The air was still thick with pollution, food was still easily obtained in a multitude of shapes and forms on even- street corner and great, bustling throngs of people were still trying to move about the city in even manner of conveyance known toman.
I had seen before, something that had really been missing when I was last here a public transportation system that actually shortened travel times and made circumventing Jakartas notorious traffic jams possible, the Transjakarta busway system.
I soon found out that the busway system was in its sixth year of operation, having opened its first corridors back in January 2004. So while it was new to me, it certainly wasnt new to Jakartas many commuters. When I asked my friends what they thought about the busway, most responded positively. The busway drastically reduced the time they spent commuting every day and gave them more time to spend with their families.
Most people also deemed the price very affordable. After using the busway, I was inclined to agree I did get around Jakarta faster than would have been possible before the advent of the busway.
Granted, the motorbike taxis - also known as ojek - could probably have made the trip even faster under the right conditions but only if they traveled at break-neck speed without any regard for passenger safety. In comparison, the busway did seem a much safer option, not to mention a cheaper one. It would of course not take you right to your doorsteep but a little exercise in the shape of a brisk walk never hurt anybody.
After extensive travel on Jakartas many busway routes, my opinion remained unchanged in-so-far speed was concerned. However, a great many incidents during these trips, from Ancol in the North to Kampung Rambutan in the South and from Pulogadung in the East to Kali Beres in the West, made me doubt the efficiency of some other aspects of the system.
Travel information such as map of the different routes was inconsistent, as was information on-board buses in the shape of announcements and the sign that should have been displaying the next stop was there at times but often not When the sign was there, it often remained unlit
All this highly complicates matters for new passengers and makes it much more difficult to get around than it needed to be. Adding to this, not all halte, or stations, are marked clearly and some-rimes they are not marked at all.
This made me think; how does Jakartas busway stack up when compared with its counter-parts in other Southeast Asian cities, cities with much of the same traffic problems as Jakarta?
My first thought went to Indonesias closest northern neighbor; Malaysia and its capital, Kuala Lumpur.
While a variety of buses can be found to take you almost anywhere in the ein-, the modes of public transportation that most closely resemble Jakartas busway would be the Monorail and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) train system.
While the monorail there travels exclusively- above ground, the LRT switches between underground, street-level and above-ground travel.
This lessens the pressure on Kuala Lumpurs already traffic congested streets since no lanes have been closed off for the exclusive use of public transportation. Both the LRT and the monorail are consistently well-marked with signs even-where, public announcements and maps not only in stations but on every train to make getting around easier.
Prices for using the monorail or LRT are slightly higher than for using the busway but not significantly.
Even a little further to the North lies a neighboring capital with a reputation for traffic jams equal to any found in Jakarta; the Thai capital of Bangkok.
Bangkoks BTS system (commonly known as Sky train) stretches across most of the city- and is completely above ground. Frequency- of trains is reliable, with more trains added during peak hours to relieve some of the worst congestion.
faster than its counterparts in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, and adapt to an already existing traffic system at ground level instead of simply going over or under it It is also understandable, given that even the busway buses at intervals has to merge into regular traffic that keeping the frequency of buses regular can be difficult
There can, however, be no excuses for Transjakartas failure to maintain a modicum of consistency when it comes to the little details that makes travel so much easier. Public transportation authorities in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have managed to provide those kinds of details for their passengers and there is really no reason why Jakartans should have to settle for less when using the busway.
Long-term, I believe that a network of above-ground monorails would sen-e Jakartas mass-transit passengers better while it would most likely have a very positive effect on the environment and Jakartas traffic congestion problems. This would be a major undertaking, however, and not something that could be expected to happen overnight
In the meantime, the busway serves Jakartas mass-transportation needs just fine. However when it comes to seeing to those minor details that makes public transportation less of an ordeal, Jakartas busway still has a long way to go.
References : many articles....