Understanding Smart Ojek Dillema: To What Extent Banning Smart Ojek is Urgent

Berlin, December 2015

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Gojek at one of Jakarta’s junction (taken by author, 2015)

Recently, Jonan, the Transport Minister just announce to ban smart Ojek (Goj-Jek/Grabbike) operation. For recent case, He is right as government. Integrating smart Ojeks with more formal public transport is arguably like playing in the ‘shades of grey’ area. Based on the the field observation that I’ve done, there are many KRL users who also rely on smart Ojeks for their first- or last-mile travel in downtown Jakarta. Many of them are satisfy with smart Ojek service. Frankly, smart Ojeks can be analogized as a painkiller medicine. It is good for a temporary solution, but not good for sustainability. Too much consumption will effectively overdose a city e.g. contribute to continuous air pollution, increase fuel consumption, and also threaten user safety.

According to institutional analysis, The KRL and smart Ojeks perform minimum required standards which it gives benefit for its users. Even so, it seems logical that the bio-political setting of Jakarta is not ready to integrate smart Ojeks with main public transport. Mostly transport actors from ORGANDA (Angkots, taxi, and bus enterprises association) stand to against smart Ojek operation due to its illegality. Apparently, their claim could be also triggered by ‘business interest’ since smart Ojek somehow snatch their revenue. One of the most challenging parts is to revise the legalization of national traffic law to accommodate smart Ojeks. Furthermore, the Jakarta’s local traffic jurisdiction do not have ability to facilitate smart Ojek, if it is relatively flaw to its umbrella law.  There is still an opportunity to regard smart Ojek existence in planning process. Nevertheless, the business conflict of interest with other transport operators is able to challenge the stakeholder dialogue.

The research results provide some evidence regarding smart Ojek emergence and its effect on the Jakarta transport setting. This research reveals that smart Ojek users do not always receive better service when they are using it. The traditional Ojeks perform slightly better in the case of distance and time-saving. In this context, time saving means the time difference between ojek travel time and other public transports travel time for same O-D trip. This research reveals that when somebody uses a traditional Ojek for a longer distance, they will gain more time-saving rather than using a smart Ojek. The time-saving of the smart Ojek will meet its threshold when it reaches 30km of the trip distance. In contrast, the time-saving of the traditional Ojek begins to climb after it reaches 20km of the trip. The smart Ojek drivers were originally traditional Ojek drivers who used to operate locally. Some of them are also newcomers who shifted their job from another sector. Hence, the smart Ojek driver is typically more inexperienced in knowing the streets and effective routes. The app somehow upscale the Ojek service request broader than their local street knowledge. As a consequence, the smart Ojek drivers need some delay to ask the street name or view Google maps during the service.

In other indicators, this research finds that smart Ojek service delivery is better than the traditional Ojek in terms of trip value. This trip value conceptually means the time difference between Ojek travel time and other public transport travel times divided by travel time of particular OD trips. The smart Ojek applies an almost flat fare and cheaper prices, which apparently influences the user to travel greater distances on it. Its value climbs up consistently when the trip gains more time-saving difference. On the other hand, the maximum value of the traditional Ojek is 5000 IDR per time-saving minute, and it will decline when it gains 100 saving minutes. By contrast, the smart Ojek time value climbs up consistently when the trip saves more travel time.

The evidence also shows that smart Ojeks could enhance people’s accessibility, especially those who have activities downtown. People who use smart Ojeks for point-to-point service travel 3.7km more than traditional Ojeks on average. Also, people who used to combine smart Ojeks with KRL also travel 3.1km more than people who combine traditional Ojeks with KRL on average. In particular, it might be for direct use, because it charges a more affordable price. By contrast, traditional Ojeks charge higher prices. Hence, their users tend to minimize their distance to push the fare further.

The Ojek travel behavior analysis is resulting as disputable evidence for the prior assumption of ‘Ojek as gap-filler’. The correlation analysis shows that only traditional ojek generation trips that has correlation (sig=0.018) with the gap area km of public transport coverage. On the other hand, the correlation analysis does not show significant result for Smart ojek trip generation nor attraction with the public transport gap area. The smart Ojek strikingly attracts people who want to cut their travel time by using it for their full trip. Also, the app changes the role of Ojek, and make it independent from main public transport system. It indicates the good-win solution for individual budget efficiency, enhanced accessibility, but also threatens their safety.

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OD Lines of Smart and Traditional Ojek (Based on Jakarta downtown survey, 2015)

In terms of perceived safety, the smart Ojek user tends to be easier to satisfy when they perceive a lower safety score than the traditional Ojek users. Even the perceived safety of smart Ojek users is slightly better. Even so, this reason cannot argue about the actual safety of Ojeks. The safety that we mentioned is based on user feeling, not technically-based. The smart Ojek provides professional insurance and customer service to mitigate traffic accidents involving its user and driver. It is very different from the traditional Ojek that lacks insurance backup. Yes, you are right… The smart Ojek companies provide insurance. However, insurance never avoid you from accident on traffic. It just merely reduces your accident cost.

Smart Ojeks somehow create reliability of tactical commuting in dealing with public transport that has poor connectivity. The spending of Ojek exceeds the other public transport fares e.g TransJakarta and KRL. The KRL user who also uses Ojek spends more than 50% of their transport budget on an Ojek trip. It does not merely show how expensive it is, but also the user’s willingness to pay for their mobility. It seems logical, as the time values are also emphasized by the prior study as the critical indicator for commuters.

The smart Ojek has obviously threatened the traditional Ojek’s existence. It is somehow able to meet the people’s mobility needs with its service, even though it still has weaknesses. Based on the brief evidence, smart Ojeks also potentially have an effect on the reduction of microbus demand. If it is doing so, it might have a chance of dismantling the setting of urban passenger transport in Jakarta. Therefore, further research that also analyzes the effect of smart Ojeks to microbuses is required. So it might be, hence, Minister Jonan get a lot of pressures from transport actors to tackle smart Ojek operations.

Regulating Ojeks can be one of the options for further transport development in Jakarta. Hence, smart Ojeks should be regarded on the planning process as part of actual informal transport. A control instrument is needed to reduce the effect of uncontrolled smart Ojek units and reduce the externalities. It does not imply a formalization of the Ojek means straightaway. For instance, a supportive policy to restrict smart Ojeks on a major road will be able to diminish smart Ojek pressure from cars. It also limits (not diminish all of of them) their operation and promote active modes.

While the smart Ojek numbers keep growing, the government also needs to accelerate the development of a new integrated public transport network. Developing a bike-share system that integrates with main public transport could be an option to enhance connectivity from the public transport gap area to stations. The evidence of willingness to pay could represent how far people are able to pay for their mobility needs. The government should shift the smart Ojek users through establishment of a new reliable bus or tram network. The government could reduce the operation subsidy, and then charge the operation cost to people. Instead of paying money for smart Ojek individual trips which produce high emissions, accumulating all the fare for more massive public transport uses will be more environmentally friendly. Another option is to improve pedestrian pathway quality surrounding the station. Thus, commuters will increase their capability to reach the station with active mode, which is more sustainable.

Overwhelming KRL situation during rush hour (taken by author, 2014)

Achmad Faris Saffan Sunarya

Urban Management- Technische Universität Berlin

LPDP Awardee


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