Jakarta – A plan to operate electric buses in the capital, lauded by many as a means of reducing pollution, is facing legal hurdles.
Transjakarta's electric buses are unable to hit the streets because they have yet to obtain vehicle registration certificates (STNK).
The Transportation Ministry's official in charge of the test to obtain an STNK, Dewanto Purnacandra, said the ministry had not obtained the device needed to test the batteries of electric buses.
The ministry, however, can still test the buses' other components, such as brakes and lamps.
However, Dewanto added that the ministry could still issue a vehicle type test certificate based on a test report from the bus' manufacturers conducted overseas.
It is the responsibility of the bus manufacturer to obtain the certificate. As bus operator, Transjakarta would only have to wait for them to complete certification.
"The buses from PT Mobil Anak Bangsa [MAB] are undergoing certification, while buses from BYD Automobile still need to be retested," Dewanto told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Thursday.
MAB and Chinese electric automaker BYD Automobile were among electric bus manufacturers that signed memorandums of understanding with Transjakarta in March to produce electric buses for the operator.
So far, Transjakarta has prepared two charging stations for its future electric buses.
Transjakarta president director Agung Wicaksono told a discussion on June 23 that the city administration only had a regulation on a free trial for the electric buses.
The trial run was carried out earlier this month with three electric buses, receiving a warm welcome from commuters.
The buses were deployed near three tourist attractions, namely the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) cultural park in East Jakarta, and Ancol Dreamland recreational park in North Jakarta.
Agung said the operator planned to hold paid operational trial for the electric buses on Corridor 1 (Senayan traffic circle-Kota) and Corridor 6 (Ragunan-Kuningan) for six months.
Eventually, all 140 buses serving the two corridors will be replaced by electric busses.
Agung also said a presidential regulation could provide clarity for Transjakarta.
The proposed presidential regulation on electric vehicles (EV) has been discussed since 2017. However, the draft is still being reviewed by the State Secretariat.
Public policy expert Agus Pambagio has said that the draft EV regulation did not mention electric vehicles as a mode of public transportation and that it lacked incentives for EVs. Therefore, the regulation has gone through several revisions.
"The presidential regulation is on its way," he said, "however if it is too long of a wait, we should push for a transportation ministerial regulation instead."
The regulation is expected to serve as a legal umbrella for EV manufacturers and users as well as provide incentives for EV buyers.
One of the incentives will be a lower luxury goods tax because it will be based on carbon emissions rather than engine capacity.
Agus suggested that Jakarta follow Norway's EV initiatives, which make the buses tax-free in their first 10 years of operation. (eyc)