Wednesday, 22 August 2012

TransJakarta Buses

Wanting more excitement in life but within some safety for a change, I decided to ride the TransJakarta Busway across the city from Mampang in the south to Kota Tua in the north, changing only once at Dukuh Atas.
For 3500 rupiah you can literally ride all over the city as long as you don't get off the system and you are prepared to shaken, vibrated and squeezed, pushed and pulled, sneezed on, stepped on and basically want to feel hot and sweaty in the company of a bus load of strangers.
The network of bus lanes is huge and is continuing to grow. You can go from Kalideres in the west to somewhere called Pulogandung in the east or from Ancol in the north to Kampung Rambutan in the south.

The system is easy to use and almost friendly. All the shelters are signed with the direction of the bus and if you are lucky there are announcements made before each stop so you know where you are. There are no maps of the network on the buses that I saw but you never know there might be.
As a rule the busway is over subscribed and you normally have to fight your way on and off the buses and then when you need to change bus routes you have to queue in shelters waiting for the buses to come. There are a lot of buses so it seems you don't have to wait that long. At Dukuh Atas you have to change to get the bus for the Blok M Kota route. This passes Harmoni Bus hub which is just not nice when full of people and with no ac and lots of noise never a favourite spot of mine. 
However as luck would have it, you don't have to change as the bus goes straight into Kota which is good.

For some reason getting out of the busway system at Kota involves an underpass and a circular walk down before going back up. As normal the signage is limited and getting back to Busway shelter at Kota involved climbing through a broken fence and then back through the underpass again. Bizarre, there must be another way I am not aware of. 

Still I wont complain too much for the price.  Due to it being the holiday the bus to Kota was completely empty so it allowed me to take in the interior of the bus. The ripped seats, dirty air vents, damaged doors and dirty windows and signs. The buses are so over used they are wearing out fast although I am sure a good wash at the end of the day would help preserve them a little longer. 

As for the drivers, the ones I had stopped for old ladies to cross the bus lane, jammed on brakes due to motorbikes pulling out in front of them and basically seemed to drive carefully across the city. I can  appreciate a little more when reading about the accidents on the bus way how hard it is for the driver to control these things. Trains kills people every day as people cross the tracks with out looking and the bus lanes are no different. More bridges across the 8 lane roads, traffic lights and crossings with enforced rules would help things along. But I guess it will never be the fault of anyone but the bus driver when accidents occur as they should know that motorbikes, people, cars, kids will  consider themselves more important and have right of way in the dedicated busway lanes which are for buses only.
As a motorbike rider who crosses the city everyday I will not ride in bus lanes as bikers treat them as race tracks, the police stop lots of people and they even more dangerous than the rest of the road. I guess they will never be entirely safe until there is 2 meter high fence between it and the rest of the road, I live in hope.

For more information about the busway go here


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