Enabling purposive experimentation in the transport sector, the case of BRT improvement and CNG conversion in Semarang, Indonesia

In Sustainability and the Automobile Industry in Asia Policy and Governance
Chapter: Chapter 4
Book Chapter

More and more researchers are working with cities on innovative responses to climate change. Many of these efforts involve purposive experimentation. These experiments entail collaboration between researchers and policymakers in efforts to introduce small-scale initiatives that open opportunities for large-scale transformations. The promise of these experiments may nonetheless go unrealized due to a range of factors enabling or inhibiting their success. An analysis of these factors is therefore much needed. This chapter analyzes these factors for the case of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program in Semarang, Indonesia. Over a three-year period, work on the Semarang BRT moved from a study on potential climate and air pollution benefits to the conversion of 72 bus (or almost 50 percent of the total fleet) from a diesel engine to a hybrid diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) system. The case study illustrates that some of the key reasons the BRT experiment enjoyed success were (1) capacity building; (2) stakeholder engagement; and (3) resource mobilization. These three factors helped align local development with global climate objectives, leading to progressively greater changes to Semarang.