Thursday, December 27, 2012

disentangling Jakarta's traffic congestion

As published in IPA Voices

Traffic congestion has been the biggest problem faced by Jakarta for decades. From 2004 to 2010, number of vehicles in Jakarta grew at 12 percent annually, while road length only grew at 0.01 percent [i]. Out of 20.9 million daily trips within Greater Jakarta, 34 percent of them are made by private vehicles, the highest such share among cities of comparable size (see Figure 1). The average time commuters spent on the street has also increased significantly. A trip from my house at the western tip of Jakarta to the National Monument in Central Jakarta, which used to take me around 45 minutes in 2005, now takes around 75 minutes.

Private Vehicles
Public Transports
Jakarta, 2010
Tokyo, 2009
Mumbai, 2011
Shanghai, 2011
Beijing, 2011
New York, 2009
Delhi, 2011
Seoul, 2010
Figure 1. Distribution of modal share in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek) and other cities of comparable size. Source: Reference Materials for Governor of DKI Jakarta, Jakarta Transportation Agency (Dishub Jakarta), Dec 2010.

One possible way to cope with increasing traffic congestion in Jakarta is to significantly increase the road (to total area) ratio [ii]. The previous administration has approved a proposal to build new toll roads in Jakarta’s downtown which will add 0.3 percent to the current ratio of 6.26 percent. The completion of these roads will ease traffic on several heavily-used roads that run in parallel with the planned toll roads. However, such move will only encourage people to drive private vehicles and will further exacerbate traffic congestion in areas that become the destination of most commuters, such as Sudirman and Kuningan.
Another possible solution is to reduce the number of vehicles on the street. This is the aim of the new provincial government led by Joko Widodo when they expressed their plans to implement odd-evens car restriction policy [iii], Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme, as well as other policies to increase economic disincentives of driving private vehicles in Jakarta. This policy might be successful in forcingsome people to use public transports. However, without a change on the way people think about using public transports over private vehicles, creative Indonesians might find a way to circumvent the regulation and thus enabling them to drive their private vehicles without much restriction or incurring any extra costs. This is exactly what happened with the existing “3-in-1” scheme [iv]. Any cars are now able to enter “3-in-1” restricted roads by hiring “jockeys” [v] to meet the requirement of having at least 3 passengers inside the car.
Traffic congestion is more complex than just the number of vehicles and road length. Playing around with these two variables will not solve the problem. The solution is to reduce the number of vehicles on the street by making people voluntarily willing to switch to public transports. This is only possible when there is a shift on the way people look at public transports. For this paradigm shift to happen there must be both push and pull factors. The push factor would be the economic disincentives of driving private vehicles on the streets of Jakarta. The pull factor would be the convenient, reliable, affordable, and well integrated public transports.

The Push Factor
Disincentive policies must be pursued progressively, starting from the most lenient policy adapted to the current state of public transports in Jakarta. ERP would be a good choice to start with. For ERP to work, the government should define a restricted zone. Restricted zone should initially be limited to roads with sufficient access to public transports. Roads served by TransJakarta Busway Corridor 1 would be the best candidate [vi]. ERP could then be activated on these roads. The size of restricted zone could then be increased gradually in the future to include roads with improved access to public transports.
Parking rate for lots within the restricted zone should then be increased steadily. To complement this policy, government should introduce a park-and-ride scheme. Subscription to this scheme will allow drivers to park their vehicles in designated parking lots near major transport interchanges (located before entering the restricted zone) at a significantly lower rate and to transfer to public transports. Therefore, if a driver chooses to drive his or her car into the restricted zone, he or she will incur an ERP toll as well as higher parking rate. It would then be more beneficial for him or her to leave the car in a designated park-and-ride parking lot and then transfer to public transports.
Stronger policies such as limiting age of vehicles registered in Jakarta, imposing more taxes such as road taxes or higher value-added taxes to Jakarta-registered vehicles, or even removing completely fuel subsidy for private vehicles in Jakarta, could be mulled over once public transports met the required standard. By then, as rational beings, Jakartans would see that it is economically more beneficial for them to take public transports rather than using their own vehicles. Hence, the number of private vehicles on the street would be reduced and traffic congestion is going to be a problem of the past.

