One of the most frequently used terms by people living in Jakarta is “kena macet” meaning “(I) get stuck in a traffic jam”.
Jakarta is (unfortunately) notorious for its traffic congestion. Estimates in 2011 suggested that traffic jams cost the city US$ 3 billion each year. Solutions to these problems are obviously not straightforward. They involve complexities about the governance structure (whether the central government or regional government is responsible for this), infrastructure development, etc.
Syarifah Amaliah, Master of Applied Economics at the University of Adelaide shared her thoughts about congestion charges in developing countries that might applicable to Indonesia.
In developing countries, the congestion charges schemes are generally considered as a cost effective policy because the system charges on a per-pass basis and pricing structures are time- and congestion sensitive.
Based on the experience of developed countries, developing countries should consider emulating the congestion charges to solve traffic congestion.
Despite its high startup investment, congestion charges will be feasible when the cordon pricing was defined in the CBD area.
However, it is not recommended to implement the policy in the short run, particularly when mass public transport in the cities is still under provisioned.
Syarifah Amaliah’s observations highlight that it is imperative for policy makers in developing countries to realise that congestion charges essentially stand as a part of a larger policy portfolios in traffic management.
The effectiveness of the congestion charges will be significantly interrelated in particular to public transport policy for achieving effective modal split changes and other complementary policies.
Other recommended complementary policy measures include providing safe motorized access, setting up the targeted discounts for low income groups and local residents, improvement in institutional capacity, and providing revenue recycling mechanism from the congestion charge to the Road Funds which is expected to generate more public acceptance for this policy.