Welcoming the MRT

Jakarta finally now has its own MRT, something to celebrate after waiting for decades. Thousands of passengers have enjoyed the recent trial runs.

The first line, which links the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta, complements the capital’s Transjakarta bus service, the Commuter Line railway and other modes of public transportation in the capital, which is among the world’s most congested cities.

While we expect to see more smiles from commuters traveling on Sunday, after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially opens the MRT to the public, disappointment should also be expected as the inauguration is to proceed even as many supporting systems have not been completed.

As this went to press, the central government and the Jakarta administration had yet to reveal the MRT fares as city councillors had not made up their minds about the subsidy the administration would provide to ease the burden on commuters — a source of contention for some two decades since the MRT was conceived.   

Last week Jakarta councillors debated how to keep the fares for the MRT and light rapid transit (LRT) affordable for people from all walks of life. For now, Jakarta will have to pay a hefty subsidy to keep the fares between Rp 8,500 (56 US cents) and Rp 12,500 for the MRT and between Rp 5,000 and Rp 7,000 for the LRT.

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