The Pull Factor 
Jakarta’s public transports must be convenient, reliable, affordable, and well integrated.  Capacity improvement should also be the top priority. Public transports should cover at least half of total daily trips made in 2020 within Greater Jakarta, in order to reduce traffic by 30 to 40 percent [vii].
First of all, there is a pressing need to build mass rapid transit (MRT) networks in Jakarta. MRT has the highest passenger-carrying capacity per line which makes it suitable for Jakarta. The planned 2 MRT lines would be able to carry around 1.9 million passengers each day by 2018 [viii]. MRT network should also be expanded to cover other heavily trafficked areas such as Palmerah, Kuningan, Matraman, and Kemayoran.
Secondly, existing public buses [ix] must be revamped in order to improve quality of service and reduce congestions caused by them. Buses armada must be rejuvenated with newer and air-conditioned units. Bus frequency must also be regularized and enforcement must be made to ensure buses stop only at designated bus stops. Public bus drivers should then be compensated with fixed wages. Currently, most are paid in commissions taken as a percentage of income that they get from passengers every day. Therefore, the more passengers they have, the more commissions they could keep. This has led them to stop on roadsides waiting for their buses to be full, eventually leading to serious congestion. Such a fixed compensation will obviate the need to wait for more passengers to board the bus and might eventually reduce congestion.
In addition, TransJakarta Busway should be improved so that each corridor could serve at least 10,000 passengers hourly. The average number of passengers per corridor hourly in 2011 was only 1,850 [x], way below similar system in Curitiba, which is able to transport 10,000 passengers hourly, and Bogota, with 35,000 passengers hourly [xi]. In order to reach this capacity, bus frequency must be increased and average boarding time reduced. This could be achieved by introducing more 2-door and articulated buses, which have more capacity and allow shorter boarding time. Inevitably, waiting time is reduced and bus stops will be less crowded, making TransJakarta a more convenient and attractive choice.
Furthermore, the efficiency of existing commuter railway, KRL Jabodetabek, must be significantly increased. In 2010, KRL Jabodetabek had carrying capacity of only 407,550 passengers daily [xii]. As a transportation backbone between Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, and Jakarta, KRL Jabodetabekshould have its capacity increased to at least 2 million passengers daily. This will cover half of the trips made between these regions and Jakarta (see Figure 2).  To reach this capacity, headway must be reduced to below 5 minutes by increasing train frequency, modernizing signaling systems, and reducing the number of level crossing. 

Total trips, daily
Within Jakarta
From and to Tangerang
From and to Serpong
From and to Bogor, Depok, and Cileungsi
From and to Bekasi
Figure 2. Number of trips from and to Jakarta, as as well as within Jakarta, 2010 Figures. Source: Reference Materials for Governor of DKI Jakarta, Jakarta Transportation Agency (Dishub Jakarta), Dec 2010.

Finally, all these efforts would not be effective if all systems are not well integrated with each other.KRL Jabodetabek should be integrated with TransJakarta Busway and MRT system to allow seamless transfer between them. Designated park-and-ride parking lots must be well placed near major interchanges as well. Integration should also include integrated fare and ticketing across all systems. Non-integrated public transport systems will cause inconvenience, increased travel time, and eventually lead to decrease of ridership.

The Hurdles 
However there are several hurdles waiting to be overcome. The biggest one might come from car industry which has most profited from the fast vehicles growth in Jakarta. They might have a strong lobbying power with the government and potentially thwart any efforts to introduce ERP, build MRT, and impose more disincentives on private vehicles. The byzantine Indonesian bureaucracy and uncertain regulations have further worsened the condition. The first study for Jakarta MRT was started in 1995, but it has not made any progress only until recently. Another challenge is in setting fare which is affordable and able to cover at least the operational costs of service providers. Therefore, the new public transports system will not only attract private vehicle owners, but also retain their current users: Jakarta’s poorest. If we could overcome these hurdles, Jakarta would be a better city: its public transports are thriving, its air is cleaner, and it would be more pleasant to walk and cycle on Jakarta’s street.

