JAKARTA, Indonesia’s capital, is among world’s most-densely populated cities. Jakarta is home to about 10 million people, but the population of the greater metropolitan area swells to 30 million. Rising vehicle purchases by middle-class consumers (due to poor access to public transport) are squeezing more and more vehicles onto Jakarta’s unchanging road network causing gridlock.
The first underground opened in March this year making a 34-year dream into reality. The opening of seven elevated and six underground stations is seen as crucial to tackle one of the world’s worst congestion. The project, funded through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has been planned since the 1980s, but its construction was hampered by political crises, red tape and funding disagreements.
The line opened is the 16 km transit line running from the heart of the city to the business district in the south, connecting 13 stations. It is expected to move 130,000 passengers a day. The second phase, an eight-kilometer extension to the north, planned for completion by 2024, had a groundbreaking ceremony just after the inauguration of the first subway line.
JICA has predicted that without a major investment in transportation, Jakarta would be overwhelmed by traffic jams by 2020. The average peak hour speed has “significantly decreased” to 10km an hour, according to the transport ministry. It often can take two or more hours to move 5km in some pockets of the city. Annual losses from congestion are forecasted to reach $6.5b by next year.
But it will take several years for mass rapid transit to make a dent in the congestion. About 1.4 million people commute into central Jakarta on work days.