Public transportation sees uptick in passengers after fuel price-hike

Amidst the fuel price-hike on Sept. 3, bus and MRT operators in Jakarta have seen a minor uptick in passenger numbers.

Fikri Harish

Fikri Harish

The Jakarta Post


Extended service: An electric TransJakarta bus stops at Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta on Friday. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

October 3, 2022

JAKARTA – These days, 32-year-old Rahman who regularly commutes from his apartment near Tanah Kusir to Sudirman, takes a combination of TransJakarta feeder buses and the MRT trains to go work.

While he can save money by using just the TransJakarta buses, he doesn’t mind the extra expense as he likes the MRT.

“It’s still much cheaper even with the MRT. With the current Pertalite price, I’d have to spend more than twice the amount of money if I drive to work everyday and that doesn’t include the monthly parking fees,” he said.

Amidst the fuel price-hike on Sept. 3, bus and MRT operators in Jakarta have seen a minor uptick in passenger numbers.

With improved coverage and levels of service, commuters argue that public transportation could be the solution to the fuel price-hike and that private vehicles aren’t really necessary anymore.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post via phone, TransJakarta corporate secretary Anang Rizkani Noor confirmed there has been a 5 percent increase in passenger numbers with the current numbers hovering at around 800,000.

“There are several factors [for this increase]. Firstly, the TransJakarta fare is still at Rp 3,500 [since 2012]. Secondly, we’ve restarted the 24-hour bus service to help commuters who work at night. Lastly, we’ve also reopened several routes that were canceled during the pandemic,” said Anang.

Railway operator MRT Jakarta also reported a similar increase. The MRT corporate secretary Rendi Alhial confirmed there’s been a 5 percent increase in daily average passenger numbers from 60,382 in August to 63,433 in the week of September 3 to September 8.

These numbers are still lower than pre-pandemic highs; TransJakarta hit the 1 million daily passenger milestone in 2020 and the MRT reported around 85,000 daily passenger numbers in the same year.

Improved services

Compared to how it was when the MetroMini, Kopaja public minibuses and angkot (public minivan) ruled the streets, that 1 million milestone shows just how far Jakarta’s public transportation has come.

Rahman has witnessed firsthand how much public transportation in Jakarta has changed. As a high school student, he used to take a Metromini bus from Blok M in South Jakarta to Ciledug in Tangerang – an experience he has no intention of ever reliving.

“The drivers were crazy. Either you get one that drives like a madman or one that idles by the side of the road for 30 minutes waiting for passengers,” he said.

Compared to the current TransJakarta system where drivers have a fixed salary, Metromini and angkot drivers used to be paid per passenger.

The fuel price isn’t even a concern for Risa, a 31-year-old commuting regularly between Grogol and Kemanggisan on the Mikrotrans, the TransJakarta-operated public minivans – often erroneously referred to as Jaklingko.

Like the TransJakarta feeder bus that has evolved from the Metromini, Mikrotrans has its roots from Jakarta’s angkot.

“JakLingko is completely free, while taking an online ojek (motorcycle taxi) will cost around Rp 15,000 to Rp 30.000 for one ride, so the difference is enormous,” said Risa.

Like Rahman, Risa has also lived through the wild days of Jakarta public transportation where she had to deal with buskers, thugs and instances of pickpocketing and sexual harassments.

Public transportation now is a lot safer and more comfortable, Risa said, while still being just as cheap. Still, both Rahman and Risa concur that the wait time can still be improved.

Sometimes Rahman has to wait for more than 30 minutes for the TransJakarta feeder bus to arrive at the CSW integrated station in Blok M. For Risa, the wait time can range from just a few minutes to 40 minutes.

Electric future

To address the waiting time, TransJakarta plans to expand their current fleet of around 4,000 vehicles, evenly split between TransJakarta buses and Mikrotrans. “By 2030, we plan to have a total of 10,000 vehicles, all electric,” explained Anang.

In the short term, the Jakarta Transportation Agency plans to expand public transportation coverage.

By opening up new routes and modifying overlapping routes, the city administration hopes that it can cover 95 percent of Jakarta’s residents, up from the current 85 percent.

“If a resident lives within 500 meters of a public transportation station, that resident is considered covered by public transportation. From a study, we found that 85 percent of Jakarta residents fall under this criteria,” explains Anang.

While there are still parts of the city that’s hard to reach by public transportation, both Risa and Rahman agree that current public transportation can cover most of their needs.

Now, Rahman only takes his car out on the weekends. “As long as I’m living in Jakarta, I don’t think I’ll ever use my car as a daily driver anymore,” he concluded.

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