The city’s five new double-decker tour buses only attracted a handful of passengers on the fleet’s first day of operation Monday.
Most of the passengers chose to sit on the top deck, where they could take in the scenery.
Syaiful, 52, a domestic tourist from Surabaya, said he chose to ride one of the buses after being approached while he was waiting for a taxi in front of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Central Jakarta and was offered a free ride to his destination.
“I’ve visited Jakarta several times, but getting around the city on this bus was interesting as it had a tour guide who offered facts about the city,” he said while enjoying the view from the top deck of the bus.
Another passenger, Irma, 30, said that she had seen the bus on her way to work on Monday morning and sought it out. “I just want to try the bus,” she said.
After traveling from in front of Gedung Kesenian Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia (HI) traffic circle, both in Central Jakarta, Irma said she would take her children on the weekend.
“I enjoyed the ride, mostly because the bus is new and clean. I just hope [the administration] can maintain it, unlike the Transjakarta [buses],” said Irma, who works near the HI traffic circle.
The Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency provided each of the five buses with a driver, a driver’s assistant, a tour guide and a tourism police officer, agency head Arie Budiman said.
“We’ve hired 12 drivers and 12 driver assistants to operate the buses. We are cooperating with the Jakarta Police in the deployment of tourism police officers and with the Historia Community and the Indonesia Tour Guide Association in the assignment of tour guides,” said Arie.
All the drivers are female because the agency expected them “to drive carefully and to be more hospitable”.
The buses travel at a maximum 20 kilometers per hour so passengers are able to enjoy the sights while the tour guide talks, Arie said.
The city tour buses route starts at the HI traffic circle to the National Museum-Jl. Ir. Juanda-Pecenongan-Gedung Kesenian Jakarta-the Cathedral Church-Istiqlal Mosque-the Presidential Palace-the National Monument (Monas) park-City Hall-Sarinah shopping mall before returning to the HI traffic circle.
“The route covers tourist attractions — Monas, the Istiqlal Mosque and the Cathedral and shopping centers, including Sarinah and Grand Indonesia — and major offices like City Hall,” he said.
Passengers can only board the bus at bus stops that have a “City Tour” sign, Arie said.
The city tour buses operate on Mondays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon until 7 p.m. “The buses have to start at noon on Sundays due to the regular car-free-day program,”
Currently, anyone can take the bus without the need for a ticket but in the next three to four months, tourist passes will be made available at hotels and travel agents, according to Arie. (nai)
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