President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially inaugurated the country’s first MRT line in Jakarta on Sunday, calling on citizens to adapt to a new culture of mass transportation.
Jokowi, accompanied by his Cabinet ministers and dozens of VVIP guests, embarked from the MRT station to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, where he led the inauguration in a signing ceremony.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era as the first phase of MRT operations officially begins,” Jokowi said in his speech before hundreds of Jakartans during Car Free Day.
“The [MRT] is part of a new culture because this is a first in Indonesia.”
The first phase of the MRT Jakarta project covered the construction of 13 stations along a 15.7-kilometer route from Lebak Bulus Station in South Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.
Over the last 12 days, members of the public have flocked to the stations to enjoy the MRT’s trial run for free, which will run until next Sunday. The MRT will start commercial operations on April 1. The fares have yet to be set, with hearing sessions yet to take place at the Jakarta Council.
Jokowi himself twice joined the public on board trains during the MRT trial run this week.
The President called on the public to be responsible when using the MRT, avoid littering inside the train and in stations, wait in orderly lines and be punctual.
“Unless we are willing to adapt to a new culture, there will be no point in having the MRT,” Jokowi told reporters after the ceremony.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said that during the first month of commercial operations, the MRT would deploy eight trains from 5.30 am to 1030 pm. The number of trains will later be expanded to 16 and run from 5 am to 12 am.
“In the meantime, the MRT has been integrated with Transjakarta and, God willing, the service will soon be integrated with commuter lines and trains,” Anies said.
Sunday also marked the groundbreaking ceremony for the second phase of MRT Jakarta, which will span 7.8 kilometers, connecting the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Kota Station in West Jakarta. The project itself is expected to be completed by 2024.
The Jokowi administration is also keen on immediately beginning work on the West-East line of the MRT, which will connect Balaraja in Tangerang, Banten, to Cikarang in Bekasi, West Java.
“I have made an order for the construction of the West-East line to start this year,” Jokowi said.
The government is hoping to reduce traffic congestion in Greater Jakarta, which costs an estimated Rp 65 trillion (S$6 billion) in annual losses.
The administration’s overall plan is to create an integrated public transportation system that includes the MRT, the light rail transit (LRT) system, Transjakarta and the airport train.
The President said he expected commuters to gradually switch to riding the MRT and other public transportation means to get around Greater Jakarta, especially since more routes would be available in the future.
The government set a target to complete the integrated system within a period of 10 years. Jokowi said its total investment was Rp 571 trillion.