Commuters in Jakarta and surrounding areas expressed positive responses as electric train operator PT KAI Commuter Jabodetabek ( KCJ ) applied new lower fares.
The company on Sunday tested the new distance-based fares and multi-trip electronic ticketing scheme that will be effective as of Monday.
Commuter fares decrease from Rp 3,000 ( 30 US cents ) for the first five stations and Rp 1,000 for the next three stations to Rp 2,000 for the first five stations and Rp 500 for every three additional stations.
KCJ president director Tri Handoyo said that the operator received Rp 200 billion in subsidies from the central government for one year to compensate for the new fares.
A commuter of Pamulang, Banten, Ratna, said that she had to pay only Rp 2,000 to travel from Palmerah railway station in West Jakarta to Sudirman station in Central Jakarta, while she used to pay Rp 8,000 for the same distance.
'Of course I am glad to pay less than I used to. Workers like me can save some of our transportation budget from now on,' Ratna, who works in Jembatan Tiga, West Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post.
Sharing the sentiment, Elly, another commuter, said that she would likely take her family on a trip during her off-days more often when traveling around the city.
'I am happy [..] going out with the whole family won't take too much money for transportation,' she said.
A Depok commuter, Adi Purnama, also lauded the operator's move to apply distance-based fares.
'It is a fair fare. I wondered if the company would generate profit by lowering the fares like that, but I later found out that the government is giving the operator subsidies,' he said.
He acknowledged, however, that the number of commuters had increased on the day, making the trip less comfortable than usual.
'I heard that the operator would increase the number of carriages. I hope that will happen soon,' Adi said. 'The queue was also longer than usual and the Depok railway station had only three electronic gates ' it used to have five gates,' he added.
Palmerah railway station head Kabul Hartono said that the number of commuters had increased by up to 50 percent on Sunday, compared to previous Sundays.
'We are mentally prepared to anticipate a surge in the number of commuters tomorrow. There will be no additional personnel, but we are ready,' he told the Post, adding that the railway station saw an average of 6,500 commuters departing and arriving daily.
KCJ expects the number of passengers to increase by 10 percent with the cheaper fares.
KCJ currently operates 48 air conditioned trains a day, including nine economy-class trains, in Greater Jakarta, serving an average of 46 million economy-class commuters a year or around 120,000 people per day.
Besides cheaper fares, KCJ has launched multitrip e-tickets, called Commuter Electronic Ticketing ( Commet ). Commet cards are used in the same way as the single trip cards introduced in April.
Commuter line passengers only have to tap the cards at the gates to enter and exit the platforms.
Card holders can use them for any destination around Greater Jakarta until the credit runs out. The cards can be topped up with credit ranging from Rp 5,000 to Rp 1,000,000 in all stations in Greater Jakarta.
The company began selling cards priced at Rp 20,000 ' Rp 33,000 and Rp 13,000 of credit ' at all stations since Monday and 5,000 cards have already been sold. The cards are fully transferable and can be used by anyone. Credit is refundable.