THE president of Indonesia, Mr Joko Widodo, officially opened the 42.1km Jabodebek LRT on August 28, a new light metro, which serves central Jakarta and the satellite cities of Depok and Bekasi in West Java province.

More than 28,000 passengers used the new line in its first two days of operation, including 23,705 on August 30. However, some early teething troubles resulted in the evacuation of the station in Bekasi on August 30 following a train failure. This was caused by a door problem.

The line runs for 9.9km from Dukuh Atas in the centre of Jakarta to Cawang, shortly after which it divides into a southern branch running to Harjamukti which is 14.6km long, and a 17.5km eastern branch to Jati Mulya. The line serves a total of 18 stations.

The operator is currently providing 158 daily services using a fleet of 12 six-car trains built by domestic manufacturer PT Inka each with capacity for up to 1300 passengers. Up to 31 trains will eventually be available to provide more than 400 daily services.

Widodo said during the inauguration ceremony at Cawang station in southern Jakarta that the project cost Rupiah 32.6 trillion ($US 2.6bn), considerably more than the Rupiah 20 trillion estimate when ground was broken in 2015. The owner of the line, Kereta Api Indonesia, received a direct cash injection from the government along with syndicated loans from mostly local banks to fund construction.

Widodo hopes the line will help to ease the traffic congestion crisis engulfing Jakarta. The city was recently found to be the world’s most polluted major city, according to an assessment by IQAir, Switzerland.

“We hope people will shift to LRT in droves ... so that we can avoid traffic congestion and reduce pollution,” Widodo said, as quoted by Nikkei Asia.

The news outlet added that Widodo says it will be difficult to attract commuters to use the service due to the line’s limited catchment area. This has also been the case with Jakarta’s first mass transit line, the 15.7km metro from Lebak Bulus to Bundaran HI in central Jakarta, which is used by 80,000 people per day. This is well short of its capacity for up to 180,000 passengers a day.

A 5.8km light metro, which is operated with two-car trains supplied by Hyundai Rotem, also opened in 2019, running from Velodrome to Kelapa Gading Mall in the northeast of the city.

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