Jakarta. The Jakarta provincial government and the city council agreed on a progressive ticket price for the capital's brand-new mass rapid transportation system on Tuesday, ending months of deliberation aimed at striking a balance between affordability for users and an acceptable level of subsidy by the administration.
A trip on the entire 16-kilometer route of the Jakarta MRT, from Lebak Bulus to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, will amount to Rp 14,000 ($1), which is less than half the cost of using one of the city's ubiquitous online motorcycle taxis over the same distance.
A fixed fare of Rp 3,000 will apply for entering the MRT system and this will increase by Rp 1,000 for every station a passenger passes, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan explained.
"I am very grateful that the council speaker could agree on this so soon. Today, the people of Jakarta have been given certainty," Anies said, referring to Jakarta Legislative Council Speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi.
The provincial administration and the city council have been involved in a lengthy process of negotiations to set ticket prices, seeking a level that would encourage people to use the service, without blowing the city's budget.
Based on the announced price, the administration will provide a subsidy of Rp 23,159 per passenger on average. The council assumes that it will cost Jakarta Rp 1.5 billion to subsidize about 65,000 MRT passengers every day.
Recent estimates showed Jakarta residents spend up to third of their monthly incomes on transportation, based on the average worker in the capital earning about Rp 400,000 per day, according to research by Seattle-based big-data company PayScale. Poor transportation infrastructure in the city often necessitates commuters to alternate between private vehicles and public transportation.
The MRT is designed to complement and connect to the existing KRL Commuterline suburban rail network and the TransJakarta busway, which transports about 663,000 people per day and charges a flat rate of Rp 3,500, regardless of distance.
Trips on the Jakarta MRT, which was inaugurated by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Sunday, will be free until April 1, when the ticket price comes into effect.
The MRT has become a sensation among Jakartans, who have been arriving in droves to ride it during trial operations over the past two weeks. Social media posts show some passengers hanging onto the railings in the cars, while others lay out mats and have picnics inside stations.
But transportation observer Darmaningtyas said it was a natural phenomenon due to temporary enthusiasm. He added that steps by the MRT operator to enforce public order will soon change passenger behavior.
"Later, the MRT operator must apply standards that apply internationally. For example, we cannot bring certain stuff, including food and drinks, inside the cars," he said.