Parking change ahead for Jakarta?

Jakarta is no parking policy model yet! But middle-income cities everywhere will certainly relate to its parking difficulties and to the reforms it is considering.

The bad news about Jakarta's parking policies is that almost all of them point in the wrong directions. They cause huge problems and are in urgent need of reform.

The good news, according to Yoga Adiwinarto of ITDP Indonesia, is that there are many small signs of progress to build on.

The article below draws on my conversation with Yoga about parking in Jakarta. 

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We discussed these topics

  • on-street parking and how parking fees play no parking management role (for now)
  • quasi-freelance parking attendants
  • trials of new parking fee mechanisms and the potential for better parking management
  • minimum parking requirements (and the possibility they may soon be changed to maximums!)
  • huge oversupply of parking in central Jakarta revealed by an ITDP survey
  • price controls faced by commercial parking operators
  • motorcycle parking issues (briefly)
  • park-and-ride dilemmas.

On-street parking in Jakarta

[2:01] I asked Yoga to describe the parking scene that would greet you as a visitor.

This led us into a discussion of on-street parking.

Many local streets, especially those lined with restaurants, have overburdened and chaotic street parking, including often parking blocking sidewalks.

Saturated on-street parking in central Jakarta.

Priced but not managed

[2:47] Jakarta's on-street parking is not well managed. But it IS already almost universally priced.

Unfortunately, the goals of this pricing have nothing to do with parking management.

This is something of an opportunity, perhaps, since merely introducing pricing is often difficult in other countries. Although the fees are tiny, Indonesian motorists are at least accustomed to paying something to park in almost every neighborhood.

'Freelance' on-street parking attendants (kind of)

[3:25] There is a long tradition of informal parking attendants even for parking on private property.

As Yoga explained, if you open a restaurant with on-site parking in front, some guy will inevitably approach you to let you know he plans to 'help' with the parking and collect and keep most or all of the fees.

[4:40] On-street parking is usually similar and Yoga shared insights based on an ITDP Indonesia investigation into how it works.

In the usual arrangement, each parking attendant ('Juru Parkir' or Jukir with a blue shirt in Jakarta) looks after a short section of kerb. As each vehicle departs they collect a small fee. No ticket is issued. Each parking attendant has to pay a 'coordinator' a flat daily fee for the privilege. The coordinator then pays a modest share or a flat fee to a local city office.

'Blue-shirt' Jakarta parking attendants ('juru parkir' or jukir) hard at work. 

In this arrangement, neither the parking attendants nor the coordinators are city employees. They are not collecting the fees illegally, like the informal parking attendants seen in many countries, but they are still freelancers.

The whole focus of all of this is just to collect some revenue or 'rent' from the kerb space. Parking management is far from anyone's mind.

[6:56] This is also clear from the fact that the fee is typically the same regardless of parking duration.

"If I go to the convenience store for two minutes or three minutes," says Yoga, "I'll pay the same as the guy who spends maybe eight hours working there."

So these parking fees can't do what parking fees on busy streets are supposed to do, which is to nudge the people who are parking for long durations to park somewhere else, such as a quieter street or off street parking, which is often half empty. If anything, the incentive is to park all day instead of for a short period.

Trials of new pricing mechanisms

[8:39] Jakarta and a number of other Indonesian cities have been trying out alternatives to the arrangement above.

For example, since around 2014 Jakarta has been trying out parking meters in certain areas (although with parking attendants on-hand (now as employees of the parking company) to ensure the meters are properly paid).

However, the focus is still revenue. On this score, the trials seem successful, with roughly a ten-fold increase in revenue for the city (arising from higher fees, duration-based fees and a larger share reaching the city).

[10:19] There may be some small parking demand management benefit, since the meters do charge duration-based (per hour) fees.

But parking remains chaotic at busy times because the parking attendants try to maximize the parking capacity of each street and hence the revenue by encouraging various kinds of illegal parking locations including on sidewalks and double parking.

There has been no boost to enforcement as part of these trials.

ITDP Indonesia's suggestions for on-street parking management

[12:02]  ITDP wants the parking fee system to have a clear parking management goal, such as keeping some parking spaces available (maybe 90% occupancy say). Clearly the current fee levels are not achieving that in the trial locations, so peak-time parking fees would need to be higher than the current Rp5,000 per hour (about US 35 cents).

