Solo. Yogyakarta and Solo are preparing to become the first cities in the country to introduce an integrated transportation ticketing system, using a Smart card.
If the experiment works it could point the way to the future of public transportation in Indonesia, particularly in traffic-clogged Jakarta.
Solo has already established itself as a leader in public transportation. It successfully introduced the Prambanan Express Train, a commuter train making round-trip journeys between Solo and Yogyakarta, and in December it launched Batik Solo Trans, a city bus service.
The Solo administration, according to Bambang Susantono, the deputy transportation minister in Jakarta, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Yogyakarta on the use of Smart cards for travel on public transportation in both cities beginning next month.
“Starting this February the public will be able to use inner-city buses run by Batik Solo Trans and Trans Jogja, as well as the Prambanan Express Train, using a rechargeable Smart card,” Bambang said recently.
“These three modes of public transportation meet the commuting needs of the people traveling within cities and between different ones.
“The bus and train lines are all connected to Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport, and routes to Solo’s Adisumarmo International Airport will follow soon.
“This is the first-ever integrated transportation ticketing system in Indonesia. This is the beginning of a new chapter for Indonesian public transportation.”
Bambang said there would be three types of Smart cards: Regular Trip, Single Trip and Student Card. The Regular Trip card, he said, will be primarily for long-term users, the Single Trip card will be good for just one trip and the Student Card will offer discount prices for students.
Once a card is scanned at a bus stop or train station, the fare will be deducted from the prepaid card.
“Once the card is used up, passengers will be able to recharge it at a number of sales points at bus stops, stations, shops or banks,” Bambang said. “And for students in Solo and Yogya, the government will incorporate the Smart card with the students’ identity cards. That way they will learn from an early age to use public transportation rather than private vehicles.”
Love for Public Transport
According to data from the Yogyakarta Transportation Office, Trans Jogja buses carried about 6.5 million passengers last year, up from 5.1 million in 2009 and 3.6 million in 2008.
Since its launch in December, Batik Solo Trans has carried an av erage of 3,000 passengers a day.
“The commuter system has helped us tackle urban transportation problems, and even more so once the ticketing system is integrated,” Bambang said.
He said traffic congestion had become a major problem in large cities across the country, and that to address the issue, local administrations had to start developing integrated public transportation systems.
“Public transportation must be seen in its entirety — as part of overall urban economic development efforts,” he said.
Other cities expected to start using Smart cards this year, he said, are Semarang in Central Java, Pekanbaru in Riau, Palembang in South Sumatra, Manado in North Sulawesi and Gorontalo, the capital of Gorontalo province, on Sulawesi.
No More Toll Roads?
Solo Mayor Joko Widodo said on Friday that the best way to improve people’s lives was by cooperating with other regions, particularly to develop urban transportation systems.
“Rather than compete, I choose to integrate. For this reason, I welcome the excellent cooperation with Yogyakarta in integrating our transportation system,” he said.
“After this, we will invite Semarang to join us in a series of bus and train services.”
He added that if he were president, he would call for an immediate halt to all toll road construction in Java.
“Just imagine how many millions of hectares of rice fields owned by farmers are destroyed for the construction of toll roads? Also, on both sides of the toll roads, buildings and settlements emerge, adding to the destruction,” he said.
It would be better, he said, to revive the country’s railway system in cooperation with state railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia. He said the Prambanan Express Train could serve as an example for other cities.
The service had first served only Solo and Yogyakarta, Joko said, but had since been expanded and now reached as far as Sragen, near the East Java border.
In September 2009, Joko also revived the Sepur Kluthuk Jaladara, a century-old wood-fueled steam train that is chugging around Solo once again.
It is the only steam-powered train in daily use in the country, traveling for 5.6 kilometers on the same street, Jalan Slamet Riyadi, as public transportation, private vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. The train is, according to Joko, one of many reasons tourists come to Solo.
“Personally, I did not support the construction of the Solo-Semarang toll road, but I couldn’t stop it. I am just a mayor, not the president. I myself chose to revive the railway track,” he said.
Besides having started cooperating with other cities, he is now also busy reviving the entire railway network within the city limits, from Jalan Slamet Riyadi and turning south into Sukoharjo and Wonogiri, a district adjacent to Pacitan, East Java, the hometown of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“On February 17, coinciding with the 266th anniversary of the city of Solo, the integrated transportation ticketing system will be implemented, followed by the soft launch of the Railbus, a new transportation project in the city running on the railway track established by the Dutch East India Company,” Joko said.
“It is ready to serve the people inside the city and outside the city, all the way to Sukoharjo and Wonogiri.”
Herry Zudianto, the mayor of Yogyakarta, said the transportation problems his city was facing were a little more complicated than those in Solo.
People from all over the archipelago come to Yogyakarta for a variety of purposes — mostly for a college education, but also for leisure or business, he said.
“Most of the students ride motorcycles and this jams up city traffic,” he said.
“However, they do not really oppose the Trans Jogja bus system. And they just love the Prambanan Express Train. All they need is a little encouragement to opt for public transportation.”
Sigit Haryanto, Yogyakarta’s head of public transportation, said the integrated ticketing system would offer users greater convenience, mostly because payment was more practical and efficient than the current options. Things will go faster, he said, because there is no need to bring any cash or wait in line to buy a ticket at the station or on the bus.
“It will also increase accountability because the transfer of money between passengers and the transportation operators will be avoided,” he said.
According to Sigit, most people were reluctant to use public transportation simply because private vehicles were more convenient. “Loans to buy a new car or motorcycle are easy to get and relatively cheap, he said.
“So the integrated public transportation ticketing system is our answer to the automotive companies,” he explained.
“Faced with a growing number of private vehicles on the roads, we provide public transportation with good service to make people’s travels cheap, safe and comfortable.”