Wednesday, April 18, 2012

e-Toll Discussion

In Jakarta, there is a big discussion concerning e-Toll. The Minister for SOE, Dahlan Iskan, insists that there should be no more than 5 cars in queueing entering the toll gate in the city and he assumed that this will be solved by implementing (you can read it: selling) more e-Toll card.
The e-Toll system is recently developed by State-Owned Bank Mandiri and its network is already extending to minimarkets. The question is: is it true that 5-cars-in-queue target solely the problem of PT. Jasa Marga (the state-owned toll operator) and is it true that by implementing e-Toll there will be no more long queues?
To answer first question, we should see statistics: in Greater Jakarta Area there are new 1.3 million cars and motorbikes per year rolling on the streets, and the growth is estimated 10-12% according to the Greater Jakarta Police. The growth of street development is less than 1% per year. Has the Minister read this numbers?

The second question is correlating closely with the first question: if you have cars streaming to your toll gate and if this "sophisticated" e-Toll card read time is 10 seconds, then you will have 4 minutes for the cars. But if you take into account that every car is approximately 4 meter long, then for 20 cars you have 80 meter distance from the gate to the last car. Just forget it.

Jasa Marga and Mandiri should have taken into account many complaints on existing e-Toll system. They said that even e-Toll read and validation time is not shorter or even longer than manual system by operator! So forget about that 10 seconds. Again, the Minister arguments are weak and even baseless. The Minister has even tried to sell the cards himself by some beautiful artists but it didn't show the expected result. Why? Because the customer knows. And that "heroic" effort by the Minister has even resulted contraproductive additional jam that day because he needs 5-10 minutes to talk with passing drivers.

Jasa Marga seemed to know that problem by offering on board unit installed in the car. With this technology cars passing by with 10 km/h could be detected automatically. However the price should be paid by the customer is Rp. 500.000 per unit (USD 56) and it seems that it would be long way to be implemented since it is very doubtful that the customers are ready for it. In my opinion, the Minister should have jumped into this device, not e-Toll card which has proven its lower-than-expection delivery.

The problem is not e-Toll. The problem is there is not enough good public transportation in Jakarta. Even buses of PPD - another State-Owned transportation company - are old and imported from dumped Japanese buses. The Minister should have known this - not just let PPD acquired by PT. Kereta Api - The State Railway - because they are different!

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