Improved enforcement is also clearly needed.

The expense of the parking meters is also a barrier to expanding the areas that have efficient parking fee collection.

[14:37] Currently, ITDP Indonesia favors the digital handheld option (already tried in a number of Indonesian cities). In this cost-effective approach, parking attendants still have jobs but they carry digital fee-collection devices. Ideally, these will be cashless, with several options available, including QR-code based payment systems and smart card payments using the same cards used on public transport and/or for toll road payments.

A smart-phone app-based payment approach does not seem to be in the picture for now.

Minimum parking requirements (and the possibility they will be changed to maximums!)

[17:05] We then turned to off-street parking supply and the policies that shape it.

Like most cities, Jakarta has minimum parking requirements and ITDP has been campaigning for change.

It has been a slow and uphill battle but Yoga had some big news. The city government is now consulting the public on a proposal to replace the parking minimums by turning them into maximums!

This is not yet a done deal, since it will need the approval the City Council, which will change in October as a result of elections. But Yoga is hopeful that this reform may happen next year.

So watch this space!

On-site parking with an office building in central Jakarta.

Huge oversupply of parking in central Jakarta (revealed by an ITDP survey)

[18:42] Yoga and ITDP have also been pushing for some more immediate repurposing of parking in the core of the city.

An ITDP survey of a 5 km stretch along Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin (where the new Metro line runs) in the heart of the business district revealed a huge oversupply of parking. There were 38,000 off-street parking spaces with the buildings in the area.

Even at peak times, the occupancy in the area was only 70%. Many buildings have such an excess that they close several floors of their parking structure and use the space for storage or just leave it empty.

So ITDP is lobbying for the excessive parking space to be officially converted to other uses, with government approval.

Office building with parking podium in central Jakarta.

At least low-income housing faces low parking requirements

[21:15] Jakarta's residential parking requirements at least have one good feature. Developments aimed at low-income groups have a very low parking requirement (from memory Yoga said 1 space per 10 units).

By contrast, premium housing must provide 1.5 spaces per unit (from memory again).

Parking price controls faced by commercial parking operators

[22:20] We briefly touched on the unfortunate fact that Jakarta's government controls the prices of off-street commercial parking by setting minimum and maximum prices.

One of the concerns seems to be that deregulating the prices of parking might enrich the private-sector owners of the parking.

We acknowledged that excessive profits are a possible issue (although unlikely in Jakarta where we have already seen there is an oversupply of parking!). But there are other better answers to that than price controls. You can tax profits for example,

The current price controls force a cross subsidy from poorer customers to richer vehicle owners to park their cars.

Motorcycle parking issues (briefly)

[24:28] This brought us to motorcycle parking.

Yoga highlighted the interesting phenomenon of informal small parking providers who specialize in motorcycle parking and who charge lower fees than the big malls and other formal parking facilities. The space efficiency of motorcycle parking makes this a feasible business for small land-owners in and around busy areas.

Motorcycle parking on vacant land in Jakarta. 

Park-and-ride and transit-oriented development (TOD) dilemmas 

[25:40] We ended with a brief discussion on park-and-ride in the Jakarta region.

While this is well suited to many of the regional rail stations (KRL Commuter rail) which serve low-density areas as far as 60 km from the city centre, where connecting bus services are often poor. Motorcycle-based park-and-ride (both formal and informal) plays an especially important role.

But Yoga was very critical of park-and-ride proposals for areas designated at Transit-Oriented Development zones, for example, the Duku Atas area which has very good public transport connections.

About Yoga Adiwinarto 

Yoga is Southeast Asia Director and Indonesia Country Director for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

Yoga has been with ITDP since 2009, initially as transport specialist managing the BRT improvement in Jakarta and Pekanbaru. Over the last three years he has worked on public transport planning and operational, Demand Management, Pedestrian improvement as well as some management and financial aspects of BRT operation. He was involved in planning and preparing the operation, tender and contracts for the opening of the last three BRT corridors in Jakarta, which is now the longest BRT system in the world.

Yoga holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Institute Technology Bandung, and a master’s degree in Transport Planning from Leeds University, England, where he spent three years working in transport consultancy firm after finishing his degree.

Learn more about ITDP Indonesia here.


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