Do-It-Yourself Jakarta Traffic Solutions: Walk, Bike, Share a Car or Even Fly  Hera Diani | October 23, 2009

Excruciating traffic jams and uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous public transportation have pushed some of us in Greater Jakarta to breaking point. But instead of losing hope, some enterprising people have found other modes of transportation.

Here are some of the alternatives, depending on how much time, energy and money you have.

Bike to Work (B2W)

This community is perhaps the most high-profile alternative transportation group in the country. Founded in 2004 by a small pool of workers who love to mountain bike as an alternative means of transport, B2W now has more than 5,000 members in several Indonesian cities who opt to pedal to work as often as possible.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng, State Minister of Research and Technology Koesmayanto Kadiman, and State Minister for the Environment Rahmat Witoelar are among the government officials who are members. They urge their staff to bike to work also.

B2W received the Clean Air Award from the Jakarta office of Swisscontact, a Zurich-based environmental organization, in 2006, and often participates in environment-related activities, including the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali. Polygon, one of Indonesia’s largest bicycle producers, has tapped them to market their folded bike, which is aimed at commuters.

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Nebeng is Indonesian for staying in someone else’s home or riding in their vehicle for free. A group of Jakarta office workers chose it for the carpooling group they set up in 2005.

“We saw how in a traffic jam, there are many cars with only one passenger. So we figured, why not do carpooling so we could reduce the traffic jams?” said Rudyanto, a self-employed IT engineer.

Joined by family and friends, he launched to connect people who drive with those looking for a ride. Car commuters can post their route, what time they leave home and their contact details so passengers can find matches.

Soon enough, people began visiting the Web site, which spiked after the government increased fuel prices in October 2005.

“At the moment, about 10,000 car owners are listed on our Web site, mostly from Jakarta and Greater Jakarta. Ten percent of them even live in other cities like Bandung, Semarang and Surabaya,” Rudyanto said, adding that about 20,000 people participate in nebeng.

Passengers usually pay Rp 5,000 to Rp 10,000 to the driver, depending on the distance — still cheaper than paying for fuel or public transport. Some car owners even refuse money to help erase the image of being an omprengan, or illegal public minivan.

“About 60 percent of the passengers are women, which shows that the scheme is safe,” Rudyanto said. “But I see that many people are still too proud to carpool. Most of the passengers are people who used to take public transport, not car owners. The awareness of environmental factors is also still low.”

Walk to Work

Farid Shigeta, 30, loves to walk. At first it was his only option to get to school in West Java, as his father was a low-ranking civil servant.

“But walking then became my habit as I grew older, and especially when I went to college in Japan, where people walk to places all the time,” said Farid, 30, who works in marketing at a furniture company.

Living in Bekasi, West Jakarta he had to endure traffic jams for two to three hours to reach his office in South Jakarta. Last June, however, Farid decided to start walking to work.

His route takes him from Bekasi to Kali Malang, M.T. Haryono, and UKI in East Jakarta, then to Mampang and ultimately Kemang in South Jakarta. It takes around four hours.

“I leave after dawn prayers, around 5 a.m. and arrive around 9 a.m. I do that every weekday now,” he said. “Do I feel tired? No, not really. I’m used to it. I’m pretty athletic.” Farid’s Walk to Work movement has drawn media attention as well as 1,019 fans on Facebook. However, not many have followed him onto the street.

“I don’t want people to follow in my footsteps. This is actually more of a moral movement, so that the government will create better public transportation and solve the problem of traffic jams,” he said.

However, he said he was doubtful that any solutions would come soon.

“We are lagging, like, 100 years behind other countries in installing good public transportation. Soon, I will pack up my bags and take my family abroad. I cannot bear the traffic any more,” Farid said.

Go by Chopper

If you don’t feel like dealing with traffic and have an extra Rp 4.5 million (about $450) for the fare, then taking a helicopter to work may be the answer, though it could hardly be said to be environmentally friendly alternative. Air Pacific provides shuttle and chartered helicopter services at several pickup points in Jakarta.

Marketing Manager Maria Goretti Lioba said the service was initially provided for executives of Lippo, with which Air Pacific is affiliated (as is the Jakarta Globe). It later opened its chopper doors to individuals and companies.

“There are three helicopters available that each can carry five passengers,” Maria said, adding that chartering an entire helicopter costs $1,705 an hour.

Based in Lippo Karawaci, Tangerang, the helicopters mostly shuttle people to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, which is only five minutes away by air, or downtown Jakarta, about a 10-minute flight. “But we often serve people going as far as East Kalimantan, or even Aceh and Sarawak in Malaysia,” Maria said.

Unsurprisingly, peak business is during the annual flooding season.

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