Tackling Jakarta’s traffic woes

It’s the bane of the capital’s existence. Public-private engagement is the best way forward for Jakarta’s public transportation system.

Tackling Jakarta’s traffic woes Photo: Unsplash.com

In hopes of battling congestion, the Jakarta government constructed the TransJakarta bus rapid transit (BRT) system with special lanes, which is now the largest BRT in the world. Unfortunately, its occupancy is very low. With an average of 3,500 vehicles operating every day, the occupancy rate is only 35 percent, with the average number of passengers carried only 650.000 per day. The low number of passengers per day indicates the main goal of the BRT’s operations, which is to have travelers shift from their private vehicles to public transportation, was not achieved.

The evaluation implied that the low occupancy rate was caused by the limited route network and gaps in service between the BRT and feeder buses. To overcome the problem, Jakarta's government initiated a public transportation reform program named Jak Lingko. The program will change the individual and conventional operations of Jakarta’s feeder buses to become a public-private integrated join operation. It has three main integration objectives: management, route services and payment integration, and through these, the city will have better public transportation services. Unfortunately, there were some problems to start the program. The resistance to some extent is the most critical point for Jak Lingko’s implementation. This essay will describe the conflicts raised and its response to the Jak Lingko's initiative, discuss the early phase of Jak Lingko’s implementation, and mention the recent accomplishments and progress of providing better public transportation services in Jakarta with the collaboration of government and private-public transportation operators.

Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world. Its population is nearly 270 million. As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is home for more than 10 percent of the country’s population. In the Greater Jakarta region (which includes parts of West Java and Banten provinces, there are more than 20 million people while the capital itself is only 255 square miles, The number of people in the city increases on weekdays because Jakarta is also a center for business and commercial activities within the country, and people commute from neighboring provinces.

This enormous number of people creates a significant number of travel demands. According to the Jabodetabek Urban Transport Policy Integration surveys in 2018, the numbers of daily trips in Jakarta is around 107 million per day and only 12 percent was served by public transportation. The majority mode choices of people to fulfill their travel needs are motorcycle and cars. This has led to dreadful traffic congestion.

As noted above, Jakarta experiences severe traffic-related problems associated with the exponential growth in traffic activity. This situation compelled the government to implement a package of regulations to tackle the problem. The Transportation Master Plan was unveiled in 2007; the regulations described in the package of policies to relieve the traffic in Jakarta consist of three main programs: public transport development via the BRT network, traffic restraint and network capacity improvement.

However, due to limitations on implementing the transportation master plan policy, private cars and motorcycles are not going away any time soon. Jakarta is still facing a major challenge in how to manage a massive number of private vehicles and how to integrate public transportation mode into a comprehensive urban transit system. Eventually, in a critical time of traffic gridlock, the Jakarta government initiated the transportation integration program Jak Lingko. This program aims to integrate and improve public transportation services within the city.


The Jak Lingko program is one of the innovative programs designed by the government to enhance public transportation services. This program will bring a major to in Jakarta’s transportation performance. Nonetheless, the implementation of the program was facing rejection from the existing public transportation operators. The rejection of the program arises when the government starts to socialize the scheme and business model of the program. Mislead communications and a strong stigma about public transportation operators are to blame.

The Jakarta administration manages various ways of communication to gain support from public transport operators. To portray the situation, this essay will describe earlier Jak Lingko’s implementation and will answer the following: 1. What is the Jak Lingko system and what is the background of its implementation? 2. What is the main problem with Jak Lingko’s implementation? How is the Jakarta government handling it? 3. What is the impact of the Jak Lingko program at the moment?


This essay uses a mixed-method between finding data/fact, observation, experience learned and literature analysis to get the conclusions and answer the above questions. We will be describing the Jak Lingko program using the qualitative method and will observe the stories, milestones, process and key factors in a case study analysis form.

As mentioned by Guba and Lincoln (1981), case study types will be factual, interpretative and evaluative. On the other hand, Stake (1995) acknowledged an approach to writing a case study by doing necessary steps for completing the case method, including posing research questions, gathering data, data analysis and interpretation. Therefore, by using a case study method, this essay will be factual and clear to describe the topic and attain the research objectives.

To elaborate on the process of implementing Jak Lingko, the author also gathers secondary data taken from the authority, which mostly comes from the Jakarta Transportation Authority under the Jakarta provincial government, and a small part of it will be taken from TransJakarta.


When states or nations adopt new policies, their decision to adopt can be influenced not only by internal factors but also by external factors, a process often referred to as policy diffusion (Simmons et al, 2006; Braun and Gillard, 2006; Graham et al, 2013).

In 2004, the Jakarta government started TransJakarta, which at its earlier operation operated only one corridor (eight miles), but now it has 13 corridors with 143 miles. It is the longest BRT system in the world. However, the number of passengers remains low. While the Jakarta administrator targeted TransJakarta to transports a million passengers per day, only around 650.000 passengers use it daily. The evaluation showed that the TransJakarta operation needs to have a backup for their feeder services. The routes operate only in the trunk and primary lane, while the travel needs stretching from its first miles (home-based) to last miles (destination). Therefore, the administration designs Jak Lingko as an integrated transportation system that will connect all of the transportation modes from housing complex feeder (first miles) to the activity center/business district (last miles). Jak Lingko can also be defined as the Jakarta transportation network; the term "link" was taken from a farm irrigation system used in Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara province. The system resembles a spider’s web with an interconnection of water flow. This will be representing the transportation network, which will be fully connected and integrated.

The Jakarta government launched the Jak Lingko program in October 2018, which replaced the former Ok Otrip program. The program has an objective to integrate all public transportation to be operated under contract to TransJakarta in term of its payment system, management and services network.

