The Jakarta Post
Passengers of the latest extension of the Transjakarta network, which serves the Pulogadung, East Jakarta, to Harapan Indah, Bekasi, route have complained of long wait times and traffic congestion.
The route is the first to extend outside the capital and is an extension of Corridor 2, which runs from Harmoni, Central Jakarta, to Pulogadung.
The 8.5-kilometer route, which started operating on May 19, has nine stops ' Pulogadung Terminal, Pulogadung Industrial Complex, Tipar Cakung, United Tractors, Cakung Traditional Market, Cakung Cilincing, Pulogebang, Ujung Menteng and Harapan Indah.
The route goes through the Pulogadung Industrial Complex, along the heavily-congested Jl. Raya Bekasi, before arriving at Harapan Indah housing complex. Without its own dedicated lane, the buses are stuck in traffic along with other vehicles.
One passenger, 39-year-old Theresia, who boarded the bus at Harapan Indah, seemed annoyed as she sat in her seat, looking at the traffic congestion ahead.
'The city administration should build a divider for the Transjakarta lane so the bus doesn't have to endure the traffic. It's so frustrating,' Theresia said, adding that before boarding the bus, she also had to wait for 20 to 45 minutes.
The route is thronged with trucks distributing raw materials and products to and from factories in the Pulogadung Industrial Complex, causing heavy traffic congestion in the area.
Theresia said that she was traveling from her home in Harapan Indah to a shopping mall in Senayan, South Jakarta.
'Since Transjakarta extended to Bekasi, it has been easier for me to travel to places in Jakarta. For only Rp 3,500 [30 US cents] I can travel from my house to Senayan,' Theresia said, adding that she would transit in Pulogadung Terminal and board another bus heading to Bunderan Senayan, South Jakarta.
Although Transjakarta made traveling more convenient, the traffic congestion and long waiting time was unbearable, Theresia said. 'But Transjakarta is still better than any other public transportation. At least the buses have air conditioning,' she added.
The alternative transportation modes on Jl. Raya Bekasi are mostly public minivans and commuters have to change minivan routes several times to reach Jakarta.
Another passenger, 45-year-old Handoko, who lives in Kranji, Bekasi, echoed Theresia, adding that he sometimes arrived to work late because of the long waiting times.
However, Handoko, a security guard at a building in Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta, said the route was convenient for him to get to work.
Busway driver's assistant Zainal Arif said police failed to manage the traffic congestion on Jl. Raya Bekasi. Zainal said Transjakarta only operated five buses on the route. 'So passengers sometimes have to wait for more than 30 minutes,' he said.
In response to the passengers' complaints, Transjakarta Management Authority head Pargaulan Butar-Butar said his unit was doing its best to cater to passengers.
'We only operate five buses on the route because there are not that many passengers. If the number of passengers increases, then we will increase the fleet,' Pargaulan told The Jakarta Post recently, adding that an exclusive Transjakarta lane was not built because the streets along the route were too narrow.
He said the route was chosen as the first intercity corridor as many Bekasi residents traveled to Jakarta along Jl. Raya Bekasi. 'The purpose is so Bekasi residents can travel into Jakarta using public transportation.'
The city administration is currently organizing a tender for a second corridor to travel outside the city ' from Blok M Terminal in South Jakarta to Ciledug, Tangerang.