Jakarta- We arrived at Bung Karno International Airport six days ago and the first thing we noticed was their new Terminal 3 which is huge and you have to use a series of walkalators if you want to avoid a 500-600 meter walk to claim your baggage. But staff and volunteers for the Games or the Asiad were very helpful and hospitable accompanying accredited guests, athletes and media to the express lanes of immigration counters. We also noticed the security people using Segway-types of solo rides to move fast from one point to another.
Outside the terminal, we noticed trains which they call the Skytrain which looked relatively new but we asked volunteers which was the cheaper and faster way for us to go to the city considering we had baggage and we were told it was by taxi. So the three of us hopped on to an airport taxi, a Toyota Avanza. The driver quoted 350,000 rupiah for the 30-minute trip. It already included toll fees. As we computed on board, it was about P1,300 in our currency. It was a smooth ride in which we passed from one tollway to another where we saw traffic in the parallel service roads as we moved fast and traffic-free.
Along the way, we were impressed by colorful Asiad merchandise and the plants and flowers on the center islands and the greenery on the open space. We then checked in at our Airbnb unit on the 16th floor of a resort-like compound with a golf course as our view from the window. We took a Grab, a Suzuki Ertiga, to the PJI, 10 minutes away, where Hidilyn Diaz would be going for the gold in the 53-kg division in weightlifting. We arrived just in time, an hour before the competition began. As had been splashed all over newspapers and shown on TV and heard on radio, Hidilyn snatched the country’s first gold in suspenseful fashion while the Rain-or-Shine Pilipinas engaged China in a very tight basketball game.
We then proceeded to the Athletes Village nearby on another Grab to arrange for a visit the next day. The Athletes Village which houses more than 3,000 athletes and coaches and officials on 10 high rise towers was built in such a way that no motorized vehicle would be used in the area except for a few electric powered carts. The hundreds of buses lined up on a spherical road built around the village. While media have free access to the official shuttle buses and trains, we felt we could save more time by taking cabs or grabs. But as in several big sports events we covered in the past, we have to do a lot of walking.
Inside the close to 300-hectare Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Sports Complex where athletics, aquatics, basketball, volleyball, baseball, squash, badminton and other events are being held, the organizers provide free shuttle buses for thousands of spectators.
Jakarta’s main roads are wide but authorities have built designated stops for the buses to load and unload passengers. The bus stop areas have been integrated into roofed pedestrian overpasses and the bus lanes or as they call it here, the busways have one lane only which is lined by concrete dividers leaving buses no choice but to toe the line.
To this writer, this is something authorities back home can look into if they want to improve traffic and discipline bus drivers. To maximize commuter occupancy, there are also bus units that are linked, meaning two buses that form into long single unit, something we’ve seen in Barcelona, Spain and Adelaide in Australia.
Since 2016, the capital city has been restricting odd-plated vehicles from entering certain major roads on even-numbered days and vice versa, to ease traffic congestion. For the Asian Games, they have expanded the number of hours for the odd-even scheme. The system has also been implemented to other arteries. On highways, special lanes for Asiad buses and cars are marked by maroon paint to provide faster travel for Games participants.
In 2017, Jakarta was the world’s 12th most congested city, according to the Inrix Traffic Scorecard, losing about Rp 100 trillion ($6.9 billion) annually from its traffic. Sounds familiar as we also lose billions to traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
The Greater Jakarta Transportation Body (BPTJ) decided to extend the odd-even traffic system to the capital’s busiest areas like Jalan HR Rasuna Said, Jalan Metro Pondok Indah, and Jalan MT Haryono to name a few to ease traffic during the Games for 10,000 athletes and more than 200,000 spectators.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, a former mayor of Surakarta and former governor of Jakarta, is credited for having built the Jakarta MRT and monorail project in 2013 but the monorail gave way to LRT later. Widodo’s motorcycle ride to the Opening Ceremony of the Games last August 18 went viral on social media.
There are also thousands of people using motorcycles for their daily ride although the number of motorbikes would not exceed that of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
We have not maximized the use of shuttle buses but the spectators definitely did. We opted more for the Transport Network Vehicle Services or TNVS here. This gave us a chance to ride, in addition to Avanza and Ertiga, the Nissan Grand Livina, Honda Mobilio and Brio, Datsun and Daihatsu cars and Toyota Vios. The police use a lot of Mazda 6 and even BMW motorcycles for their patrols. A few times we rode Isuzu mini buses which were similar to the modern PUVs now being introduced in Metro Manila.
Indonesia’s oldest city, Palembang, co-hosts the Asiad but we read that it also has its own LRT and similar transport as Jakarta.
The Asian Games go on until September 2 but so far there have been no reported major traffic buildups even if some roads were closed early morning of Saturday and Sunday to give way to the Men’s and Women’s Marathon, respectively. The keys to the generally smooth traffic flow here are the infrastructure, good roads, good traffic and police personnel, disciplined PUV, taxi and TNVS drivers and the people themselves who don’t mind walking to the designated bus stops.