‘No Car Day’ will be held once a month
Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Jakarta administration is organizing a series of “No Car Days” in May, barring all private cars from entering certain streets with the aim of promoting the public transportation system.

The Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) said a longer-term goal of the campaign was to clean up the capital’s stifling air pollution and ease traffic jams.

“We will only allow public transportation vehicles on the streets. We will also be encouraging people to ride bicycles or take andong (traditional horse-drawn carriages),” Ridwan Panjaitan, the head of the agency’s air pollution unit, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The first No Car Day will be held in North Jakarta on May 26 from 6. a.m to 6 p.m. Cars will only be barred from one street. The administration, however, is yet to choose between Jl. Pramuka, Jl. Otista and Jl. DI Panjaitan.

“It will be decided next month by the North Jakarta mayor. The most important thing is the event will be carried out along the most congested road,” Ridwan said.

After North Jakarta, other municipalities of the city will take turns putting the concept to the test. Next year, it is hoped No Car Day will be a monthly event in every municipality.

Ridwan said the agency would use mobile stations to monitor air pollution levels seven days prior to and after the event.

“We will compare the readings and announce the results to the public.”

Police and other government employees will guard the restricted street during the event.

The administration previously held Car Free Days together with non-governmental organizations.

However, they were only ever held on Sundays in the fast lanes of roads in the city center from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It was reported that pollution levels dropped by 20-30 percent during the last event.

Ridwan said the Car Free Day in North Jakarta would be held on a Saturday to avoid possible disruptions to business activities.

“We still need to get the public behind the event. By next year, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be holding Car Free Days on working days.”

International Car Free Day falls on Sept. 22. The concept was first introduced in France in 1998 but has fast become popular in other countries.

The city’s air pollution bylaw requires municipal administrations to hold Car Free Days regularly starting next year.

It also bans smoking in a range of public places, as well as making emissions tests mandatory for private vehicles and requiring public transportation operators to use compressed natural gas.

Violators could face up to six months’ jail or a Rp 50 million fine if found guilty.

However, none of the requirements of the bylaw have been properly met due to weak law enforcement.

Jakarta is one of the most polluted cities in the world.

The city recorded only 41 days of “good” air quality last year.

The administration has said the transportation sector contributes up to 70 percent of the air pollution in Jakarta.

There are currently more than 2.5 million private cars, 3.8 million motorcycles and 255,000 public transportation vehicles on city streets every day.

The administration has long been struggling to reduce the influx of private cars into the capital, including by increasing parking fees.

It has pledged to ticket the owners of private cars that do not have an emissions inspection sticker on the windshield, starting June.