efe-epaRicardo Perez-Solero Jakarta

Seemingly never-ending lines of vehicles are an almost permanent fixture on the streets of Jakarta, where traffic congestion is among the worst in the world due to years of poor urban planning, a problem that authorities hope will be relieved by the upcoming opening of the city's inaugural metro line.

The sprawling conurbation made up of the Indonesian capital and the municipalities of Tangerang, Bogor, Bekasi and Depok has a population of over 30 million people, a majority of whom regularly use the city's streets in more than 10 million vehicles on their daily commutes to and from work.

Fumes from the mostly stagnant vehicles' exhaust pipes color the sky in a grey-ish hue, with often just motorbikes being able to make any headway through the sea or cars and public buses, assuming street sellers and hawkers carts' do not get in the way.

In 2015, automotive lubricant company Castrol published a study which found that Jakarta had the worst traffic congestion among the world's major cities.

The following year, TomTom Traffic Index, which measures traffic congestion in 390 cities across the world, placed the Indonesian capital in third on the list of most congested towns, behind Mexico City and Bangkok, both of which have for years provided metro services to its commuters.

In January, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that the state loses 65 trillion rupiahs ($4.6 billion) every year due to traffic jams, and criticized the lack of integration among transport bodies.

Fajar Triperdana, who makes a daily journey of 40 kilometers (25 miles) between Bogor and the center of the capital, told EFE that the traffic condition is a result of the unreliability of public transport and the social prestige of traveling in a car.

"The government's lack of interest in improving the condition of public transport made it indispensable for people to have private vehicles," said Fajar, who spends between three to four hours a day alternating between suburban trains and mototaxis on his commute.

The suburban train and Transjakarta bus rapid transit network - which was inspired by Transmilenio in Bogota, Colombia - are currently the only form of respite from the traffic jams, while ride-hailing apps such as Grab and Go Jek have improved connectivity in the city.

The inauguration of the city's first metro in the form of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) on Mar. 14 and 5-6 km Light Rail Transit (LRT) by the end of the month offers a ray of hope to the capital's residents, 26 years after the first plans for the rail services were drawn up.

The first MRT route (Lebak Bulus-Rotonda Hotel Indonesia) will be a part of the north-south line passing through the business hub of Jakarta, and according to the metropolitan management authority, it will be used by some 130,000 passengers every day.

The total time taken on the 16km metro stretch will be 30 minutes, cutting the time taken to cover the same route by road during peak hours by up to one hour.

Bus service Transjakarta, which has to struggle with other vehicles travelling on its exclusive lanes, is used by an average 650,000 people on a typical work day, according to Transport Ministry data for Oct. 2018.

The first stretch of LRT, which will connect the northern part of Jakarta with the east, is expected to be used by nearly 70,000 people every day.

But many residents of the city, such as Dane Hanna Muszynska, who lives with her family in Tangerang, an area that is far from the suburban lines, will have to continue timing their commutes during non-peak hours until they can afford to stop using their own vehicles.

"In my car I take between 30 and 40 minutes if I leave my house at 5.30 in the morning. I take an hour to return if I leave from my place of work in Mega Kuningan (southern Jakarta) at 3.00 in the afternoon," Muszynska said.

For her, the new metro "is a long term investment and will probably take many years" to ease the traffic jams and improve her commute.