Bali trials new eco-friendly public transport system for tourists

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Traffic congestion in Bali has grabbed headlines more often than many leaders expected.

Due to the strong tourism demand on the island and the continuous development of transportation infrastructure, traffic congestion has become synonymous with the sun, sea and beach tourist resort of Gods Island.

Bali Uburaya Road.jpg
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Now, leaders of the Ubud Art and Culture Capital have partnered with the Toyota Mobility Foundation to pilot a new initiative called Sustainable Mobility Advancing Real Transformation (SMART).

The collaboration between the Bali Provincial Government, the Gianyar Regency and the Toyota Mobility Fund will be piloted over the next six months and has the potential to revolutionize the way tourists travel to this popular resort town.

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Traffic congestion in Ubud has gradually worsened since the reopening of the border in February 2021.

Ubud’s leaders and transport agencies worked together to implement a series of new solutions to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road and create smooth traffic throughout the day.

These include cracking down on illegal parking on Ubud’s narrow one-way streets and opening up more public parking areas in the city centre.

More traffic police are also stationed at major intersections around Ubud to help direct traffic and ease queues.

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However, there is more work to be done. This new partnership could be a big step forward for Ubud and, if successful, could be replicated at the island’s major resorts in the near future.

The Toyota Mobility Foundation has invested US$1.7 million to provide new electric vehicles for a free tourist shuttle service in central Ubud starting September 2023.

The Toyota Mobility Foundation donated five battery-electric minivans and five hybrid-electric minivans during the six-month trial.

The service will be free for tourists to visit the town’s most popular attractions.

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Speaking at the launch of the new partnership, Toyota Mobility Foundation Executive Program Director Pras Ganesh shared his vision for the project.

“TMF designed this project to fulfill three principles, namely sustainability, innovation and partnership,” he shared.

He continued: “We are working hard to create a blueprint for a sustainable business model that will allow the people of Ubud to measure the impact achieved during the pilot.”

“We are very pleased to be able to launch this solution together with all partners who share the same goal of promoting the concept of mobility for all and carbon neutrality,” he added.

Central - Ubud - Transportation
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Ganesh and the team of partners confirmed that the ten vehicles will operate in the central area of ​​Ubud.

The shuttle route will stop at Ubud’s main attractions and most popular resort areas, with each stop less than a 10-minute walk from every major destination in the area.

The final roadmap will be released in September, and the team is finalizing the details.

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Indonesia
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The press conference was chaired by Cok Ace, Deputy Governor of Bali. Also present at the meeting was Nandi Julyanto, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indonesia, who shared why the foundation chose Ubud as its first pilot destination in Indonesia.

Similar partnerships are already flourishing in Hyderabad, India, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand.

“TMF chose Ubud in Bali, Indonesia, as an ideal location for the project due to its advantages as a leading tourist destination identified by the Indonesian government.”

Deputy Governor Cok Ace also shared that the tourist shuttle service not only helps reduce traffic congestion and improve tourist experience, but also helps reduce emissions and air pollution in Ubud.

Busy street in Ubud, Bali with cars and vans on tourist shopping road
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Air quality levels in Ubud hit dangerously low levels late last week, alarming many of the region’s leaders, local residents and tourists.

While air quality has now returned to moderate levels, climate experts fear it could be the start of more frequent low-air-quality days if solutions aren’t put in place to address emissions in Bali’s arts and cultural capital.

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