New Mengwi bus terminal inflicts more headaches
After June’s opening of the new inter-town and inter-province bus terminal in Mengwi in Badung regency, as a replacement for Denpasar’s old bus terminal at Ubung, passengers are expecting the Bali provincial administration to solve the currently chaotic bus departure and arrival arrangements by providing feeder buses to reach the capital city.
“When deciding to replace the Ubung terminal with one in Mengwi, the administration should have thought of providing public transportation, such as feeder buses, from Mengwi to Denpasar, because many of the passengers are based in Denpasar,” said Kristiawan, who frequently travels by inter-provincial bus from Denpasar to reach his home town of Malang in East Java.
Bali-chapter chairman of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda), Ketut Eddy Darma Putra, acknowledged that after the Mengwi terminal opened on June 22, unsettled administrative issues concerning route permits had motivated the bus companies to continue embarking from Denpasar’s so-called largest bus terminal, Ubung, instead of departing from Mengwi. Until now, the newly opened Mengwi terminal, which is about 20-kilometers (km) away from downtown Denpasar and 16-km north of Ubung, only serves as the arrival spot for inter-province buses.
“The bus companies that serve the route between Mataram in West Nusa Tenggara and Denpasar are still waiting for their new route permits to be issued by the Transportation Ministry,” said Eddy.
Around 15 public bus companies are currently members of Organda Bali, while there are a total of 50 public bus companies operating in Bali, serving inter-province destinations such as Surabaya, Malang, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Jakarta, Madura, Sumatra, Lampung, Palembang and West Nusa Tenggara.
Kristiawan said that when East Java’s Surabaya city decided to move its bus terminal from the suburb of Jayabaya to the Bungurasih terminal, which is in the neighboring town of Sidoarjo, passengers were not left stranded and unable to reach their final destinations because public buses, minivans and taxis were available, there was even a shuttle bus service to connect the bus terminal to the Juanda International Airport in Surabaya.
“Here in Bali, we lack options in public transportation, yet, we are full of uncertainty. A friend of mine recently arrived at 1.30 a.m. in Mengwi only to find the taxis were charging twice the normal price and operated without a meter,” said Kristiawan.
Additionally, most, if not all, the taxis and ojek (motorcycle taxis) in the Ubung and Mengwi terminals cooperate with scalpers. Thus, a fixed tariff is out of the question.
Head of Bali Transportation Agency, Dewa Putu Punia Asa, acknowledged that the agency was still in discussions about the tariffs for inter-town buses using the Mengwi terminal.
“We will decide the tariff as soon as possible,” said Punia, when asked whether tariff certainty would be achieved prior to the upcoming Idul Fitri exodus.
As if it is not chaotic enough, due to the prolonged uncertainty, a number of public minivans that should have been operating only in Denpasar are now operating cross-regency. The public minivans are welcomed in the Mengwi terminal to carry passengers to Ubung and other parts of Denpasar.
One of the drivers, Ketut Pasek, said that some of the minivan fleets had moved their operations to Mengwi to get more passengers. “But it turns out we have to wait some six hours before we can finally get our vehicles full of passengers heading to Ubung. It’s not true that the passengers are stranded”.