Just What We Need

A clean, affordable, effective public transportation system would go a long way towards countering one of the immediate issues that Bali faces: massive vehicle overcrowding and pollution – two ills that more so than anywhere are at polar odds with the pristine environment needed by an island dependent on tourism revenue.

Now the authorities say they are working on such a mass-transit plan, albeit on a smaller scale than one would normally expect, and hope it have it operational by 2010, with 17 routes around the gridlocked Denpasar area.

If that happens, it’s a start, but it would need to be expanded to other critically important economic areas of the island, notably southern parts, including from the sole existing international airport. We believe arriving tourists and locals would relish the prospect of hopping aboard a properly managed public vehicle to get to their destination – dealing an overdue blow to the monopolistic, high-fare taxi system currently in place.

We worry, however, that vehicles running on such a network might quickly fall into disrepair and, after a short period, the traveling public would shun it entirely. Therefore, stern management would be vital; it would need to be management that would also be capable of dealing with the various banjars on the routes and demands they might make.

The authorities’ announcement, however, reported in this newspaper last week, has captured readers’ enthusiasm for such a welcome and long-overdue endeavor.

One reader writes: “It would be wonderful to have a public transportation system in Bali, both environmentally and [for] personal benefit for [the] Balinese. People would love to use them if they are punctual, frequent and a bit faster than bimos. Adding to that, if there are any public tourist vehicles on selected days to the most common tourist places, it would be great.”

Another said: “I think having public transport around Denpasar and surrounding districts would be excellent; even the tourists would use it.”

These sentiments, we believe, are prevailing – and necessitate urgent action. That Bali does not yet have a working public transportation system does not speak well of those who have been running the island’s affairs.

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