May 22, 2009

Be Part of the Solution, Say Busway Fans (Jakarta)

Nieke Agustani, a busway user who takes corridor 6 to get to her office in Kuningan, is known for being somewhat mean.

“If I see a child playing with a busway ticket, tearing it to bits and then throwing it away in the bus, I always tell them to pick it up and throw it in the bin, no matter how crowded the bus is,” she said.

“I also yell at people who try to cut in line. I’ve been told I can be kind of mean, but I’m doing this for the good of all because I think the busway is a good alternative for transportation in Jakarta and that we should all play a part in taking care of it.”

Mean? Hardly, as she only wants to see the busway service improve.

“That’s the reason I joined Suara Transjakarta [Voice of Transjakarta]. Me and the other members
want to say, ‘Look, we have a good alternative here for transportation,’” said Nieke, who is the group’s secretary, in a telephone interview Thursday.

The system, which began operating more than five years ago, has transitioned from being a pilot project for a mass transportation system into a staple of the notoriously gridlocked streets of Jakarta.

It has continued to receive criticism for its uncanny tardiness and Spartan seating. There have also been several fatal accidents involving pedestrians and motorcyclists encroaching into busway lanes and getting run over.

It is not in defense of these setbacks that Suara Transjakarta continues to laud the efforts made by the city administration to improve the busway, but in hopes that Jakarta will soon be able to boast a decent transportation system by promoting responsible commuter behavior.

“I see it so often, people cutting lines and motorcyclists driving into busway lanes. How can the system improve any time soon if users continue to behave irresponsibly?” Nieke said.

Some of Suara Transjakarta’s efforts include holding gatherings over coffee between members and busway operators to give and receive feedback. Members also volunteer at busway shelters to give out advice on the best routes and pamphlets on good behavior in using the busway.

“We’re actively trying to build a sustainable culture of public transportation. We do it by holding events on Car-Free Days and appearing on JakTV to talk with commuters and operators,” said David Chyn, another member of Suara Transjakarta.

However, It has not all been praises from Suara Transjakarta, David and Nieke admitted.

David criticized the operator for having buses wait at shelters for more passengers before leaving,
a strategy meant to maximize earnings.

Nieke added busway regulators and operators had not educated the public enough on responsible commuter behavior.

Jun Tambunan, a spokesman for PT Jakarta Megatrans, one of the bus suppliers, said the group had done a lot in helping operators improve the busway service.

“I hope they hold more coffee sessions with more users to help us improve even more,” he said.

Tips for a better ride

– Plan out and even chart out your routes, it helps a lot.
– Leave slightly after rush hour if you’re not in too much of a hurry; 5 to 7 p.m. on corridor 6 might be full, but you’ll always find an empty seat at around 8.
– Be courteous to busway officials and they’ll be courteous to you.
– Keep the buses clean and make sure others keep the buses clean too.

To view the original article, click here:
Be Part of the Solution, Say Busway Fans (Jakarta)

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