Train commuters up by 30

A week after the implementation of electronic ticketing and reduced fares, the number of rail passengers in the Greater Jakarta area has risen by 30 percent, prompting the state-owned commuter line operator PT Kereta Commuter Jakarta (PT KCJ) to increase rolling stock this year.

 “Previously, about 300,000 passengers took our trains every day. After we applied the distance-based fares system, the number has increased to about 390,000 passengers a day,” the director of PT KCJ’s Commercial and Public Relations division, Makmur Syaheran, said in a press conference on Sunday.

PT KCJ started applying the electronic ticketing system with progressive fares on Monday in the hope that more white-collar workers and executives, who usually drove to their workplace, would switch to commuter trains .

In the new scheme, passengers have to pay Rp 2,000 (20 US cents) for the first five stations and Rp 500 for every three stations thereafter.

 “At first, we expected an increase in the number of passengers of only 10 percent. We really had no idea that we would attract so many more new passengers,” he said.

He said that most KCJ passengers came from the middle and upper income brackets..

“I think this is because the trains are relatively clean, comfortable and suit their schedules” he said.

Head of KCJ’s public relations Sukendar Mulya said the company planned to add more stations in response to the increased demand.

He admitted many passengers had complained about the lack of ticketing officers and train cars, which caused them long queues for tickets at stations.

“To deal with this, we will introduce 10 new train cars in Bogor, West Java, in early August to cater to the increasing passengers. We plan to add a total of 170 new cars by 2014,” said Sukendar.

However, he said that the company had no plan to run special cars for passengers from the middle and upper classes despite their increasing number. “We have no plans for that, right now we are concentrating on improving our service,” he said.

Institute of Transportation Studies director Darmaningtyas said that the number of commuter trains should be increased in anticipation of a rising number of passengers in the future.

“Greater Jakarta residents will no longer have the energy to deal with traffic snarls every day and will switch to commuter trains which are cheap and on time with their schedule,” he said.

He believed that running cheap, comfortable and air-conditioned commuter trains would reduce the number of private cars and motorcycles entering Jakarta from surrounding areas and simultaneously help ease the daily traffic congestion.

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