Homeward bound, hassle free: The web guides people home
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Travelers queue at the gate of Senen train station in Central Jakarta on Friday. The passengers used the KA Tegal Arum train carriages to head home to Tegal, Central Java. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
As the end of the fasting month approaches, approximately 5.5 million people in and around Jakarta — around half of the city’s residents — will leave the city and join the massive exodus of those heading to their hometowns.
Nowadays, with social media websites becoming more and more accessible through smartphones, travelers will have the Internet to guide them home through the horrendous traffic jams that can last for hours on major exodus routes.
Tangerang resident Adi, 27, said that he often monitored his friends’ messages on Twitter and their Facebook statuses to establish the best route possible from the capital to his hometown of Banjar in West Java.
“The upside of my friends’ messages is that they are more up to date and they often put up pictures of the traffic they’re going through,” he said on Tuesday. “That way, if they say ‘the traffic is bad here’, we can see how bad it really is and decide for ourselves whether we want to take that route or find another way.”
In a nation recently named as the fifth most active on the micro-blogging website Twitter, it is not surprising to find people like Adi who see social media websites as the most effective way of establishing traffic information for his Idul Fitri exodus route.
Even for Edo, 25, who will go to Surabaya by the relatively more straightforward northern coastline route (Pantura), Twitter has proven useful.
“Even though the Pantura route is more straightforward with less alternative routes than the southern route, I still monitor Twitter to find out if there’s a traffic jam up ahead,” he said.
Among the Twitter accounts Edo and Adi can monitor for information regarding the exodus routes, are @PantauMudik and @pulkam.
Urban activist Glenn Marsalim, the founder of @pulkam, said that the account was mostly active in and around the Idul Fitri exodus period.
“Traffic at @pulkam usually reaches its peak on the eve of Idul Fitri,” Glenn said.
The account mostly offered traffic information on major exodus routes, although Glenn said that information on culinary and tourism spots at various exodus destinations around the country would usually appear nearer Idul Fitri.
“We also invite our followers to post pictures of Idul Fitri celebrations in their hometowns so that we can re-post them to all our followers,” he said.
Yoka Mulyadi of @PantauMudik said that he received traffic information he posted on Twitter from travel communities and bus companies.
“As I often have to work during Idul Fitri, managing @PantauMudik serves as a way for me to feel all the craziness, stress and excitement on the exodus routes, without actually being there,” said Yoka, who is a traffic officer with the Jakarta Police.