Wednesday 7 September 2011

Jakarta to be first of five Indonesian cities to introduce congestion pricing

I wrote in December last year that the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, was looking to introduce congestion charging ala Singapore style (called ERP - Electronic Road Pricing) to address chronic delays on its overtaxed road network. With a metropolitan area population of 23 million people, the pressures on its transport networks are obvious. It has been pushing bus rapid transit, has a metro system, but also desperately needs to preserve walking as a major mode of transport. For congestion charging, all vehicles except buses and emergency vehicles are to be charged.

Singapore ERP on board unit with prepaid smartcard
Since then, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has signed Regulation No. 32/2011 from which bylaws can be made to allow for road pricing on existing roads. The key condition for implementation is “volume ratio of motor vehicles with road capacity, public transport, and the environment”, which appears to be a factor of congestion seriousness. To fully implement the law, bylaws will need to be created first, but the expectation is that will be completed this year.

The Jakarta Globe reports that other cities to have congestion pricing will be Medan, Surabaya, Bandung and Makassar. Medan in northern Sumatra, has a metropolitan population of around 4.2 million. Surabaya in eastern Java, has a metropolitan population of around 5.6 million. Bandung in western Java has a metropolitan population of around 7.5 million. Makassar in Sulawesi has a population of around 1.5 million.

The same report quoted head of the Jakarta Transportation Office, Udar Pristono, saying an electronic road pricing system could only begin to be implemented in 2012. Key issues being installation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and what he described as the “legal aspects” around that. I suspect the problem being ensuring that the vehicle licence plate system is sufficiently robust and accurate to be able to handle the scale of enforcement.

The Jakarta system is to remove the current HOV3 restriction on key arterials that bans cars from using certain roads at peak periods. Instead vehicles will pay to use such roads between 0700 and 1000, and 1630-1930 weekdays. As the scheme is effectively going to be similar to the Singapore one, it will mean prices may vary on specific roads, with prices expected to be between US$0.75 and US$2.50 on different roads at different times according to another report from the Jakarta Globe. Apparently Mitsubishi and IBM have shown interest in establishing the system for Jakarta (although IBM is mis-reported as having installed the London system, when that was the responsibility of Capita Symonds. IBM more recently took over the contract to operate the London system).

Hopefully Jakarta will introduce pricing alongside a comprehensive strategy to support all modes, including crucially, walking (which means infrastructure to enable the crossing of roads). It has already indicated that there will be five new busway corridors.  It will be more attractive to walk with less traffic and less pollution (and no charge), and Jakarta can learn from the failure of many Western cities to take pedestrians into account sufficiently. However, given it has already been forward thinking enough to decide positively that it will introduce congestion charging, the future is bright.  Indonesia is proving that it is able and willing to introduce modern solutions to urban transport problems.

However, there are big challenges for Indonesian cities introducing electronic road pricing systems, around customer service, enforcement and the use of revenues. Good luck with them all in adopting the best congestion charging example in the world today as a starting point – Singapore.

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