Monday, 21 March 2016

Jakarta congestion pricing facing problems by charging only main roads

The Jakarta Post reports that the city's planned Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) congestion charging system has been delayed, for governance reasons.  It had previously wanted to introduce the proposal by the end of 2015, which seemed ridiculously ambitious. 

The "ERP management unit" (with the acronym BLUD) has to be set up first, which of course makes perfect sense, and it apparently will be established in July.  Following that establishment, tenders for the design, installation and operation of the congestion pricing scheme will be let.

However, I'd urge some caution.  It would make sense for the ERP management unit to be bedded down and establish its objectives and procurement strategy before jumping into procurement.

As part of that the report notes

Korlantas chief Insp. Gen. Condro Kirono said police were gathering vehicle data for the ERP electronic registration and identification (ERI).

“We have held workshops with police offices and have supervised their digital data collection,” he said. 

A key element of any congestion charge will be reliable identification of number plates and associating plates to owners who can be billed/fined as appropriate. This is already proving to be a problem

The proposed congestion pricing scheme fits into the vision of Jakarta as a "Smart City" although that "Asia One" article weirdly thinks that 4,800 CCTV cameras will help this, when it really has little to do with it (except perhaps a related function of monitoring traffic volumes)

A substantial public marketing campaign is proposed to be launched in September/October, but it does have some major problems as Asia One news reports (includes TV report in English):

One of the challenges facing the implementation of ERP concerns motorists using small shortcut roads. Jakarta has a complicated network of roads which includes small shortcut roads.

The provincial government is well aware that motorists may try to bypass the ERP by using shortcut roads. But while taking such a route may save some money, it may not save time because during peak hours shortcut roads are even more congested.

This of course, is the key problem with proposals to charge only main roads.  There effectively needs to be a cordon put in, or parallel charges introduced for alternative routes.

In addition to pricing, it is useful to take some of the advice from Widya Anggraini, a Jakarta-based urban planner, in this article by City Metric, particularly addressing sexual harassment on public transport and ensuring pedestrian and bicycle access is improved.  This is clearly an important mode now and Jakarta should avoid the mistakes of some other developing country cities in letting these modes be neglected, which of course helps to encourage car use.  Walking and cycling for short trips is an obvious answer both in encouraging efficient use of road space, but also reducing pollution and improving the liveability of the city.  Development does not mean abandoning active modes.

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