[i] Jakarta in Figures 2011, Statistics of DKI Jakarta Province (BPS Provinsi DKI Jakarta), 2011.
[ii] Jakarta’s road to total area ratio is only 6.26%, much lower than Tokyo (22%) and Singapore (12%).
[iii] This policy will limit the number of cars on the street by car’s license plate number, similar with the policy implemented in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics. All vehicles with plate number ending in an odd number will only be allowed to enter restricted areas every other day. On days when odd numbered license plates are allowed, vehicles with license plates ending in an even number are prohibited. Exemptions are given for ambulances, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles.
[iv] Roads under the “3-in-1” traffic management scheme are restricted to cars with less than 3 passengers in it.
[v] “Jockey” is an extra passenger paid to allow the car to enter 3-in-1 restricted area.
[vi] These roads are: Jl Sisingamangaraja, Jl Jend Sudirman, Jl MH Thamrin, Jl Medan Merdeka Barat, Jl Majapahit, Jl Gajah Mada, Jl Hayam Wuruk, and Jl Pintu Besar Selatan.
[vii] Heru Sutomo, Jakarta Urban Transport Policy: Racing with Fast Motorization, Centre for Transportation and Logistics Studies (PUSTRAL) Gadjah Mada University, 2010, p7.
[viii] Ex-ante Evaluation for the Construction of Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit Project (I), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), 2009.
[ix] Public buses include not only large bus, but also Metromini, Kopaja, and minibuses such as Mikrolet.
[x] Jakarta in Figures 2011, Statistics of DKI Jakarta Province (BPS Provinsi DKI Jakarta), 2011.
[xi] Making TransJakarta Busway a World Class BRT System, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), November 2007, p4.
[xii] Jakarta in Figures 2011, Statistics of DKI Jakarta Province (BPS Provinsi DKI Jakarta), 2011.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

being virtuous

In my last post, I talked about "a virtuous education" and forgetting to explain one of the most important point which is what is this "virtue." I had been thinking about this one big question between the relation of virtue and faith, and had it discussed with some friends as well. I prefer to use the word "faith" here rather than just simply "religion" because people could have a religion without really having a faith in God. Religion is just the identity and faith is the essence. Well if one ask what faith is, I just take this description written in Hebrew 11:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." -- Hebrew 11: 1-3

It is certain that a real faith will produce virtue. However does that mean no faith will produce no virtue as well? It depends on how do we see this "virtue." People such as Confucius has been frequently called one of the virtuous man ever alive on earth. Indeed his teaching is really wonderful and many of them is parallel with what the Bible teaches us. There are virtues in which individual could attain without any need in having a faith in God, however there are also virtues which God bestowed on those who believe in Him.

Many of us may have heard about what is called the four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. By being prudent, one is able to take a proper decision and to think out what one's is doing and what is likely to come of that action. By being temperate, one is able to control himself, going the right length and no further, in drinking and in all other pleasures. By being just, one is able to take a proper moderation between self-interest and the rights and needs of others, it includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, and so on. By being fortitudinous, one is able to confront fears and face dangers. 

Beyond these four cardinal virtues, there are yet other virtues which are argued to be attainable through faith. The first is "charity," in which the current word has already lost its original meaning. "Charity" in this sense is love, it's not just the emotion, it's also not the feeling, but "that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves and must learn to have about other people" as CS Lewis put it. Loving ourself is easy, of course everyone by their nature or "instinct" will love themselves. Loving others as we are, and even loving our enemies, are we able to do that without God who enables us? Confucius said, "what you do not want others to do to you, do not do to others," but Jesus said do to others as what you want others do in you.

The second is "hope". The view of the eternal soul brings hope for our current short life here in earth. Our faith on Jesus and His promise give us an assurance of the eternal world to come and everything that we are doing here on earth is not in vain. We do not live merely just for instant pleasures, hedonism, or materialism; we do not live as in everything will end when our life here on earth ends! We know what we are here for, we know what we are called for, and we have hope to return back to our Father in Heaven.

