The Jakarta Post
Several major transportation companies have devised alternative services that complement their core business models in a bid to adjust to changing customer behavior and needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to decreasing ridership in recent months due to large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), city-owned public transportation company PT MRT Jakarta has announced a range of business initiatives that are expected to augment its revenue during the health emergency.
“We can no longer rely on our conventional mobility services. The ongoing pandemic has forced us to innovate beyond ridership, beyond physical mobility and beyond transportation networks,” MRT Jakarta president director William Sabandar said during an online discussion held by Binus University on Tuesday.
The alternative services offered by MRT Jakarta included delivery services and online training programs aimed at start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), William said.
Furthermore, he said, the company would use empty spaces at MRT stations for coworking spaces equipped with digital communication facilities.
“It’s all about building public confidence and trust,” he added.
The number of MRT Jakarta passengers dropped dramatically during the implementation of PSBB measures between April and June. The operator served an average of 90,000 to 100,000 passengers daily between January and mid-March, but the number dropped to 5,000 in April and 2,000 in May.
Since the city began easing restrictions on June 8, the number of passengers has slowly risen to 13,000 a day.
Similarly, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has scrambled to adapt to the changing business landscape by launching KirimAja – an app-based courier service – in collaboration with PT Aerojasa Cargo.
Garuda Indonesia president director Irfan Setiaputra said the new service was launched to stem the losses suffered by the airline in recent months due to mobility restrictions while still staying true to the company’s core mission to connect people across the archipelago.
“It’s crucial that we continue to explore new opportunities amid the present challenges,” he said during the same event.
“We expect [KirimAja] to facilitate people in sending packages to one another as a new form of intimacy during the pandemic.”
Furthermore, he said, the company planned to launch an interregional food delivery service dubbed PesanAja to bolster its presence during these unprecedented times.
The government has drafted a US$1 billion financial bailout for the flag carrier to help it prevent a debt default after the coronavirus crisis forced the airline to ground most of its planes.
Meanwhile, publicly listed taxi company PT Blue Bird has trained its employees to deliver items such as documents and household products as part of the brand-new BirdKirim initiative.
“Our drivers have been trained to deliver items to homes and offices while minimizing [physical interaction],” Blue Bird CEO Noni Purnomo said, adding that the alternative service reflected the company’s agility in navigating the crisis.
The transportation industry has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
Read also: Let’s have a safe ride
Read also: Let’s have a safe ride
The stay-at-home physical-distancing policy, coupled with the closure of tourist destinations and shopping centers, has seen earnings in the sector plummet.
To ensure the sector’s survival ahead of the so-called new normal, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the government had been formulating a plan to “readjust” public transportation fees, so that they would be proportionate to the recent dip in occupancy rate.
“The problem is that, if the occupancy continues to decrease, then the income of the entire sector will also continue to drop. It’s a fact that must be kept in mind,” Budi said during the discussion.
The ministry recently revoked a rule capping the passenger load factor of modes of public transportation and private vehicles at 50 percent of capacity, as the country enters a transition period of relaxed restrictions. The rule had been introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.