JAKARTA (AFP) – Jakarta launched the first train connecting its international airport to the city centre yesterday as the sprawling Indonesian capital moves to tackle the gridlock that can make the trip an hours-long headache.
The new system links Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on the outskirts of Jakarta to downtown in 55 minutes, cutting driving time by half or more.
President Joko Widodo inaugurated the new system that officials hope will convince travellers to make the switch from private to public transportation on the 38 kilometre (23 mile) route.
Jakarta is also building its first subway and light-rail systems, with service expected to start in 2019.
“Thank god that after three years and working hard to finish this Soekarno-Hatta airport train, this morning we can inaugurate it and we know that this train is a way to provide transportation in Jakarta to reduce traffic jams,” Mr Widodo said.
The direct link cost 3.6 trillion rupiah ($266 million) with a total of 42 trips scheduled daily. The service is to run from dawn to shortly before midnight.
About 11,000 passengers are expected to use the service daily.
Tickets will cost 70,000 rupiah ($5) for the first two months of service, rising to the regular rate of 100,000 rupiah afterwards – about half the cost of a taxi.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest archipelago nation and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, has been grappling with a lack of public transportation for years, while Jakarta has seen an explosion in traffic jams that are among the worst in the world.
This week’s inauguration comes about eight months before the capital hosts the 2018 Asian Games, which are expected to see about 9,500 athletes flock to the congestion-prone city.