Stuck in Jakarta traffic: Is the gridlock coming early?

ALL IN ONE: Cars, motorcycles and buses merge from three different roads onto one at Jl. Gatot Subroto, South Jakarta, on an afternoon in this file photo.

Padang ekspres news-ALL IN ONE: Cars, motorcycles and buses merge from three different roads onto one at Jl. Gatot Subroto, South Jakarta, on an afternoon in this file photo. Some cars continue to use the Transjakarta bus lane, as the buses are yet to start operating after repeated delays. (JP/J. Adiguna)

Congestion quickly becomes part of everyday life for anybody who lives in Jakarta.

A recent study showed that 60 percent of the time spent in the Jakarta road network is delayed time, meaning that we spend most of our travel time here stuck in traffic jams.

The economic loss attached to congestion in Jakarta is huge - it can reach more than Rp 8.8 trillion (US$755 million) each year.

This article starts with a discussion on how many roads Jakarta needs, followed by a look at efforts to control the volume of traffic and revitalize the public transport system.

The main argument is that to avoid the looming gridlock, Jakarta has to speed up its initiatives to improve public transportation services and discourage the use of private vehicles downtown.

Roads and vehicle ownershipenough road networks" is often cited as the main factor behind Jakarta's traffic congestion. Jakarta's roads are growing longer by only about 0.01 percent per year, while vehicle ownership is growing by about 9.5 percent per year.

Jakarta has one of the highest vehicle ownership rates of any of East Asia's megacities (see Figure 1). The number of registered vehicles in Jakarta is nearing 9.5 million, including about 2 million cars and 6.6 million motorcycles.

Each day around 1,000 new motorcycles and 300 new cars are registered in Jakarta.

It is forecast that, if everything continues this way, the city's corridors will be in gridlock by 2014. Do we have to build three-layer overpasses to deal with congestion?

Many studies show that increasing road capacity without discouraging use of private vehicles simply leads to even more traffic. This phenomenon is known as induced demand. In a simple way, it can be seen in the development of new roads, underpasses or overpasses in the downtown area.

Initially, congestion will decrease, but after a few months the traffic jams will return with a greater traffic volume.read more

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