The Jakarta Post
The seventh Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia in Nusa Dua, Bali, concluded on Thursday with a commitment by Asian countries to implement sustainable transportation systems with the signing of the Bali Declaration on Vision Three Zeros ' Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution and Zero Accidents.
The international forum welcomed representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam, as well as international organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies, NGOs, research organizations and sustainable transportation professionals.
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) founder and managing director for policy Michael Replogle underlined that among several crucial sustainable transportation measures to realize the Vision Three Zeros was the implementation of a vehicle quota system.
'The automotive industry has a lot of political and economic power in Indonesia. I think every place that is dealing with this issue has to deal with the politics in its own way. It takes political leadership,' Replogle told The Jakarta Post.
'Shanghai, for example, is a major center of vehicle manufacturing, yet it was the first city in China to adopt a motor vehicle quota. And they have succeeded; as Shanghai has had a motor vehicle quota for the past 15-20 years, they have been able to limit the growth of traffic to half of what it would have been had they pursued an non-managed motorized vehicle policy,' said Replogle.
He also cited China's capital, Beijing, known for its horrendous traffic congestion, which has in the past year adopted a motor vehicle quota, while India's government has also taken steps to encourage larger cities like Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad to adopt a vehicle quota system and traffic management system.
'It is timely for Indonesia, to manage car use before there's no way back. Indonesia's city leaders, civil society and business leaders need to find ways to work together and overcome the political challenges and to adopt these policies to strengthen the economy and the environment. This will be in Indonesia's long-term interest to make it an attractive place to invest and do business,' urged Replogle.
After decades of heavy reliance on roads and motorized vehicles as the country's backbone of land transportation, Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono acknowledged that it was high time for cities nationwide to develop integrated transportation systems that did not solely depend on roads.
Citing World Bank data showing that Indonesia's medium-sized cities with populations above 500,000 displayed the greatest economic growth, of around 7 percent annually, Bambang added: 'We are accelerating the development of mass transportation systems in our 14 major cities. Soon, we will also perform those measures in other medium-sized cities, so that it will not be too late for them.'
Bali itself was among the places backed by the ministry to initiate its own integrated mass transportation system, called Trans Sarbagita, in late-2011. The Trans Sarbagita public transportation system recorded 2,886 passengers daily in 2012, and is estimated to have reduced the number of motorcycles roaming the roads of southern Bali by 1,449 per day.
However, the head of Bali's Transportation Agency, Dewa Putu Punia Asa, expressed his doubts on the implementation of Vision Three Zeros. 'Our regional revenue comes mainly from motorized vehicles, which are the main source of pollution and congestion. Meanwhile, the central government has not applied any quota on motorized vehicles marketed in this country.'
Around 80 percent of Bali's annual revenue comes from motorized vehicle taxes.