Category: urban planning

Sports journalist Wieta Rachmatia has been using Transjakarta, the capital city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, since 2010. Most of the time, she takes the Corridor 9, a route that links Pinang Ranti in East Jakarta to Pluit in North Jakarta. As a woman, she had felt that the bus system was fine – that is until she became heavily pregnant.

“Pregnant women can’t get into the bus through separate door, especially at Pinang Ranti bus station, because the Transjakarta officers almost never open that door,” says Rachmatia, who gave birth last month.

“I had to jostle with other passengers to enter the bus,” she says. The officers who are supposed to open the separate access door for pregnant women never really paid attention to the passengers, whether there was a pregnant woman or not, so the door remained shut, she adds.

First coming into operation 13 years ago, the Transjakarta Busway system was one of Jakarta administration’s initiative to solve the problem of low quality public transport. The BRT system was built with the purpose that people can use public transportation comfortably and safely. But a closer look at the system and interviews with passengers and transport and urban experts show that in many aspects the system still caters mainly to the needs and experiences of working men.

There is a misperception that transport infrastructure and services are “gender neutral” and automatically benefit men and women in equal measures. However, studies show that women and men have different transportation needs. In addition, women often face barriers when using public transport.


Pregnant women are not the only ones feeling the inconvenience of Transjakarta’s crowded but.

Elisa Sutanudjaja, an urbanist who works at Ruang Jakarta Center For Urban Studies (RUJAK), relates her own experience: “I got on the Semanggi bus stop. It was very crowded at time. Although the bus arrived every two to three minutes during rush hour, it was always packed with people.”

“Transjakarta operator established the tap-in and tap-out card system to find out which are the most crowded bus routes. But why hasn’t this led to the provision of more buses and the expansion of bus stations?” she asks.

Another important facility not provided by the Transjakarta system is restroom. There are no toilets at all the bus stops along Corridor 9. In fact, there is no mandatory requirement for transportation authority to provide toilets.

Toilet is an undeniably essential component to create a comfortable city for all. As people spend more time in public places, they will need private space to address the basic needs of the human body. For women, the demands of their physiological conditions are even more urgent. Pregnant women urinate more frequently. While on period, women use toilet more often to check on or change their menstrual pads.

Udayalaksmanakartiyasa Halim, an urban transport planner who works at the Institute For Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), tells me that although providing public toilets on Transjakarta bus stations is a good idea, it may not be translated well into reality.

“It is fair to build public toilets, but it should come with an extraordinary effort from the company,” he says.

“We know how poor the condition of public toilets in Jakarta is – or anywhere in Indonesia. If they are not committed to keeping well-maintained toilets, then it is probably best not to have them in the first place,” he says.

In addition, he adds, toilets need water supply and it can be difficult to install the pipes to the bus stations, which are located on streets’ medians.


In March 2016, Thomson Reuters Foundation Institute and YouGov survey agency, released a list of cities with the most dangerous transport system for women. According to these survey, Jakarta ranks fifth as the city with the most dangerous transport system for women in the world.

One of the efforts that has been done to make Transjakarta bus ride safer for women is by creating women-only space in the bus. Anna Gultom, an employee at a Jakarta-based TV station has been using Transjakarta for three years. She says that she feels that Transjakarta has accommodated women’s need.

“In each bus now there’s a designated area for women. Also, there are special buses for female passengers,” she says.

University student Agatha Danastri says she feels safer after Transjakarta operator provides women-only area.

“The Transjakarta officers firmly prevents men from occupying designated area for women. I find that Transjakarta is more women friendly compared to the commuter line,” she says, referring to the train system connecting Jakarta to its many suburbs.

However, based on my personal observation, such policy is not strictly applied to the rest of the bus. For example, women who travel with their husband and children prefer to occupy the “mixed area” (in the back of the bus). Transjakarta officers do not usually prevent women from occupying this area. Though the women-only part is designated for women only, there is no sign for what is by default, the men’s section.

In a sense, the problem of sexual harassment is reduced to being a problem that can be prevented by separating women from men. This, of course, is a wrong assumption.

Elisa says that despite the separation, sexual harassment continues to occur in the bus. It all goes back to the fact that there are not enough busses to accommodate the massive volume of passengers.

“Sexual harassment occurs when a bus is very packed with passengers, right? There aren’t many buses so that people don’t have other choice, but riding a very crowded bus. In a packed bus, there would be greater risks of sexual abuse. If the bus is not too crowded, people can keep an eye on each other.”

