World through my eyes
When erstwhile Congress government in Delhi was planning a BRT corridor to decongest traffic in the Indian capital city, it said that its officials had studied many such projects around the world and learned from them, presumably they even visited those countries. I don’t know whether Jakarta was one of those cities or not. But after spending just over a day in the Indonesian capital, it was not at all tough for me to notice the glaring dissimilarities between the two. I could easily conclude why BRT was such a glorious failure in Indian capital and why it is gloriously successful in Indonesian capital.
Delhi’s BRT was very unceremoniously dismantled just recently, its few relics are still standing on the roads. But story for Jakarta was totally different. As I mentioned in my previous post on Indonesian Capital, TransJakarta has the world’s longest bus rapid transit routes. As we can see in the image below, there are all types of buses- normal, low-floor, vestibule buses, et.al.
Well, as I said, TransJakarta has the longest BRT route in the world of 172 km in length and has more than 669 buses in operation. But it is not a very old network and its first line opened in January 2004 and now it has fifteen corridors. Jakarta BRT was itself modelled on Bogota’s TransMilenio, which even Delhi’s transport authorities tried to follow but in a very poor manner. So, we can see that how a same Bogota model was implemented in two cities at almost same time in different manner and obviously with just opposite results.
I may not be in position to say anything about the Bogota model, but certainly about Jakarta one through my observations and experience. Delhi and Jakarta, both have similar right-hand driving systems. BRT was designed in both the cities on the central verge. But, while in Delhi we didn’t put a thought on the fact that how the people will access the BRT on central verge, Jakarta has a very clear-cut plan for it. Each and every bus stop on the BRT corridor in Jakarta is made accessible through a foot-over bridge from both sides of the road. These foot-over bridges are also disabled-friendly and are designed so beautiful, that you feel like going over them.
These foot=over bridges have ensured three things- firstly, traffic on the road moves unhindered at smooth speed. Second, people don’t have to walk long to go to the other side of the road, every bus stop there is also a foot-over bridge. And lastly, all passengers of the BRT have easy, comfortable and safe access to the bus stops. Remember! We in Delhi tried to use zebra crossings and traffic lights for the passengers to wade through the traffic and go to bus stops. That was the biggest obstacle in way to success for Delhi BRT.
Very interestingly, in Jakarta there is no barrier between the BRT corridor and the normal road, though it is separately marked with a very low brick lining. Still you won’t find any vehicle jumping in to the BRT corridor during rush hours or traffic jams. Hence, BRT functions smoothly.
The bus stops on the BRT corridor in Jakarta have been designed very thoughtfully. Most of the doors have glass shields which open only when a bus comes to the stop and halts. Height of these doors are exactly in sync with the doors of the buses, so as there is no problem for passengers to move into the bus.
Buses stop exactly at the designated place. (Something we miss so dearly in Delhi)
Even at stops where there are no glass shields (like the one below), passengers will be waiting in a very disciplined manner at the stop for bus to come and make a complete halt.
We often site our huge traffic volume for our problems. But it is also the issue of vision and planning as well as implementation. Jakarta has its own traffic issues. Actually, our guide kept asking us every other minute to be patient with Jakarta’s bad traffic and jams. Still, we found the traffic to be very disciplined at most of the occasions. Jakarta has almost 10 million vehicles in daily use in the metropolitan area. Jakarta City has a population of almost 1 crore (10 million) and the metropolitan area of almost 3 crores (30 million). Not too less by any means!! It has ninth largest urban population density in the world. Many lessons to be learnt.