Sunday, January 18, 2004

Fuss over Busway

Fuss over Busway

I'm not sure if I'll get a chance to try the new public transportation system called the Transjakarta Busway, launched last Thursday when I left for my Semarang trip. The service is free for this coming two weeks but queues at the stations are long.

I wish the service had been launched earlier--it would have been convenient for me going to and from work between Thamrin and Sudirman. I could also easily catch the Busway to go to my favourite cineplex at Block M or go north to Kota for some Chinese food.

Most people I talk to doubt the new transportation system--which is basically an LRT on wheels-- will help alleviate the traffic congestion in Jakarta. But then these are people who usually drive--the Busway system has definitely inconvenienced them because the already congested Jalan Sudirman and Kota now have two lanes less for cars. It is yet unclear whether the system will be a success.

The project seemed rather hastily embarked upon. Lanes designated "Busway" have been painted since early last year but no activity had taken place until the last couple of months when there was a sheer frenzy of construction to meet the January 15 2004 dateline. Though initial reactions from the commuting public seemed enthusiastic (perhaps because it is still free), the project has been plagued with a myriad of problems including the lack of feeder bus services and rumours of the drivers themselves going on strike.

Well, I won't be around in Jakarta long enough to enjoy the service. I will be back in KL taking the Kommuter, Star, Putra and KL Monorail. Every city needs a good public transportation system. During colonial days, Jakarta had a good electric tram system criss-crossing the city (Singapore had one too but not KL). Though at times a nuisance, bajajs, becaks and ojeks have served the masses well as cheap forms of public transport. Time will tell whether the Busway will go a long way towards providing Jakartans with a more viable and comfortable alternative.

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