January 16, 2024
Jakarta’s traffic was worse in 2023 than in the year before, even as its global traffic ranking improved slightly as measured by Dutch navigation firm TomTom.
The company’s annual report ranked Jakarta as the world’s 30th-most-congested city, down one place from 2022 when it placed 29th.
But despite the slight improvement, Jakartans actually spent more time in traffic last year than in 2022.
The average Jakartan spent a total of 117 hours driving in rush hours in 2023, or 10 hours and 21 minutes longer than in the previous year. Drivers also took an average of 23 minutes and 20 seconds to travel 10 kilometers last year, 40 seconds longer than in the previous year.
Jakarta had recorded improved congestion figures during the COVID-19 pandemic because of a decrease in public mobility amid health restrictions. At the height of COVID-19 outbreak in 2021, Jakarta placed 46th in the TomTom traffic index, the lowest in its history.
But much of the capital’s traffic has returned since 2022, when pandemic restrictions were eased and later lifted completely, although congestion levels are still below those of the pre-pandemic era, during which Jakarta regularly ranked among the 10 most congested cities in the world.
Transportation analysts have attributed Jakarta’s traffic improvement in recent years to the city’s ongoing efforts to expand and improve its public transportation system.
In 2019, the city introduced its first MRT line, which runs 15.7 kilometers from Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia (HI) traffic circle in Central Jakarta. It also opened the 5 km LRT line from the Jakarta International Velodrome in East Jakarta to Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta.
The Jakarta administration also expanded the Transjakarta bus service several times.
In July of last year, the government launched the Greater Jakarta LRT, a 42 km line that connects Jakarta with two of its satellite cities: Depok and Bekasi in West Java.
This year, Jakarta has allocated Rp 6.9 trillion (US$446.9 million) of the city budget to curb traffic congestion, particularly by improving public transportation.
To further alleviate traffic woes, the Jakarta Transportation Agency has installed some 20 AI-powered traffic lights, which analyze the optimal green light duration based on the number of vehicles passing through and calculate the time they need to go from one traffic light to another.
Deterring private vehicles
Despite the ongoing efforts to improve public transportation, expert Djoko Setijowarno said there would not be any significant improvement in Jakarta’s perennial traffic problems unless authorities took measures to discourage the use of private vehicles.
“We need a push-pull strategy to counter congestion. Pulling people to use public transportation by improving services and expanding the networks and pushing people to switch from using private vehicles by raising parking fares and implementing electronic road pricing,” he said.
Since 2007, Jakarta authorities have periodically floated the idea of implementing electronic road pricing (ERP), a scheme that would require drivers to pay at varying rates to use certain major thoroughfares in the capital. Opinion remains divided over how effective the policy would be.
Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) deputy head Harya Setyaka Dillon said implementing ERP and increasing parking rates in downtown areas would be much more effective at controlling traffic than the existing odd-even license plate policy, an alternate-day travel restriction based on license plate numbers that began in 2016.
Currently, the scheme applies to 26 thoroughfares in Jakarta. Experts, however, have long described the policy as ineffective as many vehicle owners bought a second vehicle to evade the restrictions instead of using public transportation.