A Cleaner, Less Congested Jakarta with e-Buses

Inside the Transjakarta e-bus. (ICLEI Indonesia)

The DKI Jakarta Provincial Government is addressing air pollution and traffic congestion in Jakarta, Indonesia with its growing fleet of electric buses (e-buses). Since March 2022, the local government, through e-bus service provider PT Trans Jakarta, has already been operating over 100 e-buses across various city routes.

Public vehicles of different sizes can be seen in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Feby Elsadiora/Unsplash)

Improving the Air Quality and Lessening Emissions

On the IQAir website, Indonesia is consistently ranked among the countries with the worst Air Quality Index (AQI). In August 2023, DKI Jakarta’s airborne pollutants were measured at 116.7 micrograms per cubic meter—over 23 times the safe limit of the World Health Organization—making the city’s air quality one of the worst in the world. In measuring the air quality of an area, the amount of particulate matter (PM2.5), or pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns such as dust, soot, and smoke are, considered.

An estimated 143,000 thousand tons of air pollution are generated by motor vehicles in Jakarta each year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this number is four times higher than the normal limit. A total of 123,700 premature deaths were associated with this pollution in 2019.

An emission inventory prepared by the DKI Jakarta Environmental Agency in 2020 identified four sectors of city emissions: the energy industry, manufacturing, transportation, and residential and commercial. According to the emissions inventory, the transportation sector is the largest contributor, followed by the industrial sector.

Seeing this, the government implemented policies aimed at improving Jakarta’s air quality. A number of areas in DKI Jakarta have been designated as Low Emission Zones (LEZs) since February 2021, with most areas in Jakarta targeted to be emission-free by 2030. The DKI Jakarta Government also issued Governor Regulation (Pergub) Number 90 of 2021 concerning the Climate Resistant Regional Low Carbon Development Plan (RPRKD) in support of the Indonesian government’s commitment to zero carbon emissions.

To keep the city on track towards zero carbon emissions, Jakarta has begun developing a plan to electrify its buses by 2030.  The shift from fossil fuel to electric buses is expected to have a significant positive effect on public health and air quality.

“Currently, the government is preparing a plan on how to convert conventional vehicles to electric buses or battery-powered vehicles, including conversion of electric two-wheeled vehicles. Policy formulation began this year and is awaiting the President’s approval,” stated Suharto, ATD., M.M., the Director of Road Transport from the Ministry of Transportation, at a dialogue event held by ICLEI and Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) Partners.

“It is important that we collaborate with every stakeholder as we transform our public transport system,” added Suharto.

By the end of 2030, Jakarta is targeting to have over 10,000 or 100% of its fleet be electric buses. This ambitious plan is estimated to contribute to a 60% reduction in Jakarta’s greenhouse gas emissions versus the business-as-usual scenario.

With the introduction of e-buses, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by up to 50.3% since they utilize rechargeable batteries instead of fossil fuel. This makes e-buses more environmentally-friendly than conventional buses.

Aside from being more eco-friendly, electric buses produce less noise when traveling than conventional buses. An electric bus fleet can reduce noise pollution by 28% compared to a fleet of fuel-powered vehicles, ensuring a more comfortable commute for both passengers and other road users.

Indonesia’s First Electric Bus

Since 2018, the DKI Jakarta Government has been working with international institutions and the private sector to deploy e-buses. The collaborations involve organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Climate Technology Center and Network, the C40 Network, and the British Embassy. Similarly, the involvement of the private sector has also been crucial to the growth of the electric vehicle industry in the city.

The DKI Jakarta works in collaboration with PT Transjakarta to operate e-buses. Transjakarta’s e-buses are the first electric fleet to be present in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta. Transjakarta currently operates a 237 kilometer-long bus rapid transit (BRT) route, non-BRT routes, and small public transportation services with a large fleet serving the community daily. Having many e-buses can lead to the production of domestic electric vehicles and their components, which will support the development of a national electric vehicle ecosystem over time.

Information provided by Transjakarta shows that each electric bus has a battery capacity of 324 kilowatt-hours, allowing them to travel 250 kilometers or 17 hours without recharging. Approximately 1.5 hours are required to charge one fleet unit.

Jakarta bus rapid transit (BRT). (Eugenia/Unsplash)

Transjakarta’s electric buses feature seatbelts across all seats, wide access door for passengers who will get on and off, and ramps which enable wheelchair users to enter the bus from either the front door or the back door.

By improving electric buses and encouraging citizens to use them, the Jakarta government can lessen traffic while also accelerating the reduction of emissions. A single e-bus can accommodate 28-40 passengers, the same capacity as 14-20 motorcycles or 7-40 private cars. The result is ultimately cleaner air, faster commutes, and a healthier environment.

An inclusive bus: the Transjakarta e-bus includes a ramp for wheelchair users.

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