To integrate the operations of its public transportation, the Jakarta administration needs to change its conventional form of public transportation operation and management, especially for the small and medium-sized buses, to a collaborative engagement between the government and private sector (transportation operators). In this case, the responsibilities are divided between both parties to provide better public transportation services. This share-out responsibility is known as the “buy the service” system, which has applied in a contract between the Jakarta municipal government and public transportation operators. As Sutomo (2002) mentioned that “buy the service” is a system in which the government buys a public transportation service and sells it to the public at a particular fare. This system transfers the risk of an operational surplus or deficit from the operators to the government and guarantees the quality and the quantity of services, as well as good control and high flexibility of service to the community.

In the conventional management of public transportation, public transportation operators cannot access the government budget allocation (subsidy) and provide poor services to passengers. At the same time, the subsidy cannot reach the majority user because most of the routes are serviced by public transportation operators.

On the other hand, in the Jak Lingko system, operators will be paid by the government under the “buy the service” scheme, according to the miles production in serving the transportation routes. The operations of public transportation are conducting under the minimum service standard that has been set by the Jakarta governor. By this program, the operators can provide their services better because there is no point in cost deficit and can afford the requirement of maintenance and operational needs. Besides that, the driver will be paid monthly with proper wages to trigger enhanced services.

Nevertheless, as the city administration attempts to implement Jak Lingko, several public transportation operators, especially the 11 small buses operators (Komilet, Kopamilet; KWK; Komika; PT Lestari Surya Dharma; Purimas; Kolamas; Budi Luhur; Kajang Jaya; Koperasi Puskopau; and PT Kencana Sakti Transport) refused to integrate with TransJakarta because of contract content and route permit concerns.

The contract-based operation shocked and confused operators. They tended to assume the integration would ruin their business. The main issues brought by the operators were: (a). the integration concept offered by Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to the existing operators is burdensome; (b). the operators believed that a routes permit was fully owned by them, therefore the reform scheme which set in a contractual based would make them lose it, (c). the rupiah per miles price unit offered by the government was not attractive. To overcome resistance, the government conducted several trials and negotiations to gain the operators’ support.

The negotiation process to externalize collaborative management in public transportation services and redefine the program, to a business model and benefits package for the operators. As Elder and Cobb (1984) cogently observed, because “policy problems are not priori givens but rather are matters of definition […] what is at issue in the agenda-building process is not just which problems will be considered but how those problems will be defined.” Hence, the issue of definition is a logical starting point for the policymaking process; and if diffusion does occur, we should expect to see it in the form of prior adoptions predicting how issues are defined (Elder and Cobb, 1984).

Therefore, the Jakarta government proceeded with massive communication and a campaign held by the Public Communication Department under the Jakarta Communication, Information and Statistics Agency. In parallel, the negotiation process between the small bus operators and the government was held in many different forms, including brainstorming discussions, a meeting with the governor, focus group discussions with an expert facilitator, case study and a benchmarking visit to South Korea. Besides a basic package on the contract, the government also offered other advantages to the operators and drivers such as managerial training, cash flow training, driver training and some of the privilege for the driver's children to be prioritized to enter a public school and a school fund. These advantages and benefits formulated to attract operators to join the Jak Lingko program.

The special approaches above gradually changed the operators’ perspective and a deal was finally struck. To date, the city administration has succeeded in cooperating with all of the small bus operators. The new scheme on operating public transportation in the city was started, with a target to eliminate the conventional operation of public transportation; all public transportation will be based on the contract with the government and will be paid via the rupiah per mile scheme. So, it will be easier for the government to manage the routes, the supply and the operation of road-based transportation in the city.

In October 2018, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed and marked as a new beginning of public transportation reform in Jakarta. The communications, campaign, and package of advantages and benefits are changing the operators’ perspective on the Jak Lingko program. Subsequently, the operators started to provide the services with a minimum service standard based on their contract with the government. The integration process under the Jak Lingko program will progressively occur and is targeted to be finished in 2021. Recently, according to the data from the Jakarta Transportation Authority, around one-third of the existing public transportation operators have joined the program. There are 69 routes and 1,845 buses operated for the small buses only the ones that strongly rejected the program the first time.

By implementing the Jak Lingko program, Jakarta’s administration aims to integrate 60 percent of the route network in the capital by 2019 and 100 percent in this year. The fully integrated public transportation services also tend to increase the number of users. It is targeted that 60 percent of commuters will use public transportation by 2030.


Jak Lingko is the policy designed by Jakarta’s government to overcome poor public transportation services, to reduce traffic jams. The main idea is integrated management based on a contract between the Jakarta municipal government, which is represented by TransJakarta and public transport operators.

Even though the policy faced rejection by the public transport operators at the beginning, the Jakarta administration succeeded in handling negotiations using a three-steps strategy: a). hold much communication to clear up the program, including a study visit to Seoul to look closely at the before and after of transportation reform. Therefore, all of the stakeholders have a clear view toward it; b). recalculate and reformulate the rupiah per mile scheme and cost structure with the operators; c). compose an attractive package of benefits to entice the operators and drivers; d). involvement of the whole level in the city administration (including the governor himself) to discuss with the operators before signing a MoU and convince them to accept the program.

On the other hand, the program was appraised to have a benefit for the operators and drivers; the owner will get paid based on the operational miles, which cover all of the expenses. The drivers will no longer worried about the rent cost of the buses or the gasoline. They will have a monthly salary and will have a health and life insurance as a worker, the children of the drivers will have priority to enter public school and will be given with student fund.

Furthermore, the earlier evaluation of the current progress of the bus reform policy is satisfying both users and operators, and all of them are eager to continue the bus reform policy until everything is fully integrated, which is targeted to occur in 2021.

Fajar Nugrahaini is head of section of road-based public transportation at the Jakarta Transportation Authority.

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