BTV, Jakarta – The government is preparing enormous subsidies for electric bus passengers in the country's push for electrification in public transport, a senior government official said on Monday night.
State-owned engineering company INKA recently launched several electric buses used by delegates and guests during last week's G20 Summit in Bali.
Called Merah Putih (red and white), the INKA bus will undergo road trials in other cities like Surabaya and Bandung, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said at BTV studio.
Because electric buses are much more expensive than those with combustion engines, it may result in higher-than-normal fares which could discourage passengers.
"We subsidize the tariffs calculated from the cost of procuring [electric] buses and people's purchasing power," he told BTV host Fristian Griec, who made her first appearance in the newly-launched Obrolan Malam (night talks) program.
"For example, if the economical fare is set at Rp 50,000, the passenger needs to pay just Rp 10,000 because we subsidize the rest," Budi said. "Now after the Summit is over, we are sending those buses to Surabaya and Bandung. The introductory program will begin as soon as next month."
He said that the electric bus program will eventually expand to long-range routes between cities and provinces.
"We have proved their durability for long-distance trips because 20 [electric] buses departed from Jakarta to the Summit in Bali without troubles," he said.
Budi said the government also provides generous incentives for individual owners of electric vehicles.
"First of all, they don't have to worry about the odd-even regulation," Budi said, referring to Jakarta's traffic restriction rule based on the license plates – odd numbers on odd dates and even numbers on even dates at a certain period.
Electric cars can travel in restricted areas regardless of dates and the numbers denoted on the license plate. "Secondly, Jakarta will offer cheaper parking tariffs for EVs," the minister added.
In addition, the government has slashed taxes on electric vehicles to a rate lower than conventional cars, he said.
"And you know what, the average price of a conventional motorcycle is around Rp 15 million ($945), but in the market today we can buy an electric motorcycle at Rp 14 million or even Rp 12 million."