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Solutions for Traffic in Bandung

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MrShaw's picture
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Image by drburtoni via Flickr

So I spent another day sitting in a ridiculous traffic jam, with the heat of the day pretty much nullifying any effect the air conditioning of our car could produce, which is why I am driven to write this. Every weekend and school holiday the roads of Bandung are flooded with "Tourists" visiting for cooler air and bargains to buy.  This extra traffic can go as far as turning a normal 20 minute drive in to a 2 hour torture session.  I got to the point today whereby I had actually convinced myself that increase of heat due to the amount of traffic was tangible ...surely it's not?

The roads are Bandung are painful enough to travel without a massive increase in cars.  Added to the traffic is an increase of peddlers selling there wares by strolling up and down the roads, totally oblivious to the danger they are creating for themselves and others, an increase in frustration and erratic driving and roads been taking over buy Markets, vans and Warungs in the hope of increased sales.

"B Plate" drivers are in the habit or changing lanes at whim, in the hope of saving 3 seconds driving time, cutting up other cars, using the "hard shoulder" of the motorway as an overtaking lane and using the horn more than a 1960's "Soul Band".  This seems to be the norm in Jakarta as far as I can see, but it not approved by Bandung Drivers, as a rule.

Ini Maksudnya Apa, ya?

Image by Pedje via Flickr

I have long theorized about a system where by a tax could be imposed on the plethora of out of town drivers that seem to swarm to Bandung every time a weekend or holiday approaches.  My theory is to charge a minimum of 50,000 rupiah per car entering Bandung on a weekend and possibly more during school and public holidays as they seem to stay longer and increase the congestion during the working week.  This amount is likely to be a drop in the ocean of the typical shoppers spending budget.

In an ideal world this money would be used to improve roads, provide more parking spaces, ensure a larger police presence with a focus on enforcing the road rules and set-up a system with local transport companies to provide transport around the more popular areas. This would hopefully have the effect of pumping more money back into the local economy, as well as the retail outlets that are possibly owned by Jakartan and overseas businesses.

Bandung is an overcrowded city as it is, with the current one-system in place barely dealing with the amount of daily traffic, and that's before the weekly invasion of those with purchasing power.  Added to this is some roads that look as if they were last attended to before the Dutch landed, a Local Council who approved roadworks during the middle of the day near the city centre and a "car free" zone initiative which attracted a lot of cars and created more congestion than it solved due to not incorporating a public transport system to go with it and a fleet of Angkot drivers that far outweighsthe amount of customers.

If i was in charge I would enforce this tax immediately, and my first priority would be to change the whole traffic system in Bandung, perhaps going as far as reforming or totally removing the Angkot system, although this is likely to cause riots and providing motor cycle only lanes.  i would also want to find a way to increase a police presence that enforces the road rules, as I believe this would be a further money spinner, and in doing so reduce the amount of traffic and casualties due to accidents.

What would you do?  Do you think my system would work? What problems/advantages does it have?

Poll: Click here to vote on whether Bandung should tax out-of-town visitors.

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Nadnum's picture
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As a Bandung citizen and

As a Bandung citizen and motorist, any plan or attempt to improve the traffic is worthy of support because when the street is chock-a-block with cars, motorists can’t make use of the hard shoulder which lead some to use the pavement instead, which of course break the rule and make the traffic hideously crazy. And if you stick to the rule, you’ll end up breathing the exhaust fumes spewing from the mostly B-plate cars. That’s why many Bandung citizens choose to stay home on weekends as the city is invaded by Jakartans.
So charging a minimum of 50,000 rupiah for every B-plate car entering the city is a yes then for Bandung citizens, but not necessarily for the local government and factory outlet owners whose shops have created congestion along several main streets like Riau, Setiabudi and Dago. The local government has been touting Bandung not only as a great place for gastronomic adventure but also for shopping apparel products and cheap branded clothes. This has attracted Jakartans to crowd the city on weekends and spend some money which help drive the local economy. Imposing a minimum Rp. 50,000 tax for each car would decrease the number of Jakartans coming and that means a drop in retailer sales and local gov’s revenues. And it’s still a long way until the tax money can be used to improve roads and traffic system, and to provide transport to popular areas which can pump more money. Only if Pemda (the local gov) dares to take the risk that this regulation may be enacted. The same for the total removal of angkot, it will cause many people lose their jobs and thus create riots. The idea of reducing the number of angkot has long been proposed yet no action has been taken so far so the complete removal of angkot is possible if done step by step until a new transport system which is more efficient is ready to be used.
I think the only thing we can do now is to urge the local council and the city officials to address this problem before it’s getting worse and before their tenures expire without solving a single problem out of many faced by the city.Have a blast weekend, Mr. Shaw ;)

