Your letters: One way to solve traffic problems
Paper Edition | Page: 8
Jakarta’s traffic problems could be solved relatively easily and cheaply if a number of experiments were allowed. There are many ways to tackle this problem involving varying degrees of pain for the different parties involved.
Crucially, these are ideas which don’t involve the construction of multibillion dollar infrastructure boondoggles which the city cannot afford and which would probably deliver dubious or empty results, notwithstanding their temporary job creation and the enrichment of a few construction firms.
Firstly, I propose that all the gasoline stations in Jakarta (only in Jakarta) raise the price of gas by 200-300 percent or more on certain days of the week or perhaps even permanently.
This extra revenue would be collected directly by the city government at the gas stations and put into a comprehensive multi-year traffic solution program exclusively aimed at Jakarta. Taxis which have valid operating licenses would be exempt in order to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
The same goes with commercial vans and trucks to minimize the impact on business and possible inflation. Indeed taxis and other necessary commercial vehicles could be offered highly reduced gasoline prices and thus the taxis could pass on the savings to commuters.
In addition, all car and motorbike drivers who buy the new expensive gasoline would be given free public transportation vouchers. This would soften the blow a little by giving people a real reward for their money.
This hefty price increase would quickly reduce traffic volume, although it would probably have some unintended side effects as well, just like many good medications do. However the benefits would, I’m sure, far outweigh the cons and ultimately solve Jakarta’s embarrassing traffic mess in a relatively fair, speedy and humane way.
The immediate effects would be multiple: For starters, people would be more likely to car pool and take public transportation instead of selfishly using their own cars and motorbikes. An added benefit would be that the number of motorbike accidents would decrease thus eliminating a lot of acute and wealth-retarding financial crises many uninsured and poor families experience when family members are injured in accidents.
Second, the price increases would make people seriously think of leaving Jakarta altogether if they could no longer afford it or didn’t want to use public transportation; they could move to another city where gas prices are lower.
Third, all car and motorcycle dealerships would have to pay a new traffic tax on every new vehicle sold. This tax would also be collected directly by the city government for the traffic solution plan and would represent their extra contribution toward solving the traffic problem which they are instrumental in creating.
Lastly, all motorcycle dealerships in Jakarta should be forced by law to pay a significant portion of the medical costs if the driver of the motorcycle is proven to be underage and therefore without a driver’s license. It would no longer legal for dealers to sell motorbikes in a risk-free and careless manner.
Indeed, the dealers would be made to financially recognize that their responsibility to the buyer does not end with the sale; this is responsible capitalism and everyone in society benefits.
The dealers must also be involved in the effort to educate drivers and parents in particular, to the dangers of driving without a license and proper training.
It’s time for everyone to pay the price for a better city. The denial, paralysis and silliness have to end.