How We Survived The Jakarta Traffic Hell Gracefully

Since the beginning of time, human race seemed to agree to breed and multiply in Jakarta. The crowded capital of Indonesia is like the honeypot for Winnie the Pooh. Jakarta has a lot of things to be desired for millions of people who migrate from other places; but most of the time the thing is always the money. And that’s how the overpopulation in the city once called Batavia was started.

The overpopulation is the root of all city problems and it will give you another problems to grow, like the lack of education, poor urban planning, bad sanitation, crimes, and traffic hell.

Why hell? Here’s the numbers: more than 500 TransJakarta buses (Bus Rapid Transit) can only carry 450,000 passengers a day. And 700,000 passengers per day are carried by Commuter Line (City Train). The rest will commute in improper non AC buses with 80.6% city humidity, taxis, millions of motorcycles, and thousands of private cars. If you called the Friday night rain situation around central business district is jammed, we called it parked.

The city is dying. The people are dying. To save the people, the people need to save the city. Buying private cars and motorcycles did not help at all, they only save you from the hassle but not from the traffic jam. The only sane solution is use the public transportation. But with 12.5 million people live everyday in 285.8 square miles area, any decent public transportation plans will be beaten by the overpopulation issue.

So How?

So here’s how we survived that hell gracefully:

  1. Choose the humane public transportation
    Because some of them are inhumane. We tend to choose (sort in order):

    • Commuter Line and TransJakarta because they are fast, predictable, inexpensive, and cozy.
    • Public buses or mini buses for shorter routes because they are cheap, and fast in a shorter route but not comfortable.
    • BlueBird taxis if we want to go to the airport, vice versa, or if no other public transport available because they are reliable, and safe, but little bit pricey.
      Why not other brands? Based on our experiences, the BlueBird drivers quality is somehow the best. Yes, you can have bad experience with BlueBird, but most of the time it’s the safest choice.
      Why not Uber? If you have all the time in the world, we would say choose Uber. Unlike our experience with Uber Singapore we have bad experience with five stars Uber Jakarta driver who did not know how to use GPS. They are clueless. Waiting for Uber to come is like waiting for godot.
    • And ojek when the time is not our friend because they are fast, and know the ancient knowledge about the hidden road of Jakarta. But choose the trustworthy one. Watch out for the driver’s body odour, or the helmet smell. Also the important thing about this kind of transportation mode is knowing how easily ojek drivers drive their motorcycle recklessly. You’ve been warned. So better cover yourself some insurance. There’s an Uber for ojek called Gojek here, but we have no experience with them.

     

  2. Choose the departure time and point wisely
    Believe it or not, while Jakarta traffic jam is the constant, the pleasurable public transportation is the variable. If you’re doing it right it’s so comfy to the point you cannot distinguish the feeling between riding Kyoto MRT or Commuter Line. Choose outside the rush hours, anytime but 7am-10am or 4pm-7pm. Also choosing right point of departure is helping a lot. In the morning rush hours people tend to go to the Sudirman & Kuningan, if you happened to go to the opposite direction you’re about to reach the nirvana.
     
  3. Use the right cashless card for the public transportation payment
    Should you have the cashless card? Every civilised city around the world using this method for their public transportation payment system, when Jakarta has it, you should have it. It’s so convenient if you are the user of the TransJakarta and Commuter Line, and it works. If you happened to forgot your card it’s your agony because some TransJakarta shelters are ticketless. Stop whining, buy the card again, or use other transportation mode.
     
    Which card? If you have private car and prefer easy toll access over discount over selected parking area use any Mandiri cards, and use Flazz from BCA if you choose otherwise. I personally picked the card from Mandiri, for me it’s more useful than Flazz because I do like the easy toll access.
     
  4. There’s an app for that
    As iOS users we have some list of app that help us through this hell.

    • Waze
      This app sent from heaven for Jakartans. Check jammed route and avoid them.
    • Google Map
      Use this app for almost everything: find routes, places, and public transportation informations.
    • BlueBird Taxi
      Use this humble designed app to order your taxi. More reliable than Uber.
    • Darisini
      Use this app to check Commuter Line schedule, and TransJakarta route. And this is shameless plug.

     

  5. Location over everything
    If you live outside and have to be in the city at same time as million people do, the struggle is real. You can start the day early, and be home at late night to avoid the hell. Eventually you will find the rhythm. But if you asked us, our advice is change your work to remote mode or if you can’t, rent a house/room near your office. If buying is an option, go buy one. The 2 hours (or more) commute per day is way more expensive than renting. And remember how much time, health, and joy you will get when you don’t have to commute. You will thank us later.
     

From Medium post: “How We Survived The Jakarta Traffic Hell Gracefully