The Jakarta Post
The usual bustle Jakarta is known for returned on Monday morning as commuters packed train stations across the city and its peripheral areas to get to their workplaces for the first time as the capital city has eased large-scale restrictions (PSBB) as it enters the “transition” phase.
Instagram account @jktinfo posted a series of photos depicting long lines of commuters at a number of train stations, including Bogor Station, Bojong Gede Station and Citayam Station in West Java.
“Jakarta is back,” Instagram user @fahmisuhelmii commented on the post.
Meanwhile, Twitter user @ehpret tweeted a photo showing a crowd of commuters at Bekasi Station.
Pagi yang seru di stasiun Bekasi.— ever permadi (@ehpret) June 7, 2020
Para calon penumpang yang tidak terbiasa antre vs Petugas dengan jumlah terbatas 😂 pic.twitter.com/FQOqkPCIIE
“An exhilarating morning at Bekasi Station. Commuters who are not used to lining up versus a limited number of train officers,” they wrote in the caption.
To anticipate an influx of passengers and increased public mobility around the capital, state-owned train operator PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) has extended the commuter line’s operational hours to 4 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Despite the high-spirited return to a typical workday in Jakarta, some commuters have also taken to social media to express concerns over their safety as crowded stations and trains could prove to be fertile ground for coronavirus transmission, which could potentially lead to a new wave of infection.
“Corona is having a mukbang,” Instagram user @ahmadkurniadi62 posted in response to the slew of pictures of crowded stations.
The leaders of Jakarta’s satellite cities, namely Bogor city, Bogor regency, Depok and Bekasi had previously requested for the Transportation Ministry to suspend the operation of the commuter line during PSBB over findings that most confirmed patients in the regions were likely infected while traveling on commuter line trains. The request, however, was denied by the central government, which argued that public transportation must run normally but under several restrictions and health protocols.
KCI spokesperson Anne Purba said the company had recorded 150,000 commuters using its services on Monday morning, a significant increase from 80,000 recorded per day on average during the PSBB period.
In anticipation of such a significant increase in passengers, the company will resume its normal operations with 935 trips per day.
She went on to say that the company had complied with the Transportation Ministry’s regulation requiring the train operator to limit the number of passengers to only 35 to 40 percent of its capacity.
“We are now able to serve 74 passengers per train, whereas during the PSBB period we could only serve 60 passengers per train,” Anne said in a statement on Monday.
The company, she added, would still implement strict health protocols, such as conducting temperature checks and ensuring compliance with the physical distancing policy among passengers, amid the transition into the new normal.
“To ensure the successful implementation of physical distancing measures, the company will block several points in certain stations so that we can still control the number of commuters who have boarded a train and those who remain on the platform,” she said, adding that the company would issue new policies in the coming weeks in accordance with the government’s latest regulations related to COVID-19.
Anne called on commuters to stay disciplined and cooperate with field officers to help break the chain of coronavirus infection.
“Avoid boarding trains at peak hours to prevent long queues,” she said.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on his official Facebook page that he had received reports of increased traffic and queues at several bus stations during the administration’s field supervision on Monday morning.
“The outbreak in Jakarta is not over but today marks a period of transition in which several sectors are allowed to resume their activities,” he said.
“Alhamdulillah [thank God], based on our supervision, 100 percent of public transportation passengers wore face masks.”
Anies noted that traffic across the capital seemed heavier than usual due to the increased use of private vehicles. He also called for an evaluation of the queuing mechanism at a number of bus stations to minimize the risk of viral infection among passengers.
The governor decided on Thursday to extend the period of PSBB to the end of June as Jakarta entered the transition phase with gradual easing plans in place for several sectors.
During the transition period, the administration will allow houses of worship to resume activities but only at half capacity. The city administration will also allow the mobility of public and private vehicles starting Friday.
Other sectors allowed to open include offices, shops, restaurants, factories, retailers and city-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) but only at half capacity in the second week of June, while non-food businesses in markets and shopping malls will be allowed to open in the third week.
The Jakarta administration began imposing the PSBB on April 10, closing schools and places of worship, restricting people’s mobility and encouraging companies to apply a work from home policy, and has since extended the restrictions three times.