Jakarta launches first airport train to tackle gridlock

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Jakarta launched the first train connecting its international airport to the city center on Tuesday, January 2 as the sprawling Indonesian capital moves to tackle the gridlock that can make the trip an hours-long headache.

The new system links Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on the outskirts of Jakarta to downtown in 55 minutes, cutting driving time by half or more. (READ: Jakarta's bad traffic in numbers)

President Joko Widodo inaugurated the new system that officials hope will convince travellers to make the switch from private to public transportation on the 38-kilometer route. (READ: Indonesia traffic jam forces president to walk instead)

Jakarta is also building its first subway and light-rail systems, with service expected to start in 2019. 

"Thank God that after 3 years and working hard to finish this Soekarno-Hatta airport train, this morning we can inaugurate it and we know that this train is a way to provide transportation in Jakarta to reduce traffic jams," Widodo said.

The direct link cost 3.6 trillion rupiah ($266 million), with a total of 42 trips scheduled daily. The service is to run from dawn to shortly before midnight. 

About 11,000 passengers are expected to use the service daily with 3 trains plying the route.

Tickets will cost 70,000 rupiah ($5) for the first two months of service, rising to the regular rate of 100,000 rupiah afterwards – about half the cost of a taxi.

Indonesia, the world's biggest archipelago nation and Southeast Asia's biggest economy, has been grappling with a lack of public transportation for years, while Jakarta has seen an explosion in traffic jams that are among the worst in the world.

This week's inauguration comes about 8 months before the capital hosts the 2018 Asian Games, which are expected to see about 9,500 athletes flock to the congestion-prone city. – Rappler.com