A quarter of century late. This is approximately the delay that Jakarta first MRT line had to encounter before the first tunnel drilling was launched last year by Indonesia President Joko Widodo. The launching of Jakarta much expected MRT will certainly be put to the credit of the President, who made the promise to improve public transport if he was elected.
Building a MRT or dedicated transport have turned into an absolute necessity for Indonesia’s capital. Jakarta is suffocating under its heavy car traffic. Economic boom of the last decade adds approximately 1,000 vehicles a day while road development is growing by less than 1% in volume each year. For a 5 to 6 km ride, it often takes over an hour time!
Two MRT lines have been approved in 2013 with work starting in cooperation with Japan back to the end of 2014. The MRT project is driven by a cooperation agreement signed between the Indonesian Government and Japan. Japan is providing a soft loan to Indonesia which will be repaid over the next 40 years.
The first MRT line is built in two phases. Phase one is now constructed and will comprise in its first phase 13 train stations – of which six will be underground. The North-south line will start at Hotel Indonesia in the centre of the commercial town to finish at Kemayoran in South Jakarta, stretching along 15.7 km and transporting on average 173,000 passengers a day.
Travelling time is estimated to last less than 30 minutes, half the necessary time used today in a car. The North South Line is due for completion in 2018 and so far over 45% of the work has been completed. A second phase is turning concrete for an additional 8.1 km expansion. Work on the second phase is due for completion in 2020. Another line East-West is now under study but the government expects that it could become operational by 2024/2027. Once completed, both lines will be the backbone of public transport in the Indonesian capital. An urgent task will however to convince people to use the MRT. This step will be crucial to reduce Jakarta infamous congestion. But it seems to be probably the hardest task for local authorities.