Palembang. A light rail transit system currently under construction in Palembang, South Sumatra, is set to be completed in June and fully operational by July.
The government will subsidize the initial fare, which has been set at Rp 5,000 (35 US cents) until December, to encourage the public to make use of the new mode of transportation built for this year's Asian Games.
The games, jointly hosted by Jakarta and Palembang, will start in August.
The 23-kilometer LRT will connect the city's Sultan Mahmud Badarudin International Airport II to Jakabaring Sport City, where the games will be held.
The Ministry of Transportation said fares will be reviewed after December.
"Initial ticket price is Rp 10,000 for the Palembang LRT, but the public must be aware that the price is Rp 5,000 after state subsidizes," Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said after an event in Palembang on Monday (12/02).
"We will conduct an operational test [for the LRT] in March," he added.
The government believes the subsidized fare is necessary to change the public's commuting habits, while also taking into account purchasing power in the region.
"The most important thing is that the LRT is used by the people, and the subsidy correlates with their purchasing power," said Zulfikri, director general of railways at the ministry.
Progress in the LRT construction project, which broke ground in 2016, currently stands at 86 percent, slightly behind schedule.
"There's a 2.9 percentage point deviation; that's a miss for this week," said Suranto, a project official.
The Palembang LRT system will have 13 stations, starting from Sultan Mahmud Badarudin International Airport II to its end point in Ogan Permata Indah in Banyuasin district.
Suranto said the delay was caused by road reconstruction, necessitated by the LRT project.
"There are 13 stations we have to build, with each having a typical construction model, but another issue is when we have to repair damage caused to the road by the construction process," he said.
"The road repairs are also our responsibility," he added.
However, Suranto said they would put pressure on the contractors to meet the June deadline.
"We're pushing contractors to not have any more delays, because the timeline deviation is quite significant. We're also worried that the project may not completed by June," he said.
The Palembang LRT will cost Rp 12.5 trillion, funded from the state budget.