The Transjakarta bus rapid transit system could lose about 40 percent of its passengers next year if it failed to improve its service, according to the Indonesian Consumers Protection Foundation (YLKI).
In its latest appraisal, the foundation noted that there were no improvements in the service provided by Transjakarta in 2011, a situation that could encourage those who had begun to rely on the system to use their private vehicles again.
“Based on our survey last year, [about 40 percent of Transjakarta passengers] wanted to leave their private vehicles at home because they had high hopes about Transjakarta. But as most of them are not loyal users, they will probably use their vehicles again if the services are not improved,” YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi told a press conference on Wednesday, evaluating Transjakarta’s performance in 2011.
This year alone, up until October, a total of 84.57 million passengers used Transjakarta. In 2010, almost 87 million people used Transjakarta, up from 82.37 million passengers recorded in 2009.
The YLKI received a number of complaints regarding the Transjakarta service, which it said needed a swift response by Transjakarta’s management body (BLU). “Most passengers complained about the lengthy wait times for buses at shelters. It tops a list of shortcomings the BLU needs to improve,” Tulus said.
Other much-needed improvements were to speed up the journey time from one shelter to another, improve passengers’ safety and comfort, and improve the information systems, he said. “The waiting time alone can reach five to 10 minutes, and sometimes even longer. This results in overcrowded shelters, which are uncomfortable for the passengers,” he said.
The coordinator of Suara Transjakarta, David Tjahjana, said passengers also saw an urgent need for improvements to the passenger information system, both those inside buses and at shelters.
“When hearing-impaired or blind passengers get on a bus, it would be very helpful for them if they could hear or see the information so they don’t always have to stand near the doors,” he said.
Meanwhile, information systems placed at shelters could help passengers arrange their travel times, he said.
Currently, there are only several shelters in Corridor I, connecting Blok M with Kota, that have a bus-tracking system that informs passengers when a bus will arrive.
Jakarta Transportation Council (DTKJ) chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan also urged the city administration to determine a minimum service standard of Transjakarta. “Such a standard could be a legal reference to generate quality and optimal service by Transjakarta,” he said.
BLU chief Muhammad Akbar begged to differ, claiming the operator had actually made several improvements this year. “For example, we have extended the operating hours of Transjakarta up until 11 p.m. to accommodate passengers’ needs,” he said.
In addition, BLU has also installed 300 fans at some of the shelters to make passengers more comfortable, he said.
The Transjakarta bus service emerged as the latest mode of Jakarta public transportation when it was launched in 2004, aiming to help alleviate the city’s traffic woes. The city now has 10 corridors, with a total of 123.35 kilometers in service length.