Perhaps as a result of speculation over the final result of the run-off in the gubernatorial election for the City of Jakarta, the monorail has been attracting further discussion in the press.
However, the idea of using the columns now in place to support a busway bears little credibility and is arguably not one of the brightest ideas that has emerged. In the first place and most importantly, a busway system would only carry a fraction of the passenger traffic compared with a monorail. Further, the footprint of an elevated busway would be much more marked than the streamlined outline of a monorail.
Most recently the press is reporting a real drive to push ahead with some of the previous plans and, with street-level traffic continuing to climb in numbers and increase the strangulation of road travel, there is little choice but to look at elevated or underground forms of transport. Both will have their place in the future city.
Greater Jakarta, that is the core city and the satellite conurbations, now numbers some 26.5 million inhabitants, making it – by a small margin over other mega cities – the second largest city in the world, after Tokyo. The city, however, is underdeveloped in terms of tall buildings, whether for commercial or residential use.
It is no surprise to learn that the private sector will be investing heavily in this area, with a forecast of some 250 tall buildings in the center and near surrounds by 2025 compared with today’s relatively paltry number of 37. Over 200 new high rise structures are planned for the next dozen years, providing a huge investment opportunity for the private sector, which will add greatly to the recognisable wealth of the city.
This level of construction can also lead to serious problems, however, unless more attention is paid to the supporting water, energy and transportation infrastructure. At this juncture it is fair to say that insufficient forethought has been given to provide an orderly level of build-out in the years ahead.
Dealing with waste
Arguably the most important issue for future cities concerns how we deal with their water and sanitation needs, for which Jakarta has still quite a lot more work to do. For the expansion in tall buildings to take place, it is going to be essential that the technology available today for the recyling of all forms of used water is included in the design for building operations right from the start, never mind the retrofitting of buildings already in use.
This will be an essential contribution, along with much more efficient use of energy, including renewable sources, towards embracing the Green Bulding Code, now hopefully being taken more seriously.
The city still struggles to find a meaningful way in which its citizens can move around the city and its suburbs. Each year the situation gets worse as the rate of provision of transport infrastructure does not keep pace with demand. The addition of tall buildings will further exacerbate the problem.
As has been said before, the land area of the city available to the road system is not much more than half what is needed for a modern large city. It is also impossible to add to the existing amount because of the manner in which the city has developed. Decisions on road space would have had to have been made and acted on decades ago. Thus there is no option but for future city transport to either be supported in the air, through some form of elevated rail system, or by underground mass transit.
Jakarta has to grasp the nettle and start building elevated transport links all over the city’s key strategic routes. It is now at the point where providing more road space through elevated road sections would be much less effective than a modern form of rail system, which can carry significantly more passengers supported by suitable park-and-ride arrangements at suburban stations.
If care in planning is applied to the location and transport requirements of our future tall buildings then many of these can be startegically linked with a network of monorail routes, clean transport with minimal impact on the environment, and the stations and transport costs can be partly subsidized through the benefits accruing to the tall buildings hosting the stations.
It is not without some note that several other Indonesian cities are well into considering the application of monorail to alleviate their growing road vehicle congestion issues, and their problems, relatively speaking, are small compared with those faced in the capital city.
In summary, the city badly needs a comprehensive plan for the future that addresses the issues of better and more efficient use of water and its recycling; efficient energy demand, with judicial use of renewable sources; and strategic rail transport links.
These should be either elevated or underground, taking note of how the further buildings, particularly the forecast high rise ones, can neatly fit with the new transport links, reducing dependence on road transport. The old idea of the triple-decker had merit; elevated busways do not.