Ethan's picture
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Bandung Traffic

Bandung traffic is certainly pretty insane from what I saw from the short time I was there. Most of Indonesia experiences similiar overcrowding and anarchy on the roads but what really surprised me was that I didn't see more accidents. I believe the only real solution would be for the whole island of Java to follow the Singapore model but this would probably be very unpopular there. Its funny though how different traffic rules and laws can make such a big difference though. The country that impressed me the most was Bavaria in Germany which had excellent public transport and very well constructed and orderly roads, then you go a short distance to Italy and its anarchy again.

Anonymous (not verified)
Anonymous's picture
I agree Bandung traffic is

I agree Bandung traffic is awful and getting worse year on year. The rains haven't helped with many major routes practically disintigrating.
Creating a tax for out of town visitors? Hmmmmmm I'm not so sure- Bandung's not London and the congestion charges don't work there particularly well, equally the road restrictions in Jakarta don't help with tol roads and roads that must have x amount of passengers in the car.

My solution would be to make it more expensive to have a car full stop. In Europe I can't afford to run a car- I can buy one but I can't afford to keep it! Enforce car isurance, car tax, MOTs, increase the cost of petrol if you have to, up the parking fees. If car owners have to pay the extras then you might get a few people off the road.
Also stop the practice of 'buying' a licence so people actually have to pay for lessons/theory tests/driving tests; increase pentalites for drivers who undertake, use hard shoulders, ride bikes on the pavements, make illegal turns and give them a proper ticket instead of the option of paying a bribe to the officer who stops them.

Until all of this becomes regulated my advice is to just stay at home!

bulbul (not verified)
bulbul's picture
Horrendous Traffic

I've always felt that angkots are the root cause of more than 80% of all traffic tie-ups. Not just the sheer number of them, but the way they drive (trolling slowly, looking for passengers; stopping wherever and whenever they want; showing little regard for traffic laws). If they had angkot stops (the only places angkots would be able to stop), they would be going much faster between stops.
Of course many of the problems occur because of the complete lack of traffic law enforcement with regard to angkots. Have you ever seen an angkot pulled over by the police?
It also doesn't help that 95% of all Indonesian drivers on the roads (including angkot drivers, I assume) have never actually taken a driving test to get their license. It's no wonder that things are a bit chaotic out there.
Solutions? Well, a less corrupt police force, more knowledgeable drivers and the concept of 'right of way' would help. Oh, and the situation might change more quickly if the higher-ups--those in positions to make some changes--actually had to wait in traffic jams and weren't escorted through the messiness with sirens blaring...

Winston Smith's picture
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Right of way

I think the concept of 'right of way' would make a HUGE difference. I'm currently visiting the US, and just a-m-a-z-e-d at how everyone stops where they're supposed to, and yields right of way. You can zoom confidently down a street at full speed, knowing that any cars wishing to enter your street will yield.

MrShaw's picture
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Guess Bandung traffic is not so bad

This story is amazing, is this a world record for a the length of time and length of cars jammed?

Martin Scholes (not verified)
Martin Scholes's picture
This really should be a

This really should be a pressing matter, particularly, when you say that 'changing lanes form inexperienced drivers'.  This is such a major cause of <a href="http://www.hattonslaw.com/General/road-traffic-accidents">road accident claims</a>, and I'll assume that this place is inundated with such claims.  Various 'busier' cities have implemented there own versions to try and limit this problem.  Tolls to shuttle buses and greater awareness in terms of public transport are a few suggestions

grandaddyjames's picture
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Sorry, didn't read all

Sorry, didn't read all the above but having had enough money to be able to buy a 'driving license' in Bandung immediately removes me from the argument. Just go with the flow and buy a smaller car.

grandaddyjames's picture
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There's also the fact that it

There's also the fact that it depends entirely on who you're talking to and how much money you have in your wallet and can you ( should you leave for vehicle for any reason) walk straight. 

Which is doubtless what you were trying to (hic) say.