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Is Jakarta’s BRT System Better than Malaysia’s MRT System?

The rest of South East Asia has a lot to learn from Jakarta’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

Although the Indonesian capital’s transportation system isn’t nearly as posh as Malaysia’s MRT system, for example, it has provided a faster and cheaper way to get around the city.

Back in the early 2000s, the-then governor, former general Sutiyoso, having viewed Bogotá’s revolutionary BRT system, elected to introduce a similar version in the capital – implementing the first route along the Jalan Sudirman/Jalan Thamrin, north-south axis. This was part of a solution to the congestion the city was facing.

Given the financial constraints at the time, resources were extremely limited. The BRT – operated by PT Transportasi Jakarta (“TransJakarta”) – with its cheap and cheerful character offered a ready-made solution. Utilising existing roads and simple construction techniques, the initial route – 12.9km costing only US$29 million to build – has been added to and adapted countless times, so much so that there are now well over 125 routes, 2,000 buses and more than 650,000 passengers every day. Moreover, tickets only cost Rp3,500 or US$0.23.

In comparison, Kuala Lumpur’s MRT, costing US$4.7 billion to build, provides transport for a mere 132,000 commuters every day – still short of the 150,000 target that was supposed to be fulfilled by mid-2017, according to its operator, Prasarana Malaysia. Trip fares can go as high as US$1.50 and even then, the MRT continues to make losses: it needs at least 250,000 passengers a day in order to break even, according to former deputy finance minister Datuk Othman Aziz.

Kuala Lumpur’s public transport ridership rate has also remained stagnant: only 10 percent of daily commutes in the city are made using public transport – the same as it was in 2010.

So what can we learn from Jakarta’s BRT system?

While the MRT and BRT are very different modes of public transport, the underlying point is that hi-tech and/or high-cost doesn’t mean an effective solution.

What do you think about Jakarta’s BRT system? What can be improved? Voice your comments down below!

Source: South China Morning Post

Photo: Wikimedia/Gunawan Kartapranata

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