Jakarta Post – Increasingly infrequent service on most corridors of the Transjakarta bus network has contributed to falling passenger numbers, according to a think tank.
Data from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) show substantial decreases in the average number of Transjakarta buses per hour on eight of the network’s 12 corridors this year compared with 2012.
This year, an average of 27 buses per hour connected Blok M in South Jakarta and Kota in West Jakarta on Corridor 1, while in 2012, the route was plied by an average of 40 buses per hour.
‘The most significant decrease can be seen on Corridor 2 connecting Harmoni in Central Jakarta to Pulogadung in East Jakarta, from 43 buses per hour in 2012 to only nine buses per hour in 2015,’ ITDP country director Yoga Adiwinarto toldThe Jakarta Post via email recently.
Based on the data, Transjakarta buses could serve an average total of approximately 15,200 passengers per hour in 2012, and only 14,100 passengers per hour in 2015.
According to Yoga, blockages in Transjakarta lanes, which cause the buses to use the congested normal lanes, and the large number of damaged buses are among the main factors behind the worsening service.
‘A lack of skilled human resources and technology have also caused poor operational planning on the Transjakarta system,’ he said.
Yoga added that decreased frequency meant additional waiting time for passengers, especially during peak hours, forcing some passengers to use other forms of public transportation such as Metromini and Kopaja buses.
More worryingly, transportation observers fear that further declines in the Transjakarta service will lead passengers to opt for private vehicles.
Launched in 2004, the Transjakarta bus network was designed as a transitional mode of transportation that the city could afford with its own budget in response to the sluggish progress of the construction of the mass rapid transit (MRT) system, which involved the central government.
Transjakarta was expected to lure the middle classes to switch to public transportation and leave their private vehicles at park-and-ride facilities located near certain bus shelters.
Jakarta Transportation Council (DTKJ) head Ellen Tangkudung said the council had received repeated complaints about Transjakarta, including regarding broken air conditioners on a number of buses.
‘We fear passengers will give up on the Transjakarta buses and use their cars or motorcycles if there is no improvement in the service,’ Ellen said.
David Tjahjana of the Suara Transjakarta passengers’ community said a lot of passengers had complaints about the system, especially regarding the buses’ condition and lengthy waiting times.
‘There are a lot of factors that make them unhappy, from the long waiting time to security issues. This makes passengers consider switching to other forms of public transportation or even private transportation,’ David said over the phone.
According to the group, the emergency doors on some Transjakarta buses have been welded shut and cannot be opened.
Many passengers were hoping for an improved service, or at least a return to the previous level of service, after the bus management was taken over by PT Transportasi Jakarta, David said.
‘The city can start by keeping Transjakarta lanes clear of other vehicles,’ he said.