chaotic traffic in Jakarta is!

In addition to a busway system, the Jakarta administration also plans to introduce other means of mass transportation, such as a monorail and water transportation, to cope with the traffic congestion. People living in Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi will hopefully one day be able to travel into the city on an efficient and comfortable mass transportation system.

However, it is true that any mass transportation system for Jakarta is still all talk as of this point. Although the city administration expects an integrated transportation system to be realized by 2015, resident hope to be able to enjoy a modern and comfortable transportation system much sooner.

At present only the busway system has been introduced, but in its present state the system only serves one corridor, namely the Blok M-Kota route. It is hoped that the busway will be able to improve the appearance of the city and boost economic activity. The performance reliability of the busway system, better known internationally as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), plus the effectiveness of the investment costs involved, have made this system the right choice for many developing countries, Indonesia included, in improving their public transportation systems.

Unfortunately, Jakarta has yet to meet all the prerequisites necessary for the success of this system. A highly partial project-style approach has led to misperceptions on the part of the public in viewing the concept of the busway system as the right way to reform Jakarta’s public transportation system.

Meanwhile, the monorail as a rapid transportation alternative for heavily congested Jakarta is, at best, just a topic of discussion, with still no real signs that construction has begun on such a system. The government adopted the idea of a monorail system from Malaysia. Actually, the system under discussion here is more suitably called a monotrack because it uses a single track, unlike the railway line used by state railway company PT Kereta Api.

According to Sukmawaty Syukur, director of Indonesia Transit Central (ITC), the company that holds the concession for the construction of the monorail, there will be three primary routes for the monorail system in Jakarta. These will be the 70 kilometer-long East-West corridor (Cikarang-Bekasi-Jakarta-Tangerang), the 25 kilometer-long North-South corridor (Bintaro -Blok M-Kota) and the 20 kilometer-long Jakarta CBD corridor (Golden Triangle-Manggarai). If the monorail does come to operate along these three corridors, traffic congestion in Jakarta would be much reduced, if not removed entirely.

Photo by Hari Menon on Unsplash

However, ITC, as the partner of Malaysia’s Mtrans, has put forward only plans for the first-stage of monorail construction, namely the track along the 22.5 kilometers from Bekasi to Mega Kuningan. If this plan gains approval, the second stage will involve the Jakarta-Tangerang route and the Bekasi-Cikarang route.

The monorail is a modern and traffic-congestion-free urban transportation system. It is cheaper than a light-rail transit (LRT) system, which requires heavy-duty construction. In addition, the monorail would only require 2.5 years to build while an LRT would certainly take more time. “The monorail is the best option for a city like Jakarta,” Sukmawaty said.

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