September has been a big month for transportation news in Bali. For first-time visitors planning their vacations, news of road construction and a new metro system may not be of much interest.
But for those seasoned Bali lovers out there, it’s clear that this is the kind of news that seriously affects those holiday plans.
Last week, transportation officials confirmed that the plans to create a new light rail system from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International to the leading resort areas of the island have entered the next phase of planning.
It was announced just days later (and plans could still go in another direction) that the long-anticipated railway will now be established as an underground metro line.
This is a decision that has triggered a huge dialogue with Bali lovers, both local and international alike.
@journeyonpoints Survival mode in Bali 😅 #bali #indonesia #traffic #travel ♬ What is Dis Huni – Brian Morr
Ministers and transportation leaders are all in agreement that the road infrastructure in Bali is buckling under the pressure of tourism-related traffic on the island.
They have speculated that Bali will be in a state of near-constant gridlock as soon as 2027 if seismic action is not taken soon.
There are a series of road construction projects underway that will help alleviate the impact of non-tourist traffic in resort areas, like the Gilimanuk-Medewi Toll Road, and plans to create a bypass road to Sanur Harbor, but this will all take time…and money.
@ktravelsuk Completely normal scenes here, trying to cross the road & they'd run you over on the pavement🤣🤣 #bali #seminyak #bikes #roads #bali #traveltok #fyp ♬ original sound – ktravelsuk🌎 | Kirsten
Speaking from Jakarta on Wednesday, the Indonesian Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, gave more insights about the plans to construct the game-changing railway network in Bali.
Minster Panjaitan told reporters “We hope for groundbreaking [progress] early next year, we can [start construction] because the study has been carried out for a long time, but [there have been delays] because we were hit by COVID-19, we restarted it.”
He confirmed that he has received orders from President Joko Widodo to accelerate the railway project and other public transportation development programs to establish a connected transportation network in Bali that can be used by local people and tourists.
Minster Panjaitan continued to explain how the underground railway network would work.
At the first announcement, it was revealed that the first route on the railway line would go as far as Seminyak, with another circular route running through Denpasar, Renon Benoa, and Sanur before arriving back at the airport.
The Minster shared that the railway will go “From the airport to Seminyak and if necessary, it will continue to Canggu, 20 kilometers, and later we are considering including a ticket price of one US dollar, two US dollars, for each passenger use or no use so that with public financing it will also be possible.”
The plans to build an underground train network to help alleviate the impact of tourist traffic on Bali’s roads have been met with mixed responses, to say the least.
Key figures in Bali politics are asking whether a metro line should be the top priority for both public and private funding.
AA Ngurah Ahi Ardhana from the Bali Province DPRD shared his views with reporters. He said, “In my opinion, good and connected walking facilities precede LRT.
“LRT is a solution when existing public transportation is no longer able to serve the community, but in fact, the Balinese people currently do not want to use public transportation.”
Many local people do not use the public transportation options that exist already due to the limited routes and sometimes unreliable schedules.
Ardhana continued, “Apart from the low level of interest in walking due to poor public facilities in the form of pedestrians or sidewalks which must also be well connected.”
It has long been a gripe of tourists in Bali that the sidewalks in leading resort areas are dangerously uneven and in many cases collapsed and crumbled.
With traffic backing up it is not uncommon for motorcycle drivers to whizz by on the sidewalk either.
Albeit slow, things are starting to change in Bali. As plans to establish the underground LRT hit the headlines, plans are also full steam ahead for major roadworks that will improve the traffic flow into the resort area of Uluwatu.
The ever-popular arts and cultural capital of the island, Ubud, is this week celebrating the launch of a new trial shuttle bus service that connects tourists to all the major attractions in the town free of charge for the next six months.
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