Thu, 30 Nov 2000

Train ticket discounts for holiday travelers

JAKARTA (JP): An official with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said on Wednesday that the government had requested the country's railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) to give discounts to passengers leaving Jakarta early ahead of this year's holiday period.

Director General for Land Transportation Susmono Susilo said a 10 percent discount would be given to passengers who leave Jakarta between 20 days and eight days prior to Idul Fitri and return between eight days and 20 days after the post-Ramadhan holiday.

"The discount will be given to passengers who travel economy class but is not valid for business and executive class trains as the number of passengers traveling on both kinds of trains are usually fixed," Susmono told The Jakarta Post.

Economy trains, which make up more than 60 percent of total passenger capacity, have no seat numbers and are usually packed with passengers leaving Jakarta for their hometowns during the holiday period.

For business and executive classes, the number of tickets always corresponds with the number of seats available.

Holiday travelers normally leave for their hometowns from seven days before Idul Fitri right up until the first day of Idul Fitri itself and return to the capital between one and seven days after the holiday.

The millions of people leaving Jakarta at the same time present great difficulties for officials in managing the transport infrastructure, including trains, during the peak days.

Susmono said the discount was aimed at reducing the rush of people traveling to their hometowns on peak days.

"This rush of people forces PT KAI to provide additional rail cars so that all of our passengers can enjoy the company's services. Technically, this disrupts the operation of the company as it takes some time to add the extra cars," he said, adding that the extra workload often leads to delayed services.

Backup trains

Susmono stressed that additional trains were a must, as many people who were already at the railway stations insisted on leaving the capital so that they could enjoy the holiday festivities in their hometowns.

"We are forced to operate backup trains, for example, to carry passengers who have yet to leave the railway stations on the evening before Idul Fitri as they might cause problems if they became stranded," he said.

The government has predicted that some 18.6 million travelers will be on the move nationwide over the holiday period.

The government said that it has prepared 238 rail cars nationally, and that these were expected to transport some 3.7 million passengers.

Last year in Jakarta alone, trains were able to transport some 90,000 passengers per day during the peak days of Idul Fitri.

This year, Idul Fitri will be celebrated on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, two days after Christmas. (asa)