Network Updates / Jakarta, Indonesia / 2020-11-16

Transforming Transjakarta:
First steps toward electric buses for the world’s largest BRT fleet

Transjakarta is leapfrogging from Euro II and III buses to electric directly to provide up to 99% reduction in black carbon emissions, and builds on 2019 pre-trial of electric buses

Jakarta, Indonesia
Shape Created with Sketch.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by Mega Kusumaningkatma and Yihao Xie

Residents of Jakarta take pride in their bus rapid transit (BRT) system, owned and operated by Transjakarta. Introduced in 2004, it was not only the first BRT system in Southeast Asia, but it has also become the longest BRT system in the world. Transjakarta’s network covers 260 stops along 13 corridors that span more than 250 kilometers. As of 2019, the fleet serves more than 250 million riders per year. Transjakarta is subsidized by the city government and the flat-rate fare of IDR 3,500 per ride, about 25 cents in today’s U.S. currency, has held steady throughout the years.

Unfortunately, the Transjakarta fleet is also contributing to Jakarta’s poor air quality, which has been well documented. More than 70% of Transjakarta buses are Euro II and Euro III diesel technologies, far behind the most advanced Euro VI technologies. These buses emit particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and black carbon (soot), among other pollutants, and these pollutants are associated with a wide variety of health hazards, including heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and lung cancer. An ICCT study conservatively estimated that 13.5% of premature deaths from air pollution—PM2.5 and ozone–in Jakarta in 2015 were attributable to transportation.

To address this, Transjakarta is exploring a major overhaul to zero-emission buses and has bold ambitions to shift to a 100% zero-emission fleet by 2030. Additionally, recent official decrees like Presidential Regulation No. 55/2019 and Jakarta Governor Regulation No. 03/2020 are aimed at encouraging electric vehicle market development and adoption in general.

Transjakarta is leapfrogging from Euro II and III buses to electric buses directly. There hasn’t been any timeline announced for the adoption of Euro VI diesel fuel quality and emission standards in Indonesia. Both are needed for the cleanest soot-free diesel buses, which provide up to 99% reduction in black carbon emissions, to be possible. Moreover, Transjakarta decided not to pursue compressed natural gas buses after some experience with them in the 2000s. That left electric buses as the remaining candidate technology.

Transjakarta is taking early steps toward electrification. In 2019, it started a pre-trial of electric buses in a limited area. Participating manufacturers included China’s BYD and Mobil Anak Bangsa, a domestic bus company. This was followed by a three-month trial, but this was also not open to the public. Buses had to carry water buckets instead of passengers because electric buses could not get the necessary permits. Thanks to a recently adopted regulation by the Ministry of Transport (MoT) that specifies type-approval steps and allows electric buses to operate on Indonesian roads, one 6-meter and another 9-meter BYD bus subsequently ran on the busiest route in Jakarta and served passengers from July 2020 to October 2020.

Ahmad “Puput” Safrudin (middle), executive director at KPBB, at the electric bus trial. Source: Transjakarta

While these early steps are encouraging, the pace is clearly not on track to meet Transjakarta’s 2020 goal to add 100 electric buses by the end of the year. Even if Transjakarta successfully pulls this off, it’s still a long way to full electrification in 2030. A detailed timeline has not yet been laid out, and to be successful, the bold target needs to be matched by actual policies and plans to move the fleet in the right direction.

For one, the high purchase price for the buses and difficult negotiation on a reduced electricity price increase the cost of ownership of electric buses. Additionally, there aren’t a lot of electric bus suppliers active in the Indonesian market. Limited availability makes the 100 bus goal by the end of 2020 improbable, and makes future deployments at a larger scale appear more challenging. For a fleet the size of Transjakarta’s, fleet-wide planning should begin soon, to understand baseline bus performance and identify suitable routes and minimum technology requirements.

To help spark ideas for the work ahead, the ICCT and Jakarta-based NGO Leaded Gasoline Removal Committee (KPBB) conducted three fleet electrification workshops from July 2020 to September 2020. Representatives from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment (Marvest), MoT, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR), Ministry of Industry (MoI), and Fiscal Policy Agency under Ministry of Finance (MoF) participated, as did Jakarta city government officials, representatives of utility company PLN, and electric bus suppliers. Some policy proposals that could accelerate the electrification of Transjakarta’s fleet emerged:

  • MoI plans to make secondary regulations based on Presidential Decree No. 55/2019, to lay out a roadmap for national motor vehicle industry development and domestic production of electric vehicles.
  • The Fiscal Policy Agency is designing incentive schemes for domestically produced buses (e.g., via complete knock down, CKD) and imported buses (e.g., via completely built units, CBU).
  • Transjakarta and the Jakarta city government proposed to the central government and MEMR that funds from the state budget for diesel be diverted to electricity subsidies for charging.

Workshops like these are important for government agencies and private stakeholders to get together and understand each other’s needs and concerns. All work together to help Transjakarta take concrete actions to realize its bold electric bus goals. The reduced noise pollution and cleaner air that electric buses are able to bring will benefit Jakarta’s residents for years to come.

Sharing advances in best practices regarding research and implementation of soot-free and electric buses is supported by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Heavy-Duty Vehicles Initiative.

Banner image by Transjakarta via Wikimedia Commons