Saturday, 28 May 2011

Jakarta truck ban on toll road ends

On 14 May, I reported on how the city of Jakarta Transportation Agency had introduced a ban on trucks during daylight hours (0500-2200) on the city's inner city toll road.  The ban was temporary to reduce congestion during the ASEAN Summit conference.  The issue has been a hot debate in the city, because the move was intended to reduce congestion on the road and has had some success.   However, it has imposed enormous costs on the road freight sector, and has meant that there has also been much diversion on local streets.

The Indonesian Ministry of Transport has been particularly concerned about the impact on freight distribution, and was exasperated when the Agency extended the ban till 10 June.

I understand Jakarta's frustration, but the solution to congestion is going to be a number of measures:

1.  A shift from manual to electronic free flow tolling.  That requires some key enablers to be realised, but all that will be beneficial for Indonesia (and frankly only needs to be done for Java), and will remove one source of delay.
2.  Peak charging on the toll road to reflect demand.  The road should operate at minimal conditions of flowing traffic.  Charging will divert traffic, but should also incentivise public transport and be a catalyst for the third measure.
3.  Congestion charging for Jakarta.  That will itself make a huge difference, and should revolutionise bus travel and the use of the commuter rail.  

Jakarta will need much more that toll related policies to manage congestion, and general traffic management, policies on safety, ensuring pedestrians can conveniently walk around the city and facilitating public transport will all be necessary.  I just hope Jakarta can also adopt the road pricing measures that will move it great leaps forward in improving urban mobility.

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