Bayu Marhaenjati & Lenny Tristia Tambun
The TransJakarta bus system was heralded as the first step in a much needed mass transit system in the clogged capital. But TransJakarta buses have been involved in dozens of accidents over the last few years, highlighting the need for higher barriers between bus lanes and traffic, and better infrastructure on the streets.
At present, a small, 10 centimeter concrete divide partitions the TransJakarta lane from the rest of traffic. After a pedestrian was hit by a bus in July (and the TransJakarta bus was subsequently vandalized by an angry mob), officials announced plans to install 30 centimeter-high barriers.
But after the most recent accident on Monday, when 24-year-old Ahmad Rizky and 23-year-old Angga Hermanto died shortly after being hit by a TransJakarta bus near the Pesing overpass, Police and the Jakarta Transportation Agency are calling for 50 centimeter-high barriers.
“We hope raising the separator can effectively reduce the number of accidents on the busway lanes,” Head of Jakarta Traffic Engineering Bernard Hutajulu told BeritaSatu.com on Monday. “It is expected to sterilize the busway lanes as people will find it difficult to cross, and motorcycles can not cross the separators. Therefore, we will make it 50 centimeters.”
Thirty-six people have died in bus related accidents over the last three years. Most accidents occur when vehicles cross the modest barrier to escape traffic jams, according to officials.
The tender for the new rubber-made separator project has recently been settled, with work on the new barriers expected to start in September and to be completed by December.
The projects will be carried out in five busway corridors which authorities say are prone to accidents: Harmoni-Pulogadung, Kalideres-Pasar Baru, Pulogadung-Dukuh Atas, Kampung Melayu-Ancol and Lebak Bulus-Harmoni. Bernard said six other corridors would be proposes in next years budget.
The budget for the project is some Rp 22.5 billion (about $2.4 million).
TransJakarta General Affairs head M. Akbar said officials have made every effort to reduce the number of accidents, including special training for drivers, as well as assigning dozens of officers on the street to prevent private vehicles from entering the bus lane.
“The high number of vehicles that cross into the busway lane has been the main cause of accidents between TransJakarta bus and motorcycles,” Akbar said. “Therefore, our only hope is that a busway separator elevation project should be done soon.”
Officials have also proposed upgrading Jakarta’s pedestrian crossings and street lights, though few people have addressed the issue of pedestrians jaywalking, or crossing the street illegally.