The third is "faith," yes faith in itself is a virtue. In his work titled "Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments," Søren Kierkegaard wrote this beautiful remark about his faith:

"If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy fathoms of water still preserving my faith."

CS Lewis in his book, "Mere Christianity," also wrote several interesting points of faith as a virtue. The summary of which you can find it here, and scroll to the last point.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

on a virtuous education

I would like to share my personal view towards education, which has over time becoming a personal vision as well. I strongly believe in the importance of education, not only to shape the intelligence of the pupil, furthermore education has the role of shaping one's moral virtue and world view, which make it very important in one's character formation.

The current trend which is emerging is the idea of secular education which put away all kind of faith or believes in any religion from the education system. As opposed to this idea, there is religious education in which faith becomes the center that shape the moral and intellectual of the pupil.

In the United States, education is moving towards the direction of secularism. Some surveys on several US Supreme Court cases which is related with this trend and with regards to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"):
  • Limitation on government-directed prayer and / or bible reading in public school: Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962) which deemed unconstitutional the New York Board of Regents nondenominational school prayer; Abington Township School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) which ruled as unconstitutional the practice of reading ten verses from the Bible and reciting in unison the Lord's prayer at the beginning of each day; Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980) which ruled unconstitutional the Kentucky statute requiring the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments, purchased with private contributions, on the wall of each public classroom in the State; Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985) which deemed unconstitutional the Alabama statute which authorizing a 1-minute period of silence in all public schools "for meditation or voluntary prayer;" Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992); Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000) which ruled unconstitutional the policy permitting student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games; Newdow v. United States Congress, Elk Grove Unified School District, et al., 542 U.S. 1 (2004) ruled  that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States are an endorsement of religion, and therefore unconstitutional.
  • Limitation of the use of public funds for religious related educational activity: Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002) which ruled constitutional the use of publicly funded vouchers by parents in Cleveland to send their children to private and religious schools. However, Justice Stevens in his dissent argued that this ruling "allowed public funds to pay for the indoctrination of thousands of grammar school children in particular religious faiths;" Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004) which ruled the constitutionality of Washington publicly funded scholarship program which excluded students pursuing a "degree in theology."

Justice Hugo Black in the proceeding of the ruling of Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947) which resulted in the incorporation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment against the states stressed the importance of this clause to protect the separation between Church and State:

"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.'" -- 330 U.S. 1, 15-16.

Well, that's a brief overview about recent trend in the United States. In Indonesia, the condition perhaps is a bit different. The Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (Undang-Undang Dasar 1945) defends that education shall develop one's potential to gain spiritual maturity and develop one's faith (below, emphasize added):

Chapter XIII - Article 31
  1. Every citizen has the right to receive education.
  2. Every citizen has the obligation to undertake basic education, and the government has the obligation to fund this.
  3. The government shall manage and organize one system of national education, which shall increase the level of spiritual belief, devoutness and moral character in the context of developing the life of the nation and shall be regulated by law.
  4. The state shall prioritize the budget for education to a minimum of 20% of the State Budget and of the Regional Budgets to fulfill the needs of implementation of national education.
  5. The government shall advance science and technology with the highest respect for religious values and national unity for the advancement of civilization and prosperity of humankind.

With regards to this, I have a strong believe that faith in God and education is inseparable. When society cannot draw moral meaning and direction from religious belief, it draws it from other sources, and what are the other sources? Secularism, which provides new sources of meaning including self-esteem, consumerism, materialism, feminism, and relativism.

Benjamin Rush, one of the founding father of the United States, in his letter argued that "the only foundation for useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion," and he further added that, "without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."

Northwest Ordinance 1787 which in effect create the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States ordered that "religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the mean of education shall forever be encouraged."

It is thus the purpose of education, to make children faithful and virtuous, and this will form them into a good and responsible citizen, able to use their intelligence responsibly upon the right moral foundation. The true virtue is thus the fruits of one's faith on God, and a virtue without faith is as meaningless as a guitar without its strings. The idea of truly non-religious education, for me, is simply unimaginable.