Monday, November 24, 2008

Transport in Jakarta

In many ways, Jakarta is like Metro Manila, only with more people, much fewer English speakers, and a Muslim instead of Christian majority. It's also hot, humid and rainy, with flash floods. They also have many malls.

But the traffic here is something else. Think pre-MRT times. They're trying to implement a busway system patterned after Bogota, Colombia, but it seems that the service is not enough for all the people. At least there is some order in the way they queue and pay because there are covered walkways and stations like this one (below). The red-and-yellow buses (bottom) are usually packed.

There are other options: bajaj (larger tricycles, in orange, above), mikrolets (like our FX, light blue, above) and plenty of cabs. At night, if you're alone, insist on a Blue Bird or Pusaka taxi. The regular taxi fleet is made up of new Toyotas. The driver is in uniform and his ID is displayed on the dashboard. The trip is always metered.

The same group controls Silver Bird (for hotels), Golden Bird (limos) and Big Bird (charter buses). We've tried all of them (except for Golden Bird), and the driving and service are great. Cab flagdown rate is IDR 6,000. For cabs ordered by phone, the minimum charge is IDR 25,000.

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