Expect delays: world's-worst Jakarta traffic in gridlock for another decade

Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:22am EDT
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By Charlotte Greenfield

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Millions of Jakarta commuters will have to struggle through the world's most congested traffic for almost another decade, authorities believe, and they may have to wait even longer if $4 billion worth of new railway projects don't work out as planned.

Jakarta's gridlocked streets are the biggest headache for the Indonesian capital's 10 million residents and a major hindrance to economic growth, with workers stranded for hours in buses, cars and motorcycles each day.

Jakarta ranked top among 78 cities for traffic stops and starts in a study published this year by motor oil firm Castrol, with the average driver having to stop 33,240 times a year - more than twice the number in New York.

New York drivers also travel twice as fast as those in Jakarta, whose average speed is a mere 8.3 km per hour (5.2 mph).

Making matters worse, at least a thousand new cars and motorbikes are added to Jakarta's roads each day, government figures show.

"Congestion in Jakarta is already at an alarming level. In the not-too-distant future, the city will be paralyzed by traffic," said Budi Edi Praitno, a Jakarta commuter who traded his motorcycle for a bicycle to trim a few minutes from his 30-km (20-mile) commute, which still takes more than an hour.

There are hopes that a mass rapid transit (MRT) system, under construction and slated to open in 2018, will provide relief.

However, the MRT's President Director Dono Boestami said its impact would be limited initially. Instead, it will take a long checklist of initiatives, including the government's new plan to build a light rail train (LRT), to see any real change.   Continued...

Vehicles move past the construction of the new MRT line in central Jakarta March 19, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto.  REUTERS/Antara Foto/Wahyu Putro A