Indonesian cities get $23M grant for public transport

Five cities in Indonesia – Bandung in West Java, Batam in Riau Islands, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Pekanbaru in Riau and Semarang in Central Java – will receive grants of €21 million ($23.1 million) from the governments of Germany, Switzerland and the UK to develop Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services in the cities.

The five cities have been selected by the Indonesian government as pilot cities to develop public transportation called Sutri Nama (Sustainable Urban Transport Programme Indonesia) and Indobus (Indonesian Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Development).


“The programme will be carried out in line with our commitment to reduce the use of personal vehicles, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air pollution caused by transportation,” said the Transportation Ministry’s land transportation director Budi Setyadi during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the ministry and the five regional governments on the joint pilot projects in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The Sutri Nama and Indobus projects were introduced in 2017 after the Transportation Ministry signed an initial agreement with German development cooperation agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which bridges the Indonesian government and the grant providers.

The projects are intended to develop a more environmentally friendly public transportation system and support development of the BRT as well as BRT line and corridor procurement.

“Basically, in the project, we finance people, we finance activities, and that is to design the BRT system in these five cities. So, all the preparation, all the feasibility is supported by our funds,” said Remy Duiven, the counsellor and the head of the Swiss Cooperation Office from the embassy of Switzerland in Jakarta.

However, the project will take some time, as around two years are needed to conduct the pre-feasibility study (PFS), conduct a reality check on several prospective pilot cities as well as select five pilot cities among 25 cities across Indonesia.

After the signing of the MoU, Budi promised the projects would step into more tangible works involving the regional government in each pilot city such as preparing the detailed engineering design (DED) and making a master plan for each city.


“I will ask each regional government to deliver their presentation. The regional governments need to give their plan on whether they will need a specialised bus line for the transportation system and how many corridors they need for this project,” said Budi.

GIZ’s senior governance policy adviser Zulasmi said that in 2019 the project would be focused on conducting further feasibility studies in each city, while in 2021 it would be focused on construction. The BRT services are expected to be available by 2022.

“The €21 million mostly will be used for conducting studies such as on how to make the BRT systems. But there are also funds allocated to infrastructure, such as constructing the bus lines,” he said.

While the grant will finance the bus lines and corridor construction, the bus procurement will be financed by the Indonesian government.

Zulasmi also said the project faced challenges at the regional level as local governments had been overwhelmed by rearranging the existing crowded routes.

“It is not as simple as it looks. For example, making new bus lines is a challenging task if the existing routes in the city are already crowded, and carrying out land procurement and route diversion is also not that easy,” said Zulasmi, adding that commitment from the regional governments to speed up the project was essential.

West Java governor Ridwan Kamil said intervention from the central government in developing an inner-city connection in Bandung was needed to boost connection. Bandung city alone, he said, needed better interconnectivity, despite its stable economic growth that almost reached eight per cent.

“However, if we only rely on private vehicles in the metropolitan area for mobilisation, it will lead to massive congestion that can disturb economic activity. Thus, we are very happy that Bandung is among the chosen pilot cities to implement this public bus-based transportation system development,” he said.

The recent report published by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) titled Asian Development Outlook 2019 Update said cities cannot thrive unless they function well as a labour market, connecting firms and workers.

A labour market works best when intracity travel is fast and cheap, firms and households have the flexibility to relocate from one part of a city to another and real estate is affordable.