In just four or five years, using the commuter trains to get into, out of and across Jakarta has become immeasurably easier, not that there aren’t little things which can raise stress levels.
Old times ….. … and now…
Much, if not all, of the significant progress can be put down to the no-nonsense ‘reign’ of Ignasius Jonan who spent over five years as the chief executive of Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) before being appointed Transportation Minister in Jokowi’s government in October a year ago.
A maverick, Mr Jonan turned round Indonesia’s long mismanaged national rail company as chief executive. Whether sleeping on trains, spending weekends lecturing station managers or screaming at ungrateful customers, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the job.
The train service currently serves around 270 million passengers a year, 50% more than it did when Mr. Jonan took over Kereta Api six years ago. Freight loads have doubled to nearly 30 million tons per year, he says.
As Minister, his aggressive approach in increasing the current 5,000 kilometres of track, two-thirds in Java and one-third in Sumatra, by another 7,500 kilometres by 2020 across Indonesia’s five major islands – Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Papua – should pay great dividends in attracting investment in all sectors.
In Jakarta, platforms are being extended so that the current commuter trains will have two carriages added to to current eight, and with extra trains the aim is to double capacity to 1.2 million passengers a day by 2018.
Mr. Jonan is certain it will happen, with or without him at the helm. “The question is, if we achieve 1.2 million passengers a day in terms of capacity will the commuter trains still be crowded? The answer is most probably yes.”
So, the big picture is there, but what about the fine details, especially regarding access to the trains?
Better access to the stations.
– Liaise with the police to provide allocated space for ojeks (motorcycle taxis) at e.g. Tebet station.
– Better liaison with TransJakarta Busway management, e.g. at Manggarai and Sudirman stations which are both c.500m from the nearest bus stops.
– Widen, repair, provide lighting and maintain access footpaths to stations. e.g. Cikini and Gondangdia.
Better information provision
– The PT. KAI Commuter Jabodetabek website (and the national website) should also be in English.
– Line routes should be prominently displayed at each station
— The commuter line routes map can be found here, a ‘private’ website.
Provide escalators/travelators at overhead stations
– for the safe movement of passengers, especially the elderly, sick, physically handicapped, pregnant, and those laden with bulky or heavy luggage.
Better queueing flow
– rather than separate lines to each loket (counter), have one queue feeding into them.
To sum up, trains beat traffic jams any day, and along with increasing numbers of Indonesian residents and visitors could – with greater attention to detail – be an even more efficient and pleasurable experience.