Indonesian public transportation is not the best in the world. The traffic jam in Jakarta is so infamous as one of the most condensed traffic jam in the world. Not proud of that. There has been a lot of complexities add up but mostly its because the government unable to regulate the cars and motorcycles, so people keep on buying them (by credit which means they get the vehicle ahead and pay per month until the fee is completely payed). The number of cars and in Jakarta alone adds at least about 6000 units per month in 2015 from the police records (since the car owners have to report the car and make papers so they get this number). But let’s save that for another article.
Of course the solution would be: use more public transportation. But its another different matter. The public transportation in Jakarta is striving to be better. The train, bus, and more to come (MRT and LRT).
The train would be my highlight tonight. I am using commuter line to go from where I live, Depok to Jakarta. It saves time, it takes about 90 minutes to travel from my house to Sarinah, for example, given if I get into the train immediately after I arrived in the station and if nothing is happened to the train itself so no electrical failure, technical failure, flood, or any other accidents. So far, its my favorite mode of transportation to go to Jakarta. As comparison, I would need at least 3 hours to go to Jakarta by bus because of the traffic and the super slow mobility of the bus (they don’t have schedule).
Anyway back to the commuter train that serve route from Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi to Jakarta or so called as Jadebotabek area. Jakarta, the capital city is supported by the satellite cities around it. Indeed Jakarta is the main city where things going on but the accommodation is very expensive so a lot of people commute from their houses in the satellite cities (jadebotabek) to Jakarta thus the name, commuter line.
Back in 2005 or 2006, since I am an avid fan of public transportation. Whenever I had anything to do in Jakarta, I would be using the train. It was called economy train. This picture below show exactly how it was. The people were climbing to the roof of the train. It was hot, since the door couldn’t be closed (since some people makes it so they couldn’t be closed), and the national company that managing the train always in deficit since a lot of people didn’t pay the ticket. There were valid reason at that time though, the ticket was sold only by 1-2 people and we had to buy it right before we wanted to board the train. Which made it impossible to buy the ticket during rush hour. There was no card system that enable people to pass in a large number. The gate was never being guarded so people could easily came to the station without paying. The rest of the chaos was due to our nature that are so undisciplined. What’s worse, inside the train there were people who were selling vegetables and sometime animals to the market that’s located near some of the train station. There is no restriction on what you can bring in the train. I was once saw someone brought an unfolded bicycle in the train. There were people who sell stuff and beggars in the train which makes it so uncomfortable. There were pickpockets too. My father had taken a lot of these people since they could actually push people and caused death. Not only the train that was nightmare, the stations too. When I came from Jakarta to Depok or the otherway round I had to memorize how many station I had stopped since its impossible to see the station name platforms during rush hour and there was no announcement in what station we were and what station was next.
Few years ago, the train has been added with air conditioner so its not that hot anymore. The price was very expensive though. But working people were fine with it. Then there was another improvement. The ticketing system has changed. They use card so people could buy in advance for a month, per say.
Now, after the minister of transportation agency (pardon me I don’t know what is dinas perhubungan in English lol) has been changed, he transformed all of those train nightmares into awesomeness.
A year ago, after I came back from the states. I was shocked and in awe. There was nobody on top of the train (yayyy). I know it sounds so ridiculous, but its true. I never expect that people could be disciplined like that. The way the ministry (or the company) makes people stop climbing the trains was by stopping completely until everyone comes down from the train roof. I saw this once too. It was hilarious and mesmerizing at the same time for me. The number or guards was increased so that people are pushed to buy the tickets since the guards will checked the passengers before they board the train and inside the train during the trip. Well, the passengers should buy the ticket, right? lol. And it keeps getting better, the train ticketing system is similar to Japan (kind of). So the passengers buy the electronic ticket. If they only buy for one trip then they have to give like a 10.000 rupiah or around a quarter usd worth of deposit (while the ticket was only like… 20cents) and if they are frequent passengers i.e they use train everyday to commute, they could buy the an e-money card issued by some banks such as BNI or BCA (big banks in Indonesia), or buy other type of cards that enable recharging (wth sorry my brain is laggy. its late here ). This ticketing system turns the whole train game.
It gets easier to pay and the problem in which the paper ticket has (1-2 ticket attendees at one time) is solved. Passengers can come into the station in huge number and they still ticketed so they payed for their ride (tapping into the machine was fun, its like MRT in Singapore or like trains in Japan. tap-tap-tap lol). The card could be recharged too, so we can pre-paid some amounts of money at the convenience store or to the bank and we are ready to go. We don’t have to wait for the ticket attendees to give our ticket (for one trip people still able to do it though. Human are the best, though recently in big stations they are replaced by machines). Its another story to see people getting used to using the ticketing machine. It seriously is. But I am excited to see more improvement of the public transportation. It is now always clean, mostly air-conditioned (sometime its broken so we had to open the window lol). No more beggars. People’s baggage are limited to certain dimension. No more people bringing seat so they can comfortably sit on the train and annoy other people (yep that did happened, Indonesian are amazingly creative but unfortunately sometime not in a good way).
And they now have train cars for women only. Which located in the very front of very back of the train.
Its not perfect, still. Accidents does happen. Like last night when the train ran out of its course in Manggarai station, the transfer station between Jakarta-Bogor and Jakarta-Duri/tanah abang which are the busiest route. People flooded the station to get home, because for those who lived more than 20 km from Jakarta (like me) its a pain in the ass to get home by bus at that rush hour. It could take me around 3 hours to go home by bus. I got lucky, I took motor taxi (ojek) and he recommended not to go to Manggarai but to the next station instead. I took his advice and voila, I got into the-already-packed-train but still I’m in. Then I got home not as late as I thought it would.