Mon, 17 Jan 2000

Inbound travelers pack bus terminals, railway stations

JAKARTA (JP): Tens of thousands of people returning to the capital after celebrating Idul Fitri in their hometowns heavily packed the city's major intercity bus terminals and railway station on Saturday and Sunday.

With the massive influx of inbound travelers on the weekend, said by many officials at the terminals and railway stations to be the peak of the Idul Fitri return trip, the routine hustle and bustle of Jakarta is estimated to rebound again beginning on Monday.

Heavy traffic congestion is predicted to occur on many major streets in the capital on Monday as students begin to return to schools after the long holiday.

Crowds of passengers returning home were stranded at most of the terminals and railway stations shortly after their arrival in the small hours, waiting for city buses which would take them to their respective homes in the greater Jakarta area.

Most of the intercity buses and trains arrived in the capital from several towns and cities in Java and Sumatra at about 4 a.m., when there were few buses on the streets.

At the Pulogadung bus terminal on Sunday morning, for example, there was a sea of people lining the streets waiting for public buses until 6 a.m., since most of the buses were blocked by inter-city buses, which also attempted to enter the busy terminal.

The terminal alone recorded a total of 71,006 and 70,507 passengers on Thursday and Friday respectively.

Similar sights of large crowds were seen at the city's other main bus terminals of Kampung Rambutan in East Jakarta, Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta and Kalideres in West Jakarta in the early mornings and late evenings of Saturday and Sunday.

Thousands of other inbound Idul Fitri passengers were also seen arriving at railway stations, particularly at the Jatinegara, Gambir and Pasar Senen stations in Central Jakarta during the weekend.

Many of those arriving at the terminals and stations walked around dragging large suitcases, colorful packages and cardboard boxes, behind them.

It remains unknown why city authorities do not arrange special buses for the low-income travelers arriving back in the capital at night following the festive season. Only a few bus passengers can afford to take a taxi for the last leg of their journey home.


At midday on both days, most of the terminals and stations had returned to normal as only a few intercity buses arrived at that time.

Many travelers using trains for their trip back to Jakarta complained about the discomfort they experienced during the journey as most of the cars were packed with passengers.

"I paid for business class. But it was more like sitting in crowded economy class instead. It was full of people," one passenger said at Gambir station.

A long queue of would-be passengers leaving Jakarta for several destinations was also seen at the station on Sunday afternoon, waiting for the late arrival of their trains.

Spokesman for the state-owned PT Kereta Api Indonesia railway company Zainal Abidin acknowledged the bad service, saying most of the trains failed to arrive on schedule due to the crowded schedule of several trains that arrived at the same time at Cikampek station in West Java.

"The bottleneck is there, the point where trains from other parts of Java and Bandung meet," he said.

"The 54 kilometer track that links Cikampek and Haurgeulis station, also in West Java, is only a single track and trains passing the area have to queue up," he said.

Over two million people of Jakarta's 10 million population were expected to leave the capital for the Idul Fitri celebration.

With the end of the annual Idul Fitri holiday season, the Ministry of Transportation is expected to conclude its Idul Fitri transportation scheme on Monday by closing all temporary posts and revoking the officially recommended 25 percent hike imposed on bus fares during the holiday.

According the coordinator of the Idul Fitri transportation posts at the terminals, Rinto Junaidi, people should remember that all the posts would be closed starting from Sunday midnight and all personnel and communication devices placed at the posts would be returned to the transportation ministry.

"People should be reminded that starting this (Sunday) midnight those traveling by bus should no longer pay the 25 percent additional payment," he said. (ind/leo/bsr)