Bali Railway Idea Sparks Planning Debate
Governor I Made Mangku Pastika’s proposal for a railway to service some of Bali’s public transport needs has merit but would require very careful preparation to avoid conflict with environmental rules and the road network, according to planner Putu Rumawan Salain, an engineer.
Salain said Bali’s record of planning and building transport infrastructure was poor and this would need to change if an integrated public transport system was to be introduced.
“An integrated public transport system has repeatedly failed to eventuate because people prefer to use private vehicles,” he said.
The bid to combat high-congestion areas had been compromised by a lack of free-running arterial roads, meaning that the northern outlet, Jl Puputan, Jl Sudirman in Denpasar, the Ngurah Rai by-pass, the Jimbaran-GWK area on the Bukit and the eastern outlet to Batubulan were slowed by too many traffic lights.
Now there are fears that the proposed integrated bus system – already delayed by lack of planning – will further increase traffic congestion in the entire area between Nusa Dua and Batubulan.
“Get rid of the maze,” Salain said.
He said the Tuban traffic lights (at the intersection of Ngurah Rai bypass and the airport road, and at the airport end of Jl Raya Tuban) and at Kedonganan further south did not help keep traffic flowing.
A Nusa Dua legislator, Wayan Prone Atmaja, said it regularly took him 90 minutes to get to Sempidi in northern Badung. “Congestion is incredible,” he said.
There was confusion over where the proposed airport-Kuta overpass would be built and no information about when such a project would be completed.
Atmaja also said traffic lights contributed to the congestion. A properly managed traffic-light system – one that would assist traffic flow by ensuring that sufficient vehicles were able to get through green lights – would cost around Rp5 billion (US$555,000).
Another example of failure was the stalled proposal for a bridge linking Tanjung Benoa at the northern end of Nusa Dua with Benoa proper, to ease congestion on the Ngurah Rai bypass and to facilitate access to Bali’s main port.
Even though foreign investors had been ready to finance and build the link as a tollway, the government had been unable to guarantee land needed for the construction.
Engineer Salain said government needed to work with all stakeholders on what to do to reduce southern Bali’s traffic problems, including the latest proposal for a railway.
“Let’s sit down together to review all options for a transportation system to see what it is most feasible and necessary in Bali,” he said.
In relation to the rail and mass-transit bus proposals, the government needed to work out what public policy was required, rather than just spending a lot of money on studies.
Building a railway was a long-term project. The government should say whether it favoured a conventional track railway or a monorail. A monorail might be able to use the existing bypass road system as its base.
Salain said government planners also needed to understand that every new or improved road, or a new transport system, would also spur growth in the areas served. There must be new development, but this should be properly planned.
Governor Pastika said last week his railway proposal called for the track to run parallel to existing roads and to service tourism needs as well as those of the local community.