New BRT routes bode ill for many
The Jakarta administration’s plan to stop the operation of some buses that serve similar routes to the two new Transjakarta routes in February has left bus drivers, conductors and passengers in a quandary.
Edy Suparman, a driver for 17 years of the Mayasari Bhakti bus from Kampung Rambutan in East Jakarta to Grogol in West Jakarta, said his company had not informed him of his future at the company should the route be stopped.
“I don’t know where I would go because even if I wanted to work for Transjakarta, I am not qualified since I’m past 50 years of age and I never graduated high school,” Edy told The Jakarta Post while waiting for passengers at Slipi intersection in West Jakarta on Friday.
However, he said, he would have to accept any decision made by the company.
“If I am laid off maybe I can become a mikrolet [public minivan] driver,” Edy said.
The Jakarta Transportation Agency issued a letter to the Jakarta Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) instructing them to stop the operation of 123 Mayasari Bhakti buses and 66 PPD buses that served similar routes to the newly launched Transjakarta corridor 9 between Pinang Ranti in East Jakarta and Pluit in North Jakarta, and corridor 10 that runs from Cililitan in South Jakarta to Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta.
They said the move would encourage more people to use the bus rapid transit (BRT) system, but it also means that more than 500 drivers and bus conductors will be affected.
Organda head Soedirman gave guarantees that none of the drivers or conductors would be fired.
“The buses will either switch to operating as feeders for the Transjakarta routes or run other already established routes,” he said.
Deputy Jakarta Governor Prijanto said he expected the buses that would have their routes stopped would begin plying intercity routes so the traffic congestion in Jakarta could be minimized.
However, drivers and conductors have not been informed about the developments — despite the new regulation taking effect in two weeks — leaving them anxious and fearful about their future.
Andi Supandi, a Mayasari Bhakti bus conductor, said he was worried about his future especially since he was now the sole breadwinner in his family.
“My wife used to run a kiosk back in my hometown in Pandeglang, Banten, but she couldn’t compete with the plethora of minimarkets,” he said.
The launch of the new Transjakarta routes has started to hurt business, he added.
“We used to get Rp 900,000 [US$100] a day from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. but now our takings have dropped to Rp 700,000,” Andi said.
He added the decision to stop the routes would not only affected drivers and conductors, but also
“The Transjakarta buses operate only until 10 p.m, so the people who return home after that won’t get a ride home if we do not operate anymore,” he said.
Ary, a regular passenger on the Kampung Rambutan-Grogol bus criticized the administration’s decision to stop the operation of regular buses considering the number of Transjakarta buses serving the new routes were limited, forcing passengers to wait for long periods in
“The [regular] buses are more frequent and serve routes that are not reached by Transjakarta buses,”
Another passenger, Rani, gave a different view, saying she was grateful the busway route had been launched, adding that it was more comfortable and safe.
“I don’t use this regular bus that much,” she said.
Tifa, a journalist, said the decision to stop the operation of regular buses between Kampung Rambutan and Grogol would leave her stranded.
“I often go home after 10 p.m. when the Transjakarta buses no longer run. So if there are no more regular buses how do I get home?” she said.
Tifa added it would be better if the administration allowed the regular buses to keep plying the routes, but at different operational hours from Transjakarta buses.