Mon, 11 Jun 2001

Ticket scalpers operate openly at Gambir

By Ahmad Junaidi

JAKARTA (JP): Getting a train ticket at weekends is not easy, especially if you do not make a reservation. But even if it is announced that tickets are sold out, this does not mean that they are not available.

Scalpers are ready to "help" you, of course if you do not mind paying extra.

The scalpers could be found hanging around at the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI)'s reservation office on Jl. Juanda and the Gambir main railway station, both in Central Jakarta.

Their target is potential passengers of executive class trains, such as Argo Bromo, Argo Lawu, Argo Gede, Argo Muria, Sembrani, Dwipangga and Taksaka.

"Can I help you. Do you need a ticket?" one of the scalpers offered a passenger who seemed confused after finding out that all the executive train tickets to Surabaya for Saturday and Sunday had been sold out.

The digital board at the reservation office showed no tickets were available.

The scalper, Rochim, said he still had a ticket for Argo Bromo's Sunday morning trip.

He offered the ticket for Rp 230,000 (US$20.9), the official price being Rp 200,000.

Rochim claimed that he bought the ticket for Rp 150,000 from another passenger who canceled his trip earlier in the morning.

Besides buying tickets from passengers who cancel their trip, the scalpers also buy some tickets from the reservation office which are in high demand.

But the scalpers, who know each other, claimed they only buy five tickets at the most, as they did not want to take the risk if up until the last minute, the tickets could not be sold.

At Gambir railway station, scalpers seemed to have more "supplies".

Edi, one of them said he could provide four to six tickets of an executive train for an additional charge of between Rp 20,000 and Rp 30,000 a ticket.

A ticket for Sembrani train plying the Jakarta-Surabaya route, which costs Rp 140,000, was offered at Rp 160,000.

A ticket for the Argo Bromo evening train of the same route with an official price of Rp 170,000 was sold for Rp 200,000.

"These tickets are part of the tickets allocated to the company's officials," one of the scalper, Edi, said.

He said he bought the tickets with the help of railway station officers.

He said some 20 tickets for every train were allocated for the railway company officials. They were among the 50 tickets which should be sold at Gambir on the same day of departure.

No railway company officials could be reached for comment on Saturday.

A security guard said that for a few months, Gambir was free from scalpers, but admitted that they could be easily found now. He said that the railway guards could not stop them.

"Without the back up from police we do not dare to stop them," the guard said.

Another officer at the reservation office also said the railway management could do nothing to stop the scalpers from operating in the office compound.

"Even military officers could not stop them," an officer replied.

While no serious efforts to combat scalpers have been made, since early this month the railway management has cooperated with Bank Central Asia to provide reservation through its ATMs.