Bali is an island that has been struggling to contend with rampant traffic congestion for years.
While for many local people and frequent visitors to Bali, the traffic has simply become a frustrating but normal part of everyday life, for many leaders and Bali lovers it’s becoming increasingly clear that big changes need to be made, and fast.
Last month, transport officials confirmed that plans to establish an underground metro line from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport to resort destinations like Seminyak and Sanur would be going ahead in 2024.
While officials are still generating funding, land acquisition, and the necessary legislative changes to create such a seismic project, the Badung Regency is also working on establishing a tram line to connect some of the area’s most popular beaches.
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Bali is divided into nine regencies, the busiest regency for tourism is undoubtedly Badung. Home to resorts like Kuta, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, Seminyak, Legian, and Canggu, the regency continues to welcome the largest amount of tourists every year.
Ambitions are high to create an underground metro line in 2024 and even in 2025, but regency leaders feel that constructing a tram line could be up and running quicker and not interfere with the central government’s plans to build the metro line.
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The tram line will connect Bali Airport with the Samigita Beaches, which is the stretch of coastline that runs from Kuta through to the beaches in the resort town of Legion.
The Regent of Badung, I Nyoman Giri Prasta, has told reporters that plans are under review and have not been impacted by plans to build a metro line. In fact, Regent Prasta says that the planning is already in the technical assessment phase.
He told reporters, “The plan to build this tram is so that it doesn’t overlap with the national program.” The tram line would be established as a BUMN investment from PT Industri Kereta Api (INKA) and the Badung Regency Government would be the land provider.
It will remain to be seen if both the projects get underway in 2024. Both projects have been on the table for years, though statements from both the central government and regency officials suggest that much more focus is being dedicated to the task.
Many have voiced concerns over how both these projects might be funded. The metro line had been budgeted for in 2019 but was paused in light of the pandemic.
I Gede Wayan Samsi Gunarta, the Head of the Bali Province Transportation Service, explained to reporters on Monday 16th that in 2019 the costs required for phase one construction were IDR 8-10 trillion.
Phase one consists of establishing a rail line between Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport through to Kuta, Central Parking, and the beach resort of Seminyak.
The Bali Provincial government and Central government are working to lock in international investors to help fund the projects.
Gunarta explained, “There are at least seven countries that are interested. Among them is South Korea which has very advanced the process, then there is China, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, England, yes, six or seven countries have expressed interest in financing.”
The Acting Governor of Bali Sang Made Mahendra Jaya, has also recently met with the South Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Sang-deok.
Many have hoped that Acting Governor Jaya had made headway in securing investment and advisory support from the teams behind the Seoul Metropolitan Subway.
At the earliest, the first phases of construction on both projects won’t happen until mid-2024, and the complete build may take several years.
So in the meantime, what are the best ways for tourists to travel between the airport and their vacation destinations along the southern coast?
Taxis and private hire drivers are the best bet for most tourists arriving in Bali. It is now possible to book a GoCar at the airport upon arrival; the service is managed by GoJek, an e-taxi service similar to Uber.
The government has also just announced a new initiative that will create a market standard and accreditation system for participating taxi drivers in Bali.
The new scheme has come into effect already, and more drivers are signing up every week.
While it doesn’t directly address the traffic congestion issue, it is part of an island-wide mandate to improve tourist experience across the board.
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