Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Holiday travelers to reach 18.6m in 2000

JAKARTA (JP): The government announced on Tuesday that some 18.6 million people would leave Jakarta for their hometowns during the upcoming Christmas and Idul Fitri holidays this year.

The predicted number is 11 percent higher than last year, when some 16.7 million people left.

"Some 17.2 million passengers will take buses, trains or ferries. The remaining one million and 382,000 people will use ships and planes respectively," the Ministry of Transportation and Communication said in a statement given to the press on Tuesday.

The government said it would provide increased transportation capacity during the peak days, which used to fall seven days before and seven days after Idul Fitri.

"The government will provide 26,460 regular buses, supported by 1,882 reserves buses, which will be able to handle 11.86 million passengers.

"The government will also prepare 238 rail coaches, expected to move some 3.7 million passengers and 97 ferries, which will transport 2.3 million passengers," the press statement said.

The Muslim Idul Fitri holidays fall on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 this year, two days after Christmas.

The statement said that the government had prepared 584 ships and 117 airplanes, with carrying capacities of 1.6 million and 302,000 passengers, respectively.

The government said it would allow transportation owners to increase their carrying capacities during the holidays.

"The dispensation will be 10 percent for buses, 50 percent for trains, 30 percent for ferries and 25 percent for ships.

"However, they (operators) must consider the safety of the passengers," the statement said.

To avoid traffic jams, the government said public transportation heading to Jakarta would only be allowed to use roads along the northern coast of Java four days before and one day after the Idul Fitri holidays.

In the statement, the government also said that it might increase the bus fare during the holidays from 25 percent to 40 percent.

Meanwhile, an official of the country's sole train operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) suggested that city residents should depart for their hometowns early.

"The large number of passengers will cause inconvenience to the passengers and create problems including ticket scalping," spokesman for the company's Jakarta operation Zainal Abidin told The Jakarta Post.

Zainal predicted that the peak day would fall two days before Christmas, since both Muslims and Christians would spend both holidays in their hometowns.

"Family heads can send their families early to their hometowns, then the heads of the families can follow later. It is possible, since many schools are off during the fasting month of Ramadhan," he said.

Zainal said the company was anticipating ticket scalping, prevalent during holidays.

"For executive Argo train, we'll regulate that one person can only reserve four tickets," he said, adding that the reservation could be made one week before departure. (asa)