Seven years ago this month, then governor Sutiyoso inaugurated the TransJakarta busway by opening corridor 1 connecting Blok M and Kota.
Nine routes and 500 buses later, TransJakarta is considered woefully inadequate and is plagued with chronic problems that prevent it from providing quality services to commuters.
Institute of Transportation Studies director Darmaningtyas said Thursday that the city administration had not done enough to solve the problems besetting TransJakarta, a lapse that prevented it from becoming a reliable mass transportation service.
“The city administration has begun to tackle the problem, but it is not enough to attract more people into using the system,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Launched on Jan. 15, 2004, TransJakarta Busway has made a transition from being Sutiyoso’s pet project with only 54 buses running along the 12.9-kilometer Blok M-Kota corridor 1 to being a mass transportation system crisscrossing the city and passing along some of its most congested thoroughfares.
But as the city decided to expand the network, its services have been steadily deteriorating.
During rush hours, for instance, passengers can be seen crowding the shelters waiting for TransJakarta buses that are slow to arrive.
Officials have blamed the lengthy wait on a number of factors. One of the chief reasons for the long wait that city officials are fond of citing is the difference in price for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) resulting from the disparity in prices set by state gas company PGN and state oil and gas company Pertamina.
The central government has set the price of LPG at Rp 3,100 (34 US cents), but Pertamina still sells the fuel at Rp 2,562, prompting the TransJakarta operator to buy fuel at Pertamina fuel stations, which causes long lines at gas stations and affects travel time.
Last month, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said it would issue a regulation to settle the price difference. But bureaucratic red tape has hampered the way for TransJakarta to have a single price for LPG.
Motorists driving on TransJakarta busway lanes have also become a headache for operators.
In November, the city administration in collaboration with the Jakarta Police, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the City Transportation Agency embarked on a campaign to keep private vehicles off busway lanes
With 524 buses currently plying 10 routes, the city administration considers it has covered almost every corners of the city. “With two new routes, it is now pretty easy for people to get around the city using the TransJakarta network,” Udar Pristono, head of Jakarta Transportation Agency, said.
Darmaningtyas, however, disagreed with Pristono. “We still lack a proper and dedicated feeder system to support the routes,” he said.
The administration has tried to set up a feeder system a number of times in past years, but has been unsuccessful.
In its latest attempt, the administration plans to tender three feeder routes connecting areas in West Jakarta with TransJakarta’s corridor 3, and Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and the Sudirman Central Business District with corridor 1.
The city had planned to have 15 routes operating by the end of 2012, but decided last year to drop three planned routes. The scrapped three routes are corridor 13 connecting Ciledug and Blok M in South Jakarta, corridor 14 connecting Kalimalang in East Jakarta and Blok M, and corridor 15 connecting Depok and Manggarai in Central Jakarta.