Share your car   The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 11/10/2007 5:29 PM

""Tiap hari macet sampai bengong. Mau cepet, nebeng dong,"" reads a motto introduced by a car pooling community on their website,

It simply means if you do not want to get stuck in traffic, carpool to reach your destination faster.

The commuters have learned how to deal with the daily traffic congestion plaguing Jakarta.

This kind of community initiative contradicts the hostile public reception to the Jakarta administration's construction of new corridors for its busway system.

For these road users, the traffic jams resulting from the project are no longer acceptable.

Members of the car pooling community, who live in housing complexes across Jakarta's satellite cities of Bekasi, Bogor, Depok and Tangerang, have given up driving their own cars because they know traffic congestion is a chronic problem that Jakarta will unlikely be able to solve even within the next decade.

The number of vehicles traveling on Jakarta's roads is growing at a geometrical rate, while the total length of roads is growing at numerical rate. The gap between the two continues to grow ever wider, leading transportation experts hired by former governor Sutiyoso to predict that if drastic measures were not taken Jakarta's roads would come to a complete standstill by 2014.

A study estimated financial losses from the daily traffic congestion at more than Rp 40 trillion per month, which includes wasted fuel and medical care for pollution-related illnesses.

That figure underlines the need for radical measures to cope with the traffic, but may also suggest that the busway project does more harm than good.

The fact is traffic on many roads, particularly at intersections, affected by busway construction has come to a near standstill, as the project slices one lane off the road. In other parts of the city, where congestion had previously been nearly absent, traffic has slowed as motorists seek alternative routes to avoid congestion.

It now takes, for example, a person living in Ciputat, Tangerang, an extra 90 minutes to reach his office near Slipi in West Jakarta because he has to go through the now heavily congested Pondok Indah arterial road, where busway corridor VIII is being built.

To add insult to injury, bad traffic congestion is stretching further into the night, leaving commuters even less time to spend at home with their families.

There have been no reports on whether the stress of traffic has resulted in a greater number of incidents of violence at home and in the office. But the constant coverage of worsening traffic congestion in Jakarta in the media clearly reflects a general frustration that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

The busway project, despite its noble objectives, has met with opposition from the outset. But new Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo has insisted the show must go on, knowing the project is part of the city's mass transportation system grand design, which also includes a subway and monorail.

President Susilo Bambang Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has added to the pressure on Fauzi to immediately resolve the traffic congestion resulting from the busway expansion project.

Fauzi has proposed several initiatives, which include stopping construction on some busway corridors and allowing vehicles to use the busway lanes on certain roads.

But whatever steps have been taken to cope with traffic jams, they clearly are not enough. The city administration is playing a zero-sum game, with easing the traffic on one road causing congestion on another.

Due to the gravity of the current situation, the community must take the initiative and deal with the problem themselves. Jakarta residents and those who work in the city cannot rely too much on Governor Fauzi, despite the fact that he has made solving traffic congestion one of his priority programs in his first 100 days in office.

Carpooling is a simple, easy and effective initiative to reduce the number of private cars traveling on Jakarta's roads, which is the objective of mass transportation system.

There are many other ways to help ease traffic in Jakarta, such as moving to bicycles as many people have tried.

At the end of the day, however, it is not about taking responsibility for making the Jakarta government's transportation policy a success. It is pure creativity to survive the maddening traffic congestion.

Sumber : The Jakarta Post

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