In the Indonesian city of Semarang, where rapid urbanisation has led to an unsustainable dependency on cars, city leaders are focussed on creating reliable, efficient and affordable public transport, as well as cycling and walking networks.

Arup, in conjunction with Kota Kita, collaborated on a research project which explores how the city can create a more sustainable transport network that will support economic growth as well as improving accessibility for the community. This week, the project team presented their findings to Semarang’s Acting Mayor, Ir. H. Hevearita G. Rahayu, M.Sos, and Owen Jenkins CMG the British Ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste.

The research project focussed on the experiences of vulnerable communities in Semarang and proposed ideas for how to enhance accessibility for communities across the city. These ideas were further explored in a co-designed workshop with communities in February.

“Cities are places where everyone should be able to live, work and thrive. Adopting an inclusive urban planning approach, that listens and collaboratively designs for women and vulnerable groups, benefits a wider population beyond these specific groups. It helps Indonesian communities to better access opportunities as well as generates wider social, economic and environmental benefits,” said Safiah Moore, Arup’s Cities, Planning and Design Leader, Indonesia.

Commissioned by the British Embassy of Jakarta, through the UK Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transition (PACT) programme, the project aims to raise awareness of public transport, walking and cycling, as safe, daily transport choices for citizens, and to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector in three pilot cities: Semarang, Makassar and Surabaya.

The voices of vulnerable groups are often unheard during the planning process and transport systems do not sufficiently address their needs, leading to high reliance on private vehicles or very limited mobility. Including vulnerable groups in the planning process is essential to ensure the city’s infrastructure design meets the needs of all.

Starting with Semarang, our team engaged stakeholders including Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation and urban authorities as well as conducted vulnerability assessments to understand the lived experiences of women and vulnerable groups.

The objective is to design safety improvements to enhance adoption of public transport, which will then feed into tactical urbanism pilots and a subnational inclusive low-carbon transport framework.

In its National Medium-Term Development Plan from 2021 to 2024, the Indonesian government identified transport infrastructure enhancement to advance economic growth.

Semarang is one of six key cities earmarked for urban mass public transport development, other than Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, and Makassar.

The event was attended by the British Embassy team and the city agencies including city secretariat office, planning agency and transport agency.