The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Tuesday tried out for the first time the country’s first subway line — the most anticipated infrastructure project in the city in the past 20 years.
After a successful 16-kilometer journey from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta, the President puts high hopes on the MRT to ease traffic congestion in the capital and help residents lead more efficient lives.
"[With the MRT], people's lives will become more efficient," Jokowi told reporters, "We talked on the train about the tariff, which will range from approximately Rp 8,000 to Rp 9,000 [54 to 61 US cents]."
An integrated public transportation system, including the MRT, the light rapid transit (LRT) system, Transjakarta and the airport train, was key to easing chronic traffic congestion and reducing the use of private cars in Greater Jakarta, he said.
During the inspection, Jokowi noted that construction of phase one of the MRT was already 97 percent complete and the train, which is currently in a testing period, could begin operating in March 2019.
Jakarta has been planning the MRT project since the 1980s, but it has been canceled several times for a number of reasons, including the economic crisis in 1990s. Former Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo finally secured a deal with Japan International Cooperation Agency during his tenure, but it was only in 2013, when Jokowi served as governor, that the project started construction.
Jokowi said the second phase of the MRT construction connecting the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Ancol in North Jakarta would begin early next year, in parallel with the East-West MRT line, connecting Bekasi in West Java and Tangerang in Banten.
Other big cities, including West Java's capital Bandung and East Java's capital Surabaya, must begin the plan to construct similar mass transportation services, Jokowi said. "I think mass transportation is the future of our transportation, [especially] to reduce traffic congestion in the cities." (afr/wit)