Lighting is also an important issue, particularly in Transjakarta bus stops. Improving lighting in public places could serve many purposes, one of them is prevention of crime. Security affects both men and women but women have a higher risk of being crime victims. Based on my personal observation, the majority of elevated bridges, which also functioned as pedestrian bridges, are not well illuminated. Also, only small number of them are equipped with CCTV.


Why are some elevated bridges equipped with CCTV, while others aren’t? And why are some Transjakarta bus stops well lighted while others aren’t?

Halim says that before January 2014, Transjakarta institutional status was city government agency under Jakarta Transportation Agency. Starting January 2014, however, its status changed to city-owned enterprise. With the change of this institutional status, Jakarta Transportation Agency must hand over all assets to PT Transjakarta, including the pedestrian crossing bridges. However, the asset-transferring process needs time. Consequently, PT Transjakarta cannot do anything about elevated bridges that are not equipped with CCTV, because it is not their responsibility.

Improving Transjakarta

All of these are evidence that Transjakarta facilities have not fully accommodating to women’s need.  Elisa also points out that to many women riding Transjakarta bus: there is not enough space to put things.

“Women often carry things. For those who work, they carry shoes and lunch box. On some particular routes that pass shopping centers, many women carry shopping bag. I have suggested that Transjakarta operator creates upper deck compartment”, she says.

Asked what other things should be provided by  Transjakarta operator, she suggests an elevator at certain bus stops to accommodate pregnant women, the elderly and differently-abled people. In addition, she believes that big stations should provide toilets and small clinics

“I have seen a passenger who fainted because of excessively long waiting time at bus stops,” she says.

Making Transjakarta bus rides safer and more convenient for women can be the first step towards making Jakarta a more humane city for all its citizens.


This story has been published in  . You can see the original version here. Pictures is mine.





Foto di atas saya ambil pada tanggal 10 Juni pada sore hari sepulang kantor. Ini adalah puncak kekesalan saya terhadap para pengendara sepeda motor yang tidak tahu diri. Ketika saya sedang berjalan di trotoar di Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, tiba tiba ada pengendara motor yang berkali kali membunyikan klakson. Saya terkejut ketika mendapati seorang pengendara motor yang berada tepat di belakang saya. Bukannya saya minggir, saya tetap berjalan santai dan sama sekali tidak memberikan ruang untuk si pengendara.

Setelah itu, saya mulai memarahinya. Saya bilang bahwa dia telah melanggar hak hak pejalan kaki. Saya juga bertanya apakah selama bersekolah dia diajarkan untuk menaati peraturan lalu lintas. Reaksi si pengendara : diam seribu bahasa. Mungkin karena terlalu kaget dan tidak menyangka akan “disemprot” oleh perempuan galak. Saya mengerti bahwa aksi marah saya menjadi tontonan orang. Saya pun tidak peduli. Sekali kali, galak itu memang perlu. Saya juga tidak segan segan “galak” terhadap ibu ibu yang pernah melanggar antrian ketika sedang menunggu bus transjakarta. Kadang saya kesal, mentang mentang usianya lebih tua dari saya, mungkin dia berpikir boleh melanggar antrian.

Dalam Undang-Undang Nomor 22 Tahun 2009 tentang Lalu Lintas dan Angkutan Jalan dalam pasal 106 poin 2 disebutkan bahwa: “Setiap yang mengemudikan kendaraan bermotor di jalan wajib mengutamakan keselamatan pejalan kaki dan pesepeda”. Lebih lanjut, dalam undang undang yang sama pada Pasal 284 yang berbunyi: “Setiap orang yang mengemudikan kendaraan bermotor dengan tidak mengutamakan keselamatan pejalan kaki atau pesepeda sebagaimana dimaksud dalam pasal 106 ayat (2), dipidana dengan pidana kurungan paling lama 2 (dua) bulan atau denda paling banyak Rp 500.000 (lima ratus ribu rupiah).”

Undang undangnya jelas berbunyi demikian tapi faktanya, polisi, yang seharusnya menindak, dengan memberikan surat tilang, seringkali mendiamkan hal itu. Saya jadi berpikir : pelanggaran HAM berat di negeri ini pun tidak diusut selama bertahun tahun, apalagi “cuma” pelanggaran terhadap hak-hak pejalan kaki. Di negeri ini , peraturan memang dibuat untuk dilanggar, bukan?

Kata-kata mantan walikota Bogota, Enrique Penalosa patut dicatat : “when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality”. Jadi, terbukti kan negara ini belum berdemokrasi….mungkin demorcrazy atau demorcrashit. FYI, sedikit cerita mengenai Penalosa dan opini saya mengenai trotoar dapat dilihat disini .

Friday, 27 March 2015 would be one of the happiest days in my life. It sounds like i’m exagerrating but I’m not. Well, on that day, I got an autograph from “my favorite politician”, Enrique Peñalosa, ex mayor of Bogota. Normally, i don’t like politicians but he’s different. Even though nobody is perfect (politicians too) but he has something that I admire : his environmental and urban planning policy. When he was being a mayor of Bogota (1998-2001), bus rapid transit (in Bogota it’s called “Transmilenio, “older brother” of transjakarta) and bike lane were constructed. In addition, Bogota has more parks and more sidewalks.

IMG-20150321-WA0001At the beginning of his three-year term as mayor of Bogotá, Penalosa was nearly impeached because he managed to ban cars from the sidewalks. What triggered his impeachment was the protest from business owners accustomed to using pedestrian walkways as their designated parking areas.

IMG-20150321-WA0003 IMG-20150321-WA0002  His statements regarding urban planning always become my favorite quotes. Here are some of them  :

– “A bicycle path is a symbol that $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30000 dollar car”

– “God made us walking animals, pedestrians. as a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to suvive but to be happy”

– “In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality”

Right now, Peñalosa is a consultant and president of board of Institute For Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). For your information, I didn’t meet Peñalosa personally. A friend of mine who works for ITDP Indonesia went to Karachi to attend a meeting and Peñalosa was there too. Surprisingly, Penalosa sent me messages through a video. He’s very friendly and sympathetic. Someday, I hope I can meet him in person 🙂

The Importance of Sidewalk

For some people, sidewalk is just a piece of cake, but for me or perhaps for majority of people, sidewalks is a big deal. It is one of the most important aspects to determine how healthy your city. Enrique Penalosa, ex major of Bogota said : “God made us walking animals, pedestrians. As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to suvive but to be happy”. I will explain later about what Penalosa did with Bogota during his term as mayor of Bogota.

Last year, I found an article called : “The Perfect Fascist City Take a Train in Jakarta” , written by Andre Vltchek. Things that surprised me were these words : Since 1965 the government worked hard to make sure that Indonesian cities would have no public transportation, no sizeable parks and no sidewalks. Public places in general were considered very dangerous, as that is where the people used to gather discussing ‘subversive’ issues like their plans for the country. Besides that, there are 1 sentence that made me shock : Sidewalks had to go, too, as they were not profitable and ‘too social’. I am suspicious that there is great conspiracy to eliminate sidewalk. :p

Well, of course I disagree with those statements because we can’t consider  sidewalk as a business. Sidewalk is a basic needs for everyone because everyone need to walk. Walk is the simplest form of sports. I remember someone told me that people in New York City walk 8 kms a day. It is not surprising  since New York City has good sidewalk. Furthermore, from health perspective, World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people should do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week.

Let’s switch to the next topic :  Enrique Penalosa.  I call him as “defender of sidewalk”. What he did when he became mayor of Bogota was very revolutionary. He reclaimed sidewalk for pedestrian by banning sidewalk parking. He admitted that that he was almost impeached for getting cars off the sidewalk. In addition he said that : when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality”.

It was Penalosa and his struggle to reclaim sidewalk. In Jakarta (place where I live), the Jakarta administration are repairing sidewalk, especially in main street, because some of them are in bad condition. Nevertheless, the main problem is not about its bad condition. Motorcycle users who drive down the sidewalk and street vendor are the main problem.

Last but not least, I will show you some pictures of sidewalks. I took it in Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Mexico City.


Sidewalk in Old Town, Jakarta. Always be full of street vendors


Sidewalk in Jalan MH. Thamrin. I took this picture on Sunday. No street vendor, but wait ….you have to come to this street on weekdays…and you will see the reality.


Sidewalk in Bangkok is just the same as Jakarta, full of street vendor and…..oh wait there is “ojek” . Completely the same as Jakarta.


Sidewalk in Kuala Lumpur. Most of sidewalks in KL are in good condition.


Other sidewalk in Kuala Lumpur


Sidewalk in Mexico City


Other sidewalk in Mexico City