Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently joined thousands of excited people at the inauguration of Jakarta’s first mass rapid transit system.

Built at a cost of $1.1 billion, the Japanese-funded project aims to address Jakarta’s severe traffic congestion by taking vehicles off the road.

The 16km line, which was inaugurated after six years of construction, runs above and below ground and stretches from the centrally located Hotel Indonesia to the southern reaches of the city.

Travel times between the two points will be reduced to just 30 minutes from around two hours, offering some relief to frustrated commuters.

Work on a second line has also begun linking downtown to Jakarta's northern port with more lines envisioned in the future. Jakarta’s new mass rapid transit system is funded through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Along with the MRT system, the Government is also building a separate elevated rail network to link satellite cities with Jakarta.

All of these public transit projects are part of Widodo’s sweeping infrastructure push to help boost the nation’s fortunes as well as get him re-elected next month.

The new MRT system gives hope to environmentalists that traffic-linked carbon emissions will